Celtics vs Warriors NBA Finals Game 1 Picks and Predictions: Warriors Come Out to Play

Golden State has homecourt and rest edges over Boston for Game 1 of the NBA Finals. And while the road dogs can make this competitive, their inexperience may help yield an early hole — our Celtics vs. Warriors betting picks explain why.

Jason Logan: Senior Betting Analyst at Covers
Jason Logan • Senior Betting Analyst
Jun 2, 2022 • 17:56 ET • 4 min read

The 2022 NBA Finals tip-off in San Francisco where the Golden State Warriors host the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the championship series Thursday.

Golden State has been waiting around for awhile to see which counterpart would come out of the East after wrapping up the Western Conference finals on May 26. Boston once again needed seven games to advance and will have three full days off to travel, rest and prep before Game 1, getting 3.5 points on the road.

Check out our free NBA picks and predictions for Celtics at Warriors on June 2.

Celtics vs Warriors Game 1 odds

This odds widget represents the best odds available for each betting market from regulated sportsbooks.

Bookies opened Golden State as a 3.5-point home favorite for Game 1 with that spread briefly jumping to -4 before coming back to -3.5 (-112) at some shops. The total hit the board as high as 211.5 points, dropped to 210.5 before coming back to the original number.

Use the live odds widget above to track any future line movements right until tip-off and be sure to check out the full NBA odds before betting to ensure you get the best number.

Celtics vs Warriors Game 1 predictions

Predictions made on 5/31/2022 at 2:00 p.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.

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Celtics vs Warriors Game 1 info

Location: Chase Center, San Francisco, CA
Date: Thursday, June 2, 2022
Tip-off: 9:00 p.m. ET

Celtics vs Warriors NBA Finals odds

Celtics: +130
Warriors: -150

Celtics vs Warriors Game 1 betting preview

Key injuries

Celtics: No injuries to report.
Warriors: Gary Payton II PG (Probable), Otto Porter Jr. F (Questionable), Andre Iguodala SF (Questionable), James Wiseman C (Out).
Find our latest NBA injury reports.

Betting trend to know

The Warriors are 24-8-1 ATS in their last 33 home games vs. a team with a winning road record. Find more NBA betting trends for Celtics vs. Warriors.

Celtics vs Warriors Game 1 picks and predictions

Our side and total predictions are based upon our analysis of the line and total in this game. Our best bet is our favorite pick across all markets.

Spread analysis

The Celtics have shown great heart and an ability to win on the road during the playoffs, but I’m a bit confused when it comes to the spread for Game 1. Before even diving into the nitty-gritty between these two clubs, there are obvious edges in this opener for the Warriors right on the surface.

Golden State has the rest advantage after wrapping up the West finals in five games and overall, is a healthier team in terms of its main rotation. The Dubs have the experience edge entering the series with a slew of veteran players who won’t be blinded by the bright lights of the Finals. And, at least for the first two games, the Warriors have home-court advantage, with the Celtics having to cross the country and face a Chase Center crowd that’s rivaled the old Oracle Arena in terms of volatility this postseason.

All of those angles and edges added up only come out to 3.5 points? 

If the Celtics are going to flip home court in the Finals, Game 1 is the spot. After back-to-back grueling seven-game series that took a toll on the C’s standouts, Thursday is probably the healthiest we’ve seen this Boston team since before battling the Bucks. 

So, while I feel this Game 1 spread should be more in the Warriors -5.5 range, I could see oddsmakers giving the Celtics a fighting chance considering how well they’ve played away from home (7-2 SU and 8-1 ATS) and the fact that linchpin players like Marcus Smart and Robert Williams have had time to recover a bit from nagging injuries.

Scratching beyond those surface factors, however, Golden State has more ways to win or at least can make easier adjustments if its bread-and-butter methods aren’t working.

Boston needs young stars Jayson Tatum and Jalen Brown to rise to the challenge every night against a defense that’s nearly as stingy as their own. Let’s not forget, the focus of Steve Kerr’s 2021-2022 campaign is defense, with the Dubs ranked out just behind the Celtics in defensive rating during the regular season. 

Kerr could have three vital defensive pieces back for the finals, with Gary Payton Jr., Otto Porter, and Andre Iguodala on track to return, putting them alongside stalwart starters Draymond Green, Kevin Looney and Andrew Wiggins. That’s plenty of fresh-legged defenders to throw at the Celtics’ stars.

