NBA Finals odds and expert picks: Predicting Celtics-Mavericks winner, series length and MVP



With the NBA Finals set to tip off on Thursday night, the internet is awash in analysis, hot takes, breakdowns and more. The storylines for the Boston Celtics vs. Dallas Mavericks are epic. Kyrie Irving and Kristaps Porziņģis battling against their former teams. Two uncrowned head coaches going head-to-head. Boston going for a league-record total of championships. Stars aiming to get their first ring.

Today, we’re breaking down some of these narratives in the context of the betting odds and polled our NBA experts to get their picks for the series winner, total games and NBA Finals MVP before the series officially kicks off.

Game 1 is Thursday at 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC. Keep an eye out for odds previews and picks for each game, coming soon.

All odds from BetMGM. Find the best deals on StubHub for tickets.


 NBA Finals winner

The Celtics, who start the series with home-court advantage, are favored to win the NBA Finals. If they do win, Boston will set a record for total NBA titles. They’re currently tied with the rival Los Angeles Lakers with 17 NBA championships. But it would be the first for this specific squad, as the Celtics haven’t won a championship since 2008.

In fact, regardless of which team wins this Finals, the championship will be a first-time coronation for some of the league’s best players. Jayson Tatum, Luka Dončić and Jaylen Brown are among the league’s brightest stars right now, and none of them have a ring yet. This will be Dončić’s first NBA Finals.

So, how do the Celtics and Mavericks stack up? Dallas is the sixth team in NBA history to make it to the Finals as a fifth seed or lower. They’ve delivered on the promise of being the scariest lower-seeded team, eliminating the No. 4 Clippers, No. 1 Thunder and No. 3 Timberwolves. Their two stars, Dončić and Kyrie Irving, have proven to be elite closers.

On the other hand, Celtics coach Joe Mazulla has never lost to the Mavericks. He is 4-0 against Dallas head coach Jason Kidd. In their two matchups during the regular season, Boston put away Dallas by nine points in January and 28 points in March. And that was with Dallas at full strength both times.

If Porziņģis comes back at 100 percent, the Celtics should be able to spread out the Mavericks better than any of the teams they’ve faced thus far. But will he be at 100 percent? Will incorporating him back into the lineup cause friction? The Mavericks will surely be testing for weak points.

I like these odds for the Mavs right now. They’re proving their clutch factor at the right time, though the Celtics have yet to give us any reason to think they’re not the best team in the league.

NBA Finals total games

Prior to the first game on Thursday, the odds are very close for this series to go either five or six games. A sweep is far less likely with double the odds compared to seven games.

If both teams play at the level we’ve seen them in these playoffs, this should be a very competitive, exciting series. Most of our experts are predicting as much, going with six or seven games total.

Expert picks for NBA Finals winner and total games

Expert

  

Pick to Win

  

Total Games

  

James Edwards III

5

Andrew Schlecht

6

Jason Jones

6

Richard Deitsch

6

David DuFour

6

Law Murray

7

John Hollinger

6

Mike Prada

6

J.E. Skeets

7

Jon Krawczynski

7


NBA Finals MVP

Tatum is the favorite to win NBA Finals MVP, with Dončić logically next in the odds. These are great odds for Dončić, who played lights-out in the Mavs’ last series. Brown has been close to Tatum statistically in this postseason thus far. Of the top two favorites, Dončić is averaging 28.8 points, 8.8 assists and 9.6 rebounds per game through the postseason, and Tatum is averaging 26 points, 5.9 assists and 10 rebounds per game.

Our experts who picked the Celtics are divided on which player might get MVP, split between Tatum, Brown and even Jrue Holiday.

Everyone picking the Mavs is picking Dončić.

Expert picks for NBA Finals MVP

Expert

  

MVP

  

James Edwards III

Andrew Schlecht

Jason Jones

Richard Deitsch

David DuFour

Law Murray

John Hollinger

Mike Prada

J.E. Skeets

Jon Krawczynski

(Photo of Jayson Tatum: Nathaniel S. Butler / NBAE via Getty Images)



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