Mavericks vs Celtics Game 1 Picks, Odds | NBA Finals Prediction

The 2024 NBA Finals begin on Thursday night, with Game 1 of Mavericks vs. Celtics set to tip off at 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC.

The Celtics are 6.5-point favorites on the spread in Thursday's series opener, while the total is set at over/under 214.5 total points at DraftKings.

Here's everything you need to know about Game 1 of the NBA Finals between Dallas and Boston -- the latest betting odds, as well as our expert picks and prediction for Thursday, June 6.

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NBA Finals Game 1 Odds

DAL @ BOS Odds

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NBA Finals Game 1 Prediction & Picks

Boston matches up particularly well against Dallas defensively. The Mavericks’ offense is heavily reliant on production from their superstar duo of guards, Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving – and very few teams have enough adequate, backcourt defensive options to solve all the problems created by the combination of Luka’s size and Kyrie’s dynamic playmaking ability. But, under normal circumstances, Boston is one of the rare exceptions. The Celtics can delegate an excellent pair of perimeter defenders to Irving with Jrue Holiday and Derrick White, and then utilize a mixture of their big, athletic wings to defend Doncic via Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

With that in mind, however, there’s so much more to the Mavericks’ offense than simply “give the ball to Luka or Kyrie, and let them try to score,” and Boston’s current injury situation isn’t ideal when it comes to defending the other crucial part of Dallas’s offensive attack: lobs and dunks. The way I see it, the x-factor in this series is the health status of Kristaps Porzingis. If Porzingis is anything less than 100% healthy (missed last two series - calf injury), it could spell trouble for Boston in this matchup defensively, because they really need his rim protection against Dallas.

Even when Boston is fully healthy, the Celtics are pretty thin in the frontcourt. Al Horford shifts into the starting lineup when Porzingis is sidelined, while Xavier Tillman and small-ball lineups usually fill in the gaps as the 38-year-old veteran rests. So, as a result of the seven-footer's latest absence, Boston has surrendered the 3rd-worst opponent field goal percentage within five feet of the basket this postseason (68.5%), which certainly doesn’t bode well heading into a matchup against a Mavs team that has slammed home 118 dunks throughout their three series thus far, as they lead all playoff teams by a huge margin in the dunk department, with Minnesota ranked 2nd at 82 slams, followed by Denver in 3rd place at 64.

It would be incredibly poetic for Kyrie Irving to complete his redemption arc with a chef’s kiss by winning the Finals against one of his former teams – and while, ultimately, I believe he and the Mavs have a decent shot of doing so, the “over” strikes me as the best play out of the gate in Game 1.

The Celtics lead the entire NBA in 3-point attempts per game (42.5), and they knock them down at the second-best clip (38.8%), which equates to the best offensive rating (123.2) in the league. It’s one big math equation for Boston. The Celtics are the best 3-point shooting team in the league, and they know that. So, why not dare everybody else to test the waters in a 3-point shootout?

Be careful what you wish for, though. Dallas is also an excellent 3-point shooting team. The Mavericks only rank 5th in long-range attempts (33.9) per game since the onset of the playoffs. But, they are making them at a 37.2% clip, which is slightly better than Boston’s postseason 3-point shooting percentage of 36.8%, primarily due to Jayson Tatum jacking up an average of 7.1 long range attempts per game at sub-30% during that time.

Tatum needs to shoot the ball much better from downtown if the Celtics are going to win this series in convincing fashion like the oddsmakers suggest, and there’s plenty of reason to believe he will do so. However, if there’s one thing we’ve learned about this Boston team, it’s they are incredibly persistent from beyond the arc. Tatum and the rest of the Celtics are going to continue to jack up a high volume 3-point attempts, regardless of whether or not their shots are going down at any given time. Boston has seen the total go over in seven of its last 10 games. I’ll take the “over” in Game 1 of this series.

Pick: Over 214.5 (-110)

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NBA Finals Game 1 Time & TV Channel

Date: Thursday, June 6
Matchup: Southwest vs. Atlantic
Venue: TD Garden
Location: Boston, MA
Time-TV: ABC, 8:30 p.m. ET

Mavericks vs Celtics Betting Stats

1) Boston Celtics
(1st Place, Atlantic)

  • Odds to Win Series: -220
  • SU: 64-18
  • ATS: 43-38-1
  • O/U: 37-44-1
  • PPG: 120.6
  • OPPG: 109.2

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5) Dallas Mavericks
(1st Place, Southwest)

  • Odds to Win Series: +185
  • SU: 50-32
  • ATS: 48-34
  • O/U: 36-45-1
  • PPG: 117.9
  • OPPG: 115.6

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