NBA Finals Game 1 Odds, Injuries & Last Minute News for Mavs vs. Celtics

The long wait for the 2024 NBA Finals is finally over, and Douglas Farmer has you covered on what you need to know ahead of the opening game tonight.

Douglas Farmer - Betting Analyst at Covers
Douglas Farmer • Betting Analyst
Jun 6, 2024 • 15:48 ET • 4 min read
Jayson Tatum Luka Doncic NBA
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

After a long week of just staring at the NBA Finals odds, action is set to kick off tonight. 

The Boston Celtics have waited three days longer than the Dallas Mavericks have, but a week should be enough for any lingering Luka Doncic maladies to have fully healed.

I've got you covered with a bounty of Mavericks vs Celtics predictions, but here are some last-minute thoughts before you make any NBA picks just before the opening tip.

Welcome back Kristaps

Kristaps Porzingis was supposed to unlock a multiplicity of lineups and approaches for the Boston Celtics to prevent another postseason flameout.

Last year, the Boston defense fell short and found itself behind 3-0 to the Miami Heat, and then the offense faceplanted in Game 7, hitting just 39% of its field goals in the humbling 103-84 loss.

Adding Porzingis would theoretically help both aspects and in the regular season, it did. The Celtics’ offensive rating jumped 4.9 points compared to last season, while the defensive rating held steady both in number and in ranking No. 2.

Both Boston’s offensive and defensive ratings have improved in this postseason compared to 2023’s playoffs — despite Porzingis playing only three games — but his impact now should still not be diminished. The Celtics have, simply to state a fact, played three teams without their best players. Their ratings were always going to improve.

Getting Porzingis back from a soleus strain, even if he is somewhat limited by the painful calf knot, will once again allow Boston to vary its lineups however it chooses, deep in size, length, and shooting. His return buoys the Celtics’ hopes of an 18th banner.

Bettors Against Boston

This line has barely moved over a week, opening with Boston favored by six and toggling between that and -6.5 through Tuesday, at which point -6.5 became the line across the board. Yet, bettors are piling in against the Celtics.

Per BetMGM on Thursday morning, 71% of bets and 67% of money have landed on the Mavericks +6.5. Just as notable, more than three quarters of bets and money have backed the Dallas Mavericks to win Game 1 outright.

Similarly, the Covers Consensus sees 60% of bets on Dallas +6.5. Even when looking at the series, bettors have insisted on wagering on the Mavs as 84% of bets and 69% of money is on Dallas to win the NBA Finals at +180.

Destiny for Dallas?

The Mavericks were +2,500 to win the NBA Finals when the season began. If they find four more wins this postseason, they would become the biggest dogs to win the NBA title since the Warriors did so in 2015 as a preseason +2,800.

Odds at a repeat?

FanDuel has already posted its odds for the 2025 NBA title, a bold move before this season even ends — or free agency plays out. The Celtics lead the way at +350, while the Mavericks are listed at +950.

Two Western Conference teams have shorter odds than the Mavs, the Denver Nuggets at +850 and the Minnesota Timberwolves at +900.

It should be noted that a team has not made two consecutive Finals appearances since the Warriors went to five straight, ending in 2019. Set aside Steph Curry- and LeBron James-led teams, and no team has reached the final game of the season in two straight years since the San Antonio Spurs in 2013 and 2014.

Yes, be annoyed by the Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers had a week to make headlines between NBA games. That interim created far too much idle time for Celtics and Mavs discourse. The distraction of the Lakers’ coaching search would have been welcomed.

Instead, Los Angeles waited until this morning to leak its interest in Connecticut head coach Dan Hurley.

When tonight’s ESPN broadcast veers into that conversation for a moment instead of focusing on the game at hand, yes, you should be annoyed with the Lakers and their decision-makers.

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