NBA Finals betting: Will Celtics start slow again in Game 1?

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·Betting analyst
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Two-hundred and twenty-four days ago, Steph Curry opened the Warriors' season by dropping his eighth career triple-double in a 121-114 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. Curry shot only 23% from the floor, but his 10 rebounds and 10 assists started Golden State's season with a W. Since the first game, the Warriors found ways to win even when the buckets were hard to come by for Curry.

As they enter the NBA Finals for the sixth time in eight years, they will need that trait more than ever against Boston. While all eyes will be on the best player on the court, the complementary players will play a significant role in determining if Golden State can add one more trophy to its championship run.

The Warriors are -160 favorites to become NBA champions, which might be steep considering how dominant the Celtics have been over the past few months. But let's take it one game at a time. I feel there will be an opportunity to apply the same strategy we profited from in the Eastern Conference finals, and enter the market on Boston mid-series. I have three bets lined up for Thursday night, so let's get to the action.

Golden State (-3.5) over Boston

The road to the NBA Finals has not been easy for the Boston Celtics. DPOY Marcus Smart is battling injuries, and the grind of consecutive seven-game series has to take its toll. I successfully faded Boston in Miami for the series opener, where the Celtics lost, 118-107. The opportunity is knocking again, but this time with Golden State coming off a whole week's rest. Game 1 is already a spot where teams perform poorly off a Game 7 win (32-51 via Raheem Palmer). When you factor in the additional rest with the overall experience of this Golden State team, I like their chances Thursday night. This postseason, the Warriors are 7-2 ATS at home and have cashed for bettors in four of the last five. Steph will strike first, and then it will be up to Boston to make the adjustments for Game 2.

Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics drives to the basket against the Golden State Warriors during an NBA game on March 16. (Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics drives to the basket against the Golden State Warriors during an NBA game on March 16. (Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

Golden State (-0.5) over Boston — 1st Quarter

The Dallas Mavericks went into the Western Conference finals after a Game 7 against the Suns, and Golden State buried them early. In the opening quarter, the Warriors outscored the Mavericks, 28-18, and never looked back en route to a 25-point win. The story was Dallas shooting only 36% from the floor, but the Mavs looked lost adjusting to Golden State's ball movement. The Celtics' defense is better equipped to deal with Golden State's unique style of play. However, I am betting we don't see it in the first 12 minutes. This postseason, Boston has been a solid bet in the first quarter (6-3 ATS), but this is the first NBA Finals experience for every single player that will hit the floor wearing green. Back the Warriors to get off to a hot start and win the first quarter.

Andrew Wiggins — Over 6.5 rebounds (+110)

Wiggins has been a catalyst for Golden State's championship run and has contributed everywhere. He knocks down buckets in clutch spots, makes their opponent's best scorer earn every shot and does the dirty work on the boards. Wiggins knows those little things can be the difference in a series like this and he'll be more valuable than ever. Wiggins grabbed 10 or more rebounds in two of the last three games against Dallas and has averaged at least seven in the previous two series. Second-chance points will be critical to Golden State's success, and Wiggins will be more than willing to make a difference on the glass. An above-average rebounding night sounds like a solid bet in a game that I like Golden State to win.

Stats provided by nba.com, evanalytics.com, and teamrankings. com

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