Published on Wednesday, June 1st
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NBA FINALS: Series Preview & Predictions
Boston Celtics vs. Golden State Warriors
Series Spread & Odds: Warriors -159, Celtics +135
Key Injuries: (BOS) Marcus Smart (ankle) and Rob Williams (knee) are both less than 100% but are expected to play Game 1. (GS) Gary Payton II (arm) and Andre Iguodala (neck) are both expected to miss Game 1 but could return in the Finals.
Season Series: Tied 1-1
Dec 17 @BOS – GS Wins 111-107
Mar 16 @GS – BOS Wins 110-88
Series Outlook: The Celtics and Warriors haven’t faced each other in the NBA Finals since 1964! These teams reconvene 58 years later, beginning in San Francisco on Thursday night. A plethora of the NBA’s biggest stars will be on display under the brightest of lights as we crossover into June.
The Warriors just made quick work of the Mavericks in 5 games back on May 26th and will certainly benefit from the additional rest. The Celtics meanwhile are fresh off a thrilling Game 7 victory in Miami, where Jimmy Butler nearly stole the series on a missed 3-point attempt with just 17 seconds left as Boston was up 2. The gritty Celtics persevered for the series win after battling adversity all season long, notably being under .500 at the break, yet advancing to the Finals with the NBA’s #1 ranked defense. With Jayson Tatum channeling his inner Kobe Bryant, making clutch shot after clutch shot in the back half of the Eastern Conference finale, #0 for the Celtics has truly arrived. In terms of youngest to reach 1,500 playoff points, Tatum ranks 2nd to his idol Kobe, beating out LeBron James by roughly 2 months.
Defensively, these teams are the cream of the crop, with the Celtics edging out the Warriors for the top-ranked defensive efficiency during the regular season. Boston is so effective in their switching on defensive that Golden State will really have to deal with a unique blend of size and athleticism that they haven’t yet experienced in the postseason. The return of Al Horford has proven to be a critical get for newly-minted GM Brad Stevens, as the veteran has done all the intangible things to help elevate this young roster to the precipice of greatness. The biggest unknown for the Celtics is the series-long availability of DPOY Marcus Smart and (Future DPOY) Rob Williams, and the status of each will have a critical impact on the outcome of the series.
There is no doubting Golden State’s ability to defend and score the basketball. The Warriors are dangerous from the perimeter with the Splash Brothers at the helm, flanked by Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole, who are both averaging career-highs in 3-point percentage. If it weren’t for Steph Curry (foot) missing about a month in the tail end of the season, Golden State would be far better than their 53-29 record suggests. Curry looks fully healthy in his return, but will be a target of Boston’s slashers on the defensive end and his foul trouble should have a major impact on this series.
The rust versus rest debate rages on for Game 1, but I absolutely expect the Warriors to have an early advantage with the extra rest at home. Every player is arguably banged up this deep in the postseason, and the rest factor can’t be overlooked. I’m a firm believer in the Celtics winning this series, but anticipate some struggles out of the gate on short-rest, compounded by the emotional drain of such a frenzied finish in the Eastern Conference Finals. The key for the Celtics will be to adopt their back-against-the-wall mentality on a nightly basis, and avoid the flat, uninspired efforts of Games 3 and 6. This series is guaranteed to serve up a clinic on clutch scoring, and will be thrilling from the opening tip. This is a prime opportunity for Jayson Tatum to truly emerge and put the entire NBA on notice that he’s the best player in the world.
|Series Value Picks|
|Series Winner||BOS (+135)|
|Game 1 / Series Double||GS / BOS (+600)|
|Series Correct Score||BOS 4-3 (+550)|
BONUS PICK – NBA FINALS MVP 2022
Jayson Tatum +170 (was +440 before Round 2)