Celtics vs. Mavs NBA Finals prediction: Odds, betting advice, player props for championship series

Source: The Sporting News

The stage has been set for the 2024 NBA Finals: the top-seeded Celtics will play the fifth-seeded Mavericks to determine the next champion of professional hoops.

For months, fans and bettors have had a good idea of which teams will be contending for the title. Now, only two teams remain — and the BetMGM odds suggest that one team has a significant advantage over the other.

Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and the Celtics won 64 regular-season games and went 12-2 in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving and the surging Mavericks knocked off the West-leading Thunder and No. 1 defense of the Timberwolves to get to this stage.

Will Boston cruise to its 18th championship and raise a banner into the TD Garden rafters for the second time since the end of the Larry Bird era? Or, will Dallas return to the glory last brought to the city by Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry in 2011?

We’ll answer all those questions and more as we update the 2024 NBA championship odds and reveal the latest best bets to win it all and hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy. 

NBA Finals prediction: Updated championship odds


All season long, the Tatum and Brown-led Celtics (-225) have enjoyed the shortest NBA Finals odds. They dominated the NBA in the regular season, winning 64 games and securing the No. 1 seed weeks before the postseason started. Now they have won 12 of 14 playoff games and benefit from getting injured center Kristaps Porzingis back in time to face his old team for the title.

Ever since the Nuggets got eliminated by the Timberwolves in the second round, Boston has represented BetMGM’s biggest liability on the Finals NBA betting market. That’s no surprise, given Joe Mazzulla’s squad finished top three in both offensive and defensive rating this season and possesses arguably the best six-man rotation in the Association.

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The Mavericks (+180) serve as a formidable Finals underdog. After acquiring Daniel Gafford and P.J. Washington at the trade deadline, Dallas went on a late-season rampage up the standings and took care of business in the playoffs against the Clippers, Thunder, and Wolves. Doncic and Irving have been fantastic, and the constant lobs and interior defense have made the Mavs a very fun team to watch and bet on. 

When odds opened at the start of the postseason, BetMGM gave Dallas an implied probability of just under four percent to win the Finals. That’s less Luka respect than we’ve seen out of Devin Booker! Sportsbooks started coming around on Dallas in the semifinals, when the Mavs started playing some of the best defense of the postseason. Don’t sleep on Kidd’s squad!

NBA Finals prediction: Best bet

It’s hard to stay away from the Celtics as the best bet to win it all. They have been the most complete team from top to bottom on both ends of the floor, they have home-court advantage, and they seem to be suffering from far fewer of the late-game isolation issues and poor execution than they have in the past.

Tatum and Brown have been outstanding, and the backcourt defense and playmaking of Jrue Holiday and Derrick White has been tremendous. The Celtics have also benefited from ageless wonder Al Horford down low and outside the three-point arc. With more leadership and experience compared to when Boston made the Finals in 2022, the C’s have the advantage.

Another key advantage for Boston: it gets starting center Porzingis back in time for the Finals. KP has fit like a glove in Mazzulla’s system, and with Horford the Boston bench has been better than any diehard Green-teamers expected.

As long as the Celtics have an answer for Luka and Kyrie in the high screen-and-roll game, and they don’t get exposed too much on the interior by the Mavs’ lobs and rim protection, Boston should have this one in the bag.

FINALS PREDICTION: Celtics in 6 (+350). Boston gets it done and secures its 18th NBA championship, winning the series (-225) and covering the -1.5 series spread (+105). 

NBA Finals prediction: Top player props

Luka Doncic to lead the series in scoring (-175)

While Boston can get a flurry of scoring from either of the Jays or any of its complementary players from one game to the next, Doncic has very consistently been the No. 1 scorer for Dallas all season. And the bigger the stakes, the better he seems to shoot.

Doncic is coming off a Western Conference Finals in which he averaged 32.4 points per game against the Wolves, the NBA’s top defense. He shot 43.4 percent from three-point land and 84.6 percent from the free-throw line, both easily the best marks he has ever enjoyed in a postseason series. Win or lose, Luka will score the most points in this series — and it might not be close.

Jayson Tatum to score 25+ points in each game (+300)

This seems like a high-value series future, given that JT’s usage remains sky-high and the Mavs don’t have a great defensive option to contain him. The Celts’ top scorer also has the extra motivation of winning his first Finals MVP after running mate Jaylen Brown took down Eastern Conference Finals MVP (Tatum already has one of those). 

Tatum has scored 25-plus points in seven of Boston’s past eight postseason games, with the sole exception coming in the Celtics’ 16-point blowout of the Pacers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals. He has taken 22.9 shots per game over his past seven games, and he averaged 35.5 PPG against Dallas during the regular season. This prop is a smash bet.

THE AUTHOR: Sloan Piva

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