The Warriors have an edge in depth over Boston, something Miami owned in the East finals as well before Tyler Herro got hurt and ailments to Kyle Lowry made him useless. Golden State still leans on Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson to lead the charge but have capable support players like Wiggins and Jordan Poole, who can take over a game if the vets have a bad night.

Boston’s last two opponents were dependent on one main source for buckets and didn’t have a consistent second scorer to share the load. Giannis Antetokounmpo was missing the injured Khris Middleton, and Jimmy Butler had no choice but to score 40 a night to keep the Heat viable. The Warriors, however, have options — not just in who scores but how they score.

The Bucks and Heat posted assist percentages of just 51.4% and 54.5% against Boston, with Antetokounmpo and Butler getting the ball and everyone else watching. Golden State makes you work your ass off on defense with plenty of ball movement and action away from the basketball, leaning on screens and cuts to drum up a playoff-best 66.9% assist ratio. The points can come from anywhere.

This is the Finals matchup the league wanted, fans wanted, and bettors wanted. Hopefully it lives up to the hype and doesn’t follow the path of blowout games we’ve seen this postseason. Boston has its best shot of stealing a road win in Game 1, but I feel like we’re getting a discount on the Dubs at -3.5.

Prediction: Warriors -3.5 (-110 at PointsBet)

Over/Under analysis

Perhaps the biggest factor in this series comes down to which team can get rid of its chronic case of “butter fingers” first. 

The Celtics and Warriors have been plagued with turnover troubles throughout the playoffs, with Boston coughing the ball up 15.3 times per game in the East finals, which went for 17.1 points against off turnovers. Golden State wasn’t as bad against the Mavericks in the West finals but barfed up the ball 18.2 times per contest versus Memphis in the conference semis, costing it 20.3 points an outing.

Those turnovers can get translated into easy points on the other end, but also hurt the overall offensive flow of the team. If both sides trade turnover woes in Game 1, they’ll cancel each other out on the scoreboard but give the advantage to Under bettors in terms of disrupting scoring rhythms for two teams that can get hot. 

Golden State won’t have as easy a time scoring buckets against Boston as it did against Dallas, which protected the perimeter but pretty much gave the Warriors clean air inside with no true rim protector. Williams serves as the interior gatekeeper for the C’s, using his length and athleticism to change shots and secure defensive rebounds. Golden State, which owned an effective field goal rate of 58.9% last series, also owned the offensive boards and added 14.4 second-chance points per outing against Dallas.

I wouldn’t surprise me to see Golden State coming out stale to start Game 1. While the Warriors have the rest advantage, that can sometimes leave a team rusty or passive — especially when facing a foe fresh from the intensity of a do-or-die game. 

As we’ve seen from Golden State so far, this offense does need a little time to get going (54.4 1H points vs 60.1 2H points). As for the Celtics, NBA Finals jitters and a feeling out process of this Dubs defense could also keep points low in the opening 12-24 minutes. That sets the table for Under backers, who may get a tad uncomfortable in the second half when things pick up.

Prediction: Under 211.5 (-110 at PointsBet)


Best bet

While obviously things seem stacked against Boston in terms of rest, experience, and venue, this Celtics team is perfectly capable of stealing a Game 1 win on the road. I just don’t think it will.

Golden State is a perfect 9-0 SU inside the Chase Center this postseason and owns a 40-10 overall record on the year in front of the Bay Area faithful. Sure, one of those home losses came at the hands of the Celtics back in March, but Curry was injured in the second quarter and Wiggins was out as well.

Maybe it’s just my memory or individual betting patterns, but I often find myself wagering on the Warriors’ moneyline instead of laying the points when the spread throws me a curveball. And, as mentioned, this Game 1 line seems about two points lower than expected.

As it stands, the Dubs aren’t a great point-spread pick as a short favorite, going just 7-5-1 ATS when giving -3.5 or less this year. They are, however, 9-4 SU in those tight contests. We saw this bubble up as 2.5-point road chalk in Game 1 versus Memphis: a 117-116 win in which I passed on the point spread and stuck to Golden State’s moneyline.

We’ll do the same Thursday, shopping around for the lowest outright odds on the home side and hoping for an exciting start to the NBA Finals.

Pick: Warriors moneyline (-160 at PointsBet)

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