Mavs vs Celtics Game 5: First Quarter Picks and Predictions

The Boston Celtics have dropped the last three opening quarters against Dallas, but our first-quarter NBA picks expect them to shut down Doncic & Co. in the first 12 minutes of Game 5.

Douglas Farmer - Betting Analyst at Covers
Douglas Farmer • Betting Analyst
Jun 17, 2024 • 15:23 ET • 4 min read
Luka Doncic Dallas Mavericks NBA
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

This may be the way the Finals end, not with a bang, but a whimper. The Dallas Mavericks landed their punch in Game 4, but that blowout only strengthens belief in the Boston Celtics tonight.

Any Mavs vs. Celtics predictions should begin by expecting Boston to redeem itself early from its 34-21 first-quarter loss on Friday. Begin with that thought amid my free NBA picks before tip on June 17.

Monday's best bets for NBA Finals Game 5 first quarter

Celtics -2.5 (-104 at BetRivers)

The Boston Celtics started this series emphatically, winning the first quarter of Game 1, 37-20. They've started in disappointing fashion since then, losing the last three first quarters, lowlighted by Friday’s 34-21 blowout. The previous two first-quarter defeats had been by only a bucket, nothing of concern.

That was also Boston’s third loss of this postseason, and in the previous two, it was down after the first 12. In both instances, the Celtics responded in the next game with a 1Q win. Doing so tonight would not assure this victory against the opening frame spread, but it would be rather likely.

Simply enough, Boston has to know tonight is its chance to snuff out any Dallas Mavericks confidence. If this series goes back to Texas, the Mavs may begin to believe. The Celtics know as much, and playing to that emphasis in the first quarter will be crucial to finishing this series.

NBA Finals first quarter spread: Celtics -2.5 (-104 at BetRivers)

Under 54 (-110 at Caesars)

Trusting the Celtics to cover the 1Q correlates with expecting an Under in the opening frame. Boston is driven by its defense, more and more in the postseason than even in the regular season.

And when the Celtics must focus, their defense becomes the most dominant piece of any game. Look back to Game 3 of the first round, coming off one of Boston’s only three postseason losses this year. It responded with a 21-12 first-quarter lead.

The Celtics’ defense shut off all Heat hopes.

Doing so again tonight would make sense, even if it would also be a rather open acknowledgement Boston sometimes needs to stumble in order to refocus.

NBA Finals first quarter total: Under 54 (-110 at Caesars)

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Luka Doncic Under 9.5 points (+102 at FanDuel)

Yes, Luka Doncic scored 13 points in Friday’s first quarter, going 5 of 8 in doing so. The stat that should most stand out is Doncic took eight field goals in his first 10 minutes. He took only 16 more in the next 22 of his game time.

Any Boston defensive emphasis early should come at Doncic’s expense, and that is particularly true given his first-quarter surge in Game 4.

To some degree, the Celtics must increasingly know to focus on Doncic early. He's scored 13 points in each of the last three opening quarters, taking eight shots per frame. He unquestionably succeeded, but at some point, Boston needs to adjust.

That adjustment should lessen Doncic’s early impact tonight.

Luka Doncic prop: Under 9.5 first-quarter props (+102 at FanDuel)

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