NBA Finals Game 1 Betting Picks and Prediction (Mavericks-Celtics)

Riley Thomas
Riley Thomas_riley8

Game 1 of the 2024 NBA Finals tips off on Thursday, June 6th at 8:30 p.m. ET. The Dallas Mavericks have flourished as the road team throughout the postseason and will be looking to do it once again. The Boston Celtics are touting a 12-2 record in the playoffs. Will the Celtics finally finish the job instead of falling short of another title?

numberFire is giving Boston a 91.73% chance of winning this series. According to FanDuel Sportsbook's NBA Finals odds, the Mavericks are +188 to hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy. It all begins on Thursday.

Without much surprise, FanDuel has the Celtics as a home favorite in Game 1 (-250). Let's break down the series-opening contest for the 2024 NBA Finals.

All NBA odds come from FanDuel Sportsbook and may change after this article is published.

NBA Playoffs Betting

Mavericks-Celtics Betting Odds

Date and Time: Thursday, June 6th at 8:30 p.m. ET

Spread: Celtics -6.5 (-106)

Total: 214.5


  • Mavericks: +205
  • Celtics: -250

Mavericks vs. Celtics Advanced Stats Breakdown

nERD via numberFire. Adjusted offensive/defensive ratings and pace via DunksAndThrees.

  • Mavericks:
    • nERD: 57.1 (12th)
    • Adjusted Offensive Rating: 117.5 (7th)
    • Adjusted Defensive Rating: 115.3 (18th)
    • Pace: 100.4 (8th)
    • Against-the-Spread Record: 48-34-0
  • Celtics:
    • nERD: 80.8 (1st)
    • Adjusted Offensive Rating: 122.0 (1st)
    • Adjusted Defensive Rating: 111.2 (2nd)
    • Pace: 97.7 (19th)
    • Against-the-Spread Record: 41-36-5

Mavericks vs. Celtics Best Bet

Mavericks +6.5 (-114)
Over 214.5 (-112)

The public seems to be on the Mavericks with about 76% of spread picks backing Dallas. The Mavs are 4-2 over the first two games of series in the 2024 playoffs. All six games were on the road, as well.

Additionally, we should consider that both of Boston's postseason losses came in Game 2 at home as double-digit favorites. The Celtics were also fortunate to win Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals thanks to the Indiana Pacers' late-game miscues, but they still failed to cover the spread in this overtime win.

Pair Dallas -- who has flourished on the road -- with the Celtics, who have had some surprising no-shows at home during the playoffs, and this could mean a cover for the Mavericks.

The Mavs have been exceptional in the painted area throughout the playoffs, especially when it comes to defending the rim. They just won the paint battle in three of five games against the Minnesota Timberwolves, who gave up the third-fewest points in the paint during the regular season and was in the top half of points in the paint scored.

During the playoffs, the Celtics have surrendered the seventh-most points in the paint per game among the 16 postseason squads. Meanwhile, Dallas has given up the fourth-fewest points in the paint in the playoffs, and the 42.7 mark is a big improvement from their regular-season average of 49.6 (14th-most).

Boston has the fifth-lowest percentage of points coming from the paint during the postseason while taking the fourth-fewest shots per game within five feet of the basket.

Most of the Celtics' offense will likely come from three-point land, per usual. They have logged the most three-point makes and attempts each contest in the playoffs. The Mavs have truly been a different defensive team across the board, for they have also given up 32.9 three-point attempts in the postseason -- which is the sixth-fewest mark. This is yet another notable jump compared to allowing 35.2 during regular-season play.

The moral of the story? Dallas' defense has been much better, which gives them a better chance in this series than the odds suggest. We know the Mavericks can score with the seventh-best regular-season offensive rating.

Among qualifying players, Jrue Holiday has the lowest defensive rating in the starting lineup during the playoffs for Boston (108.7). We know Holiday has the defensive chops that gives the Celtics a good chance of slowing Kyrie Irving. However, defending Luka Doncic is a different story.

This task will likely be given to Derrick White and Jaylen Brown. Due to his frame and strength, Brown will likely draw most of the defensive assignments, but he has the highest defensive rating in the Celtics' starting lineup in the playoffs. Luka has torched Boston this season with 35.0 points per game (PPG) while shooting better than 47.0% from the floor.

I'm not sure if the Celtics have the tools to slow Doncic, which could require them to throw a wave of defenders at the superstar guard. If this is the case, this should only open up even more three-point looks for Dallas. The Mavericks are shooting 37.2% from three in the playoffs.

Considering Dallas' consistent success on the road during the playoffs, I'm taking them to cover Game 1.

We've addressed how the Mavs can score on Boston. The Celtics should find offensive success, too, with the playoffs' second-highest offensive rating.

Similar to Boston's challenge of guarding Luka, Dallas could lack the tools to defend Jayson Tatum and Brown. Derrick Jones Jr. has been a solid defender in the postseason with a 110.2 defensive rating; he could be a solid matchup for Brown. What about Tatum, though?

This matchup could be split between Doncic and PJ Washington. Luka has never been known as a high-quality defender, and Washington has seen his regular-season defensive rating of 109.9 spike to 112.8 during the postseason.

Both squads could come up short in slowing the best players on the court. I expect this series to have plenty of scoring.

numberFire has a 73.03% likelihood for the over compared to the implied odds of 52.8%. Massey Ratings also has a 221.5 total for Game 1 of the Finals. Along with Mavericks covering the spread, give me the over.

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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author’s advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.