Sunday, June 16, 2024

2024 NBA Finals odds, picks, best bets for Celtics vs. Mavericks Game 1: Luka Doncic, Dallas come out firing

The 2024 NBA postseason is well underway, and the basketball betting market is hotter than ever. CBS Sports will provide daily picks for the duration of the postseason. Sam Quinn has made at least one pick for every playoff game and now we’re into the NBA Finals.

Boston Celtics vs. Dallas Mavericks

I’m going Dallas across the board in Game 1. Until I have visual evidence that Kristaps Porzingis is healthy and able to move as well as he did defensively during the regular season, I just view him as a target for Luka Doncic to hunt in pick-and-roll. Immobile big men have no chance against him, and on an injured calf, Porzingis would be a constant switch target. Boston hasn’t lost a road game yet this postseason, but the Celtics have looked surprisingly vulnerable at home, losing games to the Heat and Cavaliers and coming close in Game 1 against the Pacers. Worst-case scenario, the Mavericks haven’t lost by seven or more points since Game 1 against the Thunder. With the points, I feel relatively safe. The Pick: Mavericks +6.5

This is an over for several reasons to me. First, as we’ve covered, I expect Doncic to hunt for Porzingis and do well against him. Second, Porzingis is going to cause problems for the Dallas defense. If the Mavericks guard him with a center, he’ll just camp deep behind the 3-point line and draw their rim protectors away from the basket, and if they guard him with anyone else, he’ll kill them in the post and on mid-range jumpers. Either way, I think both teams will need a game or two to adjust defensively to the specific issues at play in this series. The Pick: Over 214.5

Both the Thunder and Timberwolves eventually came to the conclusion that the only way to stop Doncic was to trap him. Oklahoma City got there quickly. Minnesota did not. Boston is not a team that doubles especially often. They are going to go into Game 1 at least ready to try playing him one-on-one. There will be wrinkles to that, of course. Don’t be surprised if Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown wind up defending the Dallas centers so that they can essentially pre-switch onto Doncic in pick-and-roll. But I’m not expecting Boston to go into trap mode until Doncic has forced them to, so I’m therefore expecting a lot of points from him in Game 1. The Pick: Doncic Over 31.5 Points

Yes, I know, we keep going back to the Porzingis well here, but he really is the most important strategic element of this series early on. I’m expecting him to start Game 1 defending Derrick Jones Jr., not a center. Why? There are two reasons. The first is that it would allow the biggest Boston defender to serve as a roving rim protector effectively. That would mean allowing Jones to shoot, and he’s punished teams that have done so thus far this postseason, but my suspicion is that Boston will make him prove it again on the biggest stage (especially on the road). Second, putting Porzingis on Jones makes it harder for Doncic to hunt him. Why? Because it means running pick-and-roll with Jones instead of Dereck Lively or Daniel Gafford, his preferred partners. So what would this strategic approach mean? Dallas centers have a lot of chances for rebounds against smaller Celtics. The Pick: Lively Over 7.5 Rebounds

Al Horford has had a very uneven shooting postseason. Two of his last five games have seen him make six or more 3-pointers, but otherwise, he’s hit two or more in just three of his remaining 12 playoff games. He’s likely going to get fewer minutes in Game 1 with Porzingis back, and Dallas isn’t an opponent that invites double-big lineups. Horford will contribute, but I don’t see him bombing 3-pointers. The Pick: Horford Under 1.5 3-Pointers

Celtics vs. Mavericks, Game 1 info

Where to watch

Time: 8:30 p.m ET | Date: Thursday, June 6
Location: TD Garden — Boston
TV channel: ABC | Streaming: ABC/fubo

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