NBA Finals Game 3 Odds, Injuries & Last Minute News for Celtics vs Mavs

A Kristaps Porzingis injury is again grabbing headlines and driving the narrative ahead of Game 3 between the Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks. See how this, and more, affects the lines of this NBA Finals clash with mere hours left before tip.

Douglas Farmer - Betting Analyst at Covers
Douglas Farmer • Betting Analyst
Jun 12, 2024 • 14:48 ET • 4 min read
Kristaps Porzingis Boston Celtics NBA
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Before it becomes an active worry, let’s remind the world that teams trailing 3-0 in the NBA playoffs are 0-156 in those series after two such moments in the Conference Finals. The Dallas Mavericks are on the precipice of that and if they do not find an immediate rally in Game 3, the Boston Celtics will enjoy a commanding, and historically insurmountable, series lead.

With the Mavs favored, Celtics vs. Mavericks predictions have more intrigue, and Covers' free NBA picks give plenty of reasons to back Dallas.

Porzingis probable or hobbled?

Kristaps Porzingis’ health again drives most of the conversation heading into an NBA Finals game. This is the opposite leg of the soleus strain that cost Porzingis 11 games through the first three rounds of the playoffs, but this “torn medial retinaculum allowing dislocation of the posterior tibialis tendon” creates its own set of worries.

This injury — in short, this weakens Porzingis’s left ankle — is rare enough to throw doubt onto any return prognosis. The Boston Celtics say he is currently day-to-day and could play in Game 3. But really, no one seems to know.

Do not overreact to the specter of Porzingis’ absence. Entering the Finals, the Celtics’ offensive and defensive ratings were both improved this postseason compared to 2023’s playoffs despite Porzingis missing 11 of 14 games. Some of that is tied to the quality of Eastern Conference opponents — all three eventually missing their best players — but some of it is also tied to this being the best roster of this Boston era.

Bettors remain against Boston

The Dallas Mavericks opened as 1.5-point favorites in their first home game of these NBA Finals after falling behind 2-0 to start the series. Before the Porzingis concern found any context, the number had risen to -2, and as that worry reached the world on Tuesday, it jumped to -3.

The total opened at 212 and climbed to 212.5 on Monday before a jump to 214.5 on Wednesday as the world gained confidence that Porzingis would not play. His scoring garners headlines, but his interior defense has been crucial against Daniel Gafford and Dereck Lively II.

This is the third straight game that bettors have stood up behind Dallas. In this instance, while only 48% of bets at BetMGM were on the Mavs on Wednesday morning, 60% of the betting handle came in with those bets. Such a disparity suggests the sharper money is betting on Dallas.

Similarly, 64% of bets and 68% of the handle are on the Over.

Is Porzingis worth 1.5 points?

A tried-and-true betting axiom is to "buy on bad news, sell on good." The intention is to simply doubt the public’s overreaction. Porzingis makes Boston better, do not doubt that. His defense is valuable.

But is he worth 1.5 points?

The world may be overreacting to his probable absence, and in that case, there is distinct value to be had in shopping around to find the Celtics at +3 (-105 at Caesars) or even on the moneyline (+130 at Caesars).

NBA Finals Series Odds

Before Game 1, the Celtics were -225 favorites to win this series. That Game 1 rout made them -450 favorites to win the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Taking a 2-0 lead raised that to -800 at BetMGM.

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