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Celtics vs Mavs Prop Picks and Best Bets for Game 3 of the NBA Finals

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The Dallas Mavericks have their backs against the wall down 0-2 in the NBA Finals. The Boston Celtics meanwhile can almost taste Banner 18, and one more quality performance will functionally end the series. 

It may only be Game 3, but desperation will be a key factor I consider as I make my free NBA picks for Celtics vs. Mavericks props on Wednesday, June 12.

Best NBA player props today

  • Luka Doncic Over 9.5 assists (+110 at DraftKings)
  • Luka Doncic Over 8.5 first-quarter points (-108 at DraftKings)
  • Jrue Holiday Over 5.5 rebounds (-160 at betway)

Picks made on 6-11 at 11:30 a.m. ET.

NBA player props for June 12

Prop bet #1: Doncic Over 9.5 assists

It’s hard to be too optimistic after falling into an 0-2 hole against a team as good as the Boston Celtics, but the Dallas Mavericks aren’t cooked just yet. Though they lost, there was an important development in Game 2: Luka Doncic began to figure out the Celtics' defense.

After the Boston cross-matching and willingness to play him straight up in pick and roll held Luka to a piddling single assist in Game 1, he roared back with 11 in Game 2. As he did in the first three rounds of the playoffs, Luka has begun to internalize and dissect every coverage Boston is showing him and methodically finding answers for them.

Luka had 14 potential assists in Game 2, which might not sound like a lot given the margin of these Luka Doncic odds, but it’s all about the shots those potential assists actually generated. Even though the Mavericks' role players didn’t shoot well overall, Luka was personally getting them high-percentage looks.

Luka finished with 11 assists, but nine of those 11 came on passes that led to shots in the paint. Many of them were right at the rim. 

Luka was more successful getting the Celtics to put two on the ball more in Game 2, and in those situations, he will pick the defense apart on the backline. Those passes are easy for him. He found his first few lobs of the series as well, as both he and the roll man became more used to navigating Boston’s pressure.

The Mavs also played simple basketball. Luka attacked the Celtics’ cross-matching by feeding Daniel Gafford in the post against Jayson Tatum for two easy buckets (and two assists). That cross-match is critical to the Celtics' defensive game plan, so I expect Luka to keep picking at it to make Boston pay for it.

Luka found something in Game 2, and with the boost that comes from playing at home and the desperate desire to keep the season alive, I think this line underestimates his playmaking potential in Game 3.

Luka Doncic prop: Over 9.5 assists (+110 at DraftKings)

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Prop bet #2: Doncic Over 8.5 first quarter points

After Luka managed just one assist in Game 1, he went back to the drawing board. The Celtics had been too comfortable in their base defense, and he was determined to change the calculus for them in Game 2.

On the very first possession of the game, he attacked Derrick White in isolation. On his second possession, he got Al Horford on a switch and attempted to score on him in isolation. He then attacked Tatum in the lane and scored. 

And he just kept attacking and looking for his own shot to begin the first quarter; he finished the frame with 13 points on 5-7 from the field.

Far from being selfish, Luka’s shoot-first mentality was done out of concern for the team.

He was making a clear point: “Send help, or I will keep scoring”. His relentlessness eventually opened up his passing game.

Similarly, he was aggressive with his 3-point shot in the first quarter. He took every three when the Celtics defense offered him even an inch of daylight.

His willingness to shoot so quickly was also a deliberate choice. It forced the Celtics to react. They had to either close out hard, fight through the pick, or switch a player that Doncic had manipulated into the screening action. 

All of those things compromise the defense just a bit in one way or another, and Luka knows that bending the defense is the only way his teammates are going to get makeable shots.

Luka will have to establish his own isolation scoring again in Game 3 to get the Mavs offense flowing, so I expect him to be hyper-aggressive in the first quarter with the season on the line.

Luka Doncic prop: Over 8.5 first quarter points (-108 at DraftKings)

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Prop bet #3: Holiday Over 5.5 rebounds

Jrue Holiday has arguably been the Celtics' most impactful player through two games. While his scoring was the big story from Game 2, he’s been dominating in ways both quiet and loud, as is his fashion.

A big part of his impact has come on the glass, where he’s accumulated an eye-popping 19 rebounds through the first two games despite being just 6-foot-4.

The Celtics have put the Mavericks in scramble mode on defense in both games, with multiple drive and kick actions leading to open shots. Even when those shots miss, the Celtics, and Holiday in particular, have found themselves in favorable spots to rebound the ball.

There are a few reasons for that. For one, Holiday is much stronger than his Mavericks opponents, and he never has to worry about his matchup (Kyrie Irving) on the glass whatsoever. This allows him to freelance on the boards.

The Mavs bigs have also been largely ineffectual on the glass. They are having a difficult time playing close to the rim because of the five-out system the Celtics use, where Kristaps Porzingis or Horford are always spacing the floor at the five.

One of the ways Dallas is trying to maintain a big in the paint is by hiding their center on Holiday, considered a lesser shooter than the other Celtics perimeter players. Jrue made them pay by leaking in from the corner to attack the offensive glass when Gafford or Dereck Lively II had their head turned. Holiday finished Game 2 with four offensive rebounds.

On the other end, the Celtics are showing utter disdain for the Mavericks players not named Luka or Kyrie beyond the arc. They’re cheating deep into the paint and daring them to drive into traffic or take a lightly-contested three, Holiday is often in position to grab a nearly uncontested defensive rebound as a result.

This line has already moved to 6.5 at most Sportsbooks, so if you’re keen on these Jrue Holiday odds too, you’ll have to be quick about it.

Jrue Holiday prop: Over 5.5 rebounds (-160 at betway)

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