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NBA Finals Props: 5 Series Bets You Need to Make Ahead of Game 1




The NBA Finals series prices are arguably the sharpest numbers of the entire NBA season. The Game 1 spread favoring the Boston Celtics by 6.5 belongs in the same argument, no matter any Dallas Mavericks’ objections.

But there are an abundance of other markets before this series begins, ones that fit into Mavs vs. Celtics predictions.

Target some of these NBA picks before the NBA Finals tip on Thursday, June 6, and they should make the entire series more entertaining.

Five NBA series props you need to make ahead of Mavs vs Celtics

Jayson Tatum on The Glass

The Boston Celtics may have two traditional — well, traditional-ish — big men in Al Horford and Kristaps Porzingis, but Jayson Tatum has always been their best rebounder. Start with the simple reality of the regular season: Tatum led Boston with 8.1 rebounds per game, nearly a board more per game than Porzingis and almost two compared to Horford.

Tatum emphasizes his all-around game in the postseason, averaging 10.4 rebounds, well ahead of Horford’s 7.3. With Porzingis returning from a soleus strain, expectations of his leaping ability should be limited. So there is little worry Tatum will not lead the Celtics in rebounds.

Looking at Dallas’s postseason numbers, Tatum’s only genuine worry should be Luka Doncic. Dereck Lively II is No. 2 among Mavericks on the glass through three rounds, grabbing 7.2 per game. Meanwhile, Doncic has hovered at 9.6.

Those numbers alone should embolden a Tatum bet. In each of the last two postseasons — 20 games last year, 14 thus far this year — Tatum has averaged well more than 10 rebounds per game.

At -180, betting Tatum to grab more rebounds than Doncic (at DraftKings) may seem tempting, but the greater value can be found betting Tatum to lead the series in rebounds.

Bet: Jayson Tatum most rebounds in the NBA Finals (-120 at FanDuel)

Derrick White from Deep

Entering the Finals, Derrick White may be considered an X-Factor. By the end of it, he may be seen as the key to Boston’s success.

With Porzingis sidelined for the bulk of three rounds, White’s usage rate has ticked upward to 20.3%, compared to 18.7% in the regular season. That has not entirely been because of Porzingis’s absence. Among genuine Celtics contributors, only Jaylen Brown’s (+0.5%) and Al Horford’s (+1.8%) usage rates have also gone up. Horford’s is obviously tied to Porzingis’s absence. Brown’s small jump could be chalked up to sample size.

White’s, however, is rising to the playoff moment. In the regular season, he took 6.8 threes per Game. In the last 11 Games, he has taken 9 per Game, making 40.4% of them.

Yet, Luka Doncic sits at +110 to lead the series in 3-pointers.

White has been hitting more 3s per Game than Doncic has. And he will be the loose piece of Boston’s offense, quite possibly with Doncic defending him. If not Doncic, then Kyrie Irving. Meanwhile, Doncic will be going against Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, or Jrue Holiday.

Bet: Derrick White most made 3s in the NBA Finals (+330 at FanDuel)

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Playmaking Kyrie

Not to be dramatic, but this may be a legacy-making series for Kyrie Irving. Winning one NBA Finals was impressive, particularly given the Game-winner he hit in Game 7. But Irving has been adrift since that 2016 glory, and LeBron James did most of the heavy lifting in that series.

Winning another ring nearly a decade later, against a team that he had an ugly split with, would strengthen Irving’s case as an on-court legend in the modern NBA rather than a locker-room cancer that blew up three franchises since his only championship.

Irving deserves every ounce of criticism he gets, but when the games matter most, his game elevates. Three times in his last four postseasons, including this one, Irving has averaged more than five assists.

Against Minnesota last round, Irving averaged 4.6 assists. The round before that, he hummed at 6.2 against the Thunder. On a per-game basis this postseason, Boston has given up more assists to opponents than either of those Western Conference defenses.

This bet does not offer a massive payday, but Irving will have the ball in his hands more than any Maverick not named Doncic. In years past, he has turned that into assists in the postseason.

Bet: Kyrie Irving Over 4.6 assists per game in the Finals (-115 at DraftKings)

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Let’s Have Some Fun

Maybe this is not the smartest bet. It will be the most fun. At this point, some fun is defensible.

There are two versions of this bet, and both of them look at Luka Doncic as bringing value.

  • At least one overtime in the series: +190 at FanDuel
  • At least one buzzer beater to win a game: +2500 at DraftKings

Betting on the more conservative approach, that there will be at least one overtime in this series, is betting on a close game to remain tense.

Your instinct may be to look at Game 1’s 6.5-point spread as a reason to scoff at this thought, but consider what the spread should be in Dallas in Games 3 and 4. The shift in the home venue alone should bring the spread within a bucket, if not to Boston by 1.5 or 2.

Betting on at least one overtime does not sound as illogical now, does it?

If nothing else, you can cheer for more basketball, and with so little basketball left in this NBA season, we should all cheer for more basketball.

Bet: At least one overtime in the NBA Finals (+190 at FanDuel)

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