Key Trends to Know Before Betting Mavericks vs. Celtics NBA Finals Game 1

There are some interesting betting trends to know before betting on Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) drives the ball against Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown.
Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) drives the ball against Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown. / David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Game 1 of the 2024 NBA Finals is inching closer, and we're starting to see some interesting Game 1 betting trends come to light.

The Boston Celtics are favored by 6.5 points in Game 1 against the Dallas Mavericks with a total set at 214.5 at DraftKings Sportsbook. While Boston is heavily favored to win this series, does that mean it will fare well in Game 1?

There are some conflicting historical trends to look at, as well as the season-long records from these teams that could help us make a bet for Thursday's series opener.

Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.

Favorites Have Historically Dominated Game 1...

Dating back to 2005, the team that is favored in Game 1 of the NBA Finals has dominated, going 16-3 against the spread.

Ironically, Boston is one of the few teams that won and covered as an underdog in Game 1 back in the 2022 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors.

This trend would favor the Celtics, who have been a dominant team at home all season long, going 37-4 straight up in the regular season. Boston has also went 3-0 in Game 1s in the playoffs, covering the spread in two of those matchups.

... But Recently They've Struggled When Favored By 6 or More

Now, ready for the curveball?

Since 2020, there are have been seven instances where a team has been favored by six or more points in the NBA Finals, and Boston fits that bill in Game 1 as a 6.5-point favorite.

Those teams are just 1-6 against the spread.

Now, Boston could still win Game 1 and fail to cover, which would be fine in the eyes of C's fans, but bettors may want to be careful laying such a big number in a Finals game.

Mavericks Are Best Road Team Against the Spread This Season

When it comes to playing on the road, there hasn't been a single team better to bet on than the Mavericks.

They are an NBA-best 34-16 against the spread on the road, but we can break that down even further. As a road underdog, Dallas is 14-11 against the spread, not nearly as dominant of a mark as that 34-16 number.


Well, the Mavs also went an NBA-best 20-5 against the spread as road favorites. It's highly unlikely Dallas will be favored in Boston in this series, but it still has been better than most on the road as an underdog.

Boston Has Fared Well As Home Favorite in 2023-24 Season

The Celtics come into Game 1 with a 26-21-2 against the spread record as home favorites this season, but what stands out is that the average margin of victory in those games is 14.4 points.

Boston has lost two games at home in the playoffs, but both of those came in a Game 2 scenario.

Essentially, all these trends can help us frame a bet, but I wouldn't use them as gospel when it comes to betting on Game 1. There are ways to discount every trend (as you can see with the ones mentioned in this story), so it's important to look at more than that before placing your wager for Thursday's Finals opener.

Odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.

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Find Peter Dewey's betting record here You can also follow my daily plays on BetStamp here.

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Peter Dewey


Peter is a senior editor for Sports Illustrated Betting. He has worked as a writer and editor for BetSided, NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering the NBA, WNBA, NFL, MLB, and more. A New York City resident, he is a hoops fanatic with a soft spot for his New York Knicks.