NBA Best Bets Of The Day (6/12)


Welcome to Hoops with Noops! The Celtics have looked like the dominant team we saw all season for the first two games of the NBA Finals. They won Games 1 and 2 by a combined 25 points despite shooting below their season average.

It would seem Boston’s championship is inevitable, but things are changing. The Mavericks get to return home to Dallas, where they should shoot better and not have to deal with an opposing fan base. There is also the murky situation surrounding Kristaps Porzingis and his ability to play. After having a great Game 1 and start to Game 2, KP tweaked something in his ankle or lower leg and struggled to move for the remainder of the game. If he can’t play, will the Celtics be able to win having to play Luke Cornet or even Xavier Tillman, or will the Mavericks defense be able to take advantage?

There’s a lot to consider, so let’s review how each team has started, see how the odds have moved game-to-game, and try to find a wager worth our money. Of course, be sure to join the FTN team and myself for a live watch party. We’ll be on Playback where we can show the game, share out live bets, and get you involved in the conversation.

NBA Best Bets for Wednesday

Dallas Mavericks at Boston Celtics

Current Line – Mavericks -2.5, 213.5
My Projection – Celtics 106, Mavericks 105
Key Injuries – Kristaps Porzingis is questionable

Games 1 and 2 showed us why Kristaps Porzingis is so important for the Boston Celtics to play their best basketball. His shooting is pulling Daniel Gafford and Dereck Lively II away from the rim. That has allowed Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum to attack the basket freely and the Celtics have shot 83% from the restricted area through two games. Porzingis’ ability to shoot over smaller players gives Boston a good option when the shot clock is close to expiring. We saw several possessions, especially in Game 1, where the ball finds KP late and he just pulls up to shoot over the man in front of him. Defensively, KP’s rim protection has changed shots and kept Dallas from being able to clean looks at the hoop. Brown, Tatum, Jrue Holiday, and Derrick White are the strong foundation of this winning team and Porzingis is the final piece that unlucks everything for the Celtics.

The Mavericks lost two games they were supposed to lose, but they can’t feel great even though they are returning home where they are small favorites. As I mentioned, the Celtics ability to play five good shooters for virtually the entire game has compromised a key part of the Mavericks defense. Gafford and Lively were able to stay near the basket throughout the Western Conference playoffs because every team they faced always had one big man or non-shooter on the floor. Gafford and Lively didn’t have to go out to the three point line and were always near the hoop to defend it. Jason Kidd and the Dallas coaching staff has to find a way to keep their centers from getting to far away from the basket. They also need to find a way to generate better looks on offense. Kyrie Irving, P.J. Washington and Derrick Jones Jr. are a combined 2-for-21 from beyond the arc. Teams always shoot better at home so maybe that will help, but the Mavericks are struggling to get the clean looks they need to score efficiently.

The Celtics closed as 6.5-point favorites in the first two games. We see the market has adjusted that number by nine. That might seem like a big number, but the books have generally moved the spread seven or more points when teams change venue and the remainder of the adjustment can be attributed to Porzingis’ questionable status. The total was set at 216.5 for Game 1, closed at 215 for Game 2, and is down to 213.5 for Wednesday. The pace for the first two games has been around 93 which isn’t slow, but is certainly not fast enough to get the total to go over given that neither team has shot the ball well yet. That efficiency could come back at any time, but games tend to slow down as the series goes on and teams are forced to grind through possessions in search of the best shots. Overall, I agree with the current odds. I’m a little below the total and have Boston as a just barely the favorite but neither edge is big enough to bet.

Luckily there is a bet I like and have made in almost every Boston game this postseason. Jayson Tatum has taken a different role with the Celtics in these playoffs. He has been used more as a power forward and has been asked to be more of a rebounder and passer than a scorer. Tatum hasn’t attacked much in the post or the midrange like we’ve seen him do in years past. Instead, he is shooting threes and attacking the basket, which are efficient shots but ones that defenses are prepared to try to stop. His shooting rates have dropped and he’s shooting less free throws. Our model at FTN projects Jayson Tatum to score 23.59 points, he’s averaging 23.1 points per game in the playoffs, and the books are hanging his point total at 26.5. That’s an easy under for me.


Jayson Tatum Under 26.5 Points (-105, BetMGM)

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