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Celtics favored to win Game 1 and NBA Finals series, but money is rolling in on the Mavericks – Metro US

Celtics favored to win Game 1 and NBA Finals series, but money is rolling in on the Mavericks

Mavericks Timberwolves Basketball
The Dallas Mavericks pose for a team photograph after a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals in the NBA basketball playoffs Thursday, May 30, 2024, in Minneapolis. The Mavericks won 124-103, taking the series 4-1 and moving on to the NBA Finals. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Celtics are prohibitive favorites to win Thursday’s Game 1 of the NBA Finals and odds are on Boston to hoist what would be its record 18th championship banner.

But the money, at least at BetMGM Sportsbook, is pouring in on the Dallas Mavericks.

Senior trader Halvor Egeland said Monday that 80% of the bets were coming on Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving and the Mavs to win their second NBA title. Boston is a -225 favorite to win it all, meaning someone would need to wager $225 to win $100.

As for the series opener, the Celtics are 6 1/2-point favorites, but 63% of the money has been on the Mavericks to cover the spread. Dallas is receiving 70% of the bets to win the game outright at +200.

“Pretty much, the public is just believing in the Mavericks,” Egeland said.

Despite that, the Celtics’ odds have remained consistently solid not only at BetMGM but other sportsbooks as well. Even though Egeland said professional bettors are largely sitting out this series because they don’t find much betting value, he said he didn’t expect the lines to be significantly affected.

“We feel it’s the correct betting line,” Egeland said. “If we were trading strictly off money, we would’ve moved it towards the Mavericks because it’s all Mavericks money. But we’re trying to get to a point where we’re at like an equilibrium — half the time (betting is) going to be on one side, half the time it’s going to go on the other. We’ve landed at 6 1/2 and that’s the strategy you take.”

Egeland said there’s a reason the Celtics are favored.

“The Celtics had an 82-game season and they’ve been the best team all year,” he said. “I know they haven’t had the toughest competition to get to the Finals, but like I said, they’ve had 82 games to prove themselves, and they’ve done nothing but show you that they’re that good of a team.”

THE PORZINGIS FACTOR

Part of the reason for the opening-game spread, Egeland said, is the expected return of Boston’s Kristaps Porzingis. He hasn’t played since straining his left calf in Game 4 of the opening round against the Miami Heat.

Porzingis not only would give the Celtics size if he is back, but the 7-footer is an effective 3-point shooter, creating a difficult matchup for the Mavs. He averaged 20.1 points and 7.2 rebounds during the regular season.

Egeland said if the Celtics have to sit Porzingis yet again, they likely would drop to 4 1/2- or 5-point favorites.

“The team’s been pretty good without him,” DraftKings sportsbook operations director Johnny Avello said. “So with him, it makes them even that much better. Will he be able to get back into the mix kind of quickly? I think so. This series could be a seven-game series, so any bodies you can get in there and contribute, they are welcome for both sides.”

RUST VS. REST

Both teams have received extended time off to prepare for this series after the Celtics swept the Indiana Pacers and the Mavericks eliminated the Minnesota Timberwolves in five games.

“I would say the Mavs had it a little bit harder than the Celts did, so maybe (the layoff) would affect the Celtics more since they didn’t get pushed much,” Avello said. “The Mavs’ 4-1 (series victory) wasn’t really reflective of how that series went, although you consider the Celtics, too. They could’ve lost an early game (to Indiana). It certainly would’ve changed the complexion of that series.”

Egeland said the extra prep time should especially benefit Porzingis, but also noted that Doncic has been playing on a gimpy knee and ankle.

M-V-P!

Jayson Tatum is a -120 favorite to be the Finals MVP at BetMGM, but Doncic is close behind at +200. DraftKings has Doncic at -205 and Tatum at +280, nearly a complete flip from late last week.

“He’s taking more money,” Avello said of Doncic before the odds changed.

HOW LONG CAN IT GO?

The odds at BetMGM favor the series ending in anywhere between five and seven games, with the odds ranging from +200 to +225. A sweep is at +450.

DraftKings is even more bullish on a long series, posting the chances of it going six or seven games at -150 compared to +125 to be shorter.


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