Mavericks vs. Celtics NBA Expert Prediction and Odds for NBA Finals Game 1 (Can Boston Cover?)

Who should you bet to cover the spread in Game 1 of the NBA Finals?
Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum.
Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum. / Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

After a week off, the NBA returns for the Dallas Mavericks-Boston Celtics matchup in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night. 

Boston – the favorite in the series – comes into this matchup as a 6.5-point favorite after Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and company rolled through the Eastern Conference, going 12-2 to reach the Finals.

The Mavericks have been a little more battle-tested, but they flexed their muscle in the Western Conference Finals to close the Minnesota Timberwolves out in five games behind four games of 32 points or more from Luka Doncic. 

Dallas has struggled in Game 1s in the Jason Kidd era, going 1-5 straight up, but 6.5 points is quite the spread for an opening game in the Finals. Can Boston, who had the No. 1 net rating in the regular season – and so far in the playoffs – show why it’s the favorite on Thursday?

Here’s our full betting preview with the latest odds, key players to watch and a best bet for Game 1: 

Mavericks vs. Celtics Odds, Spread and Total


  • Mavericks +6.5 (-110)
  • Celtics -6.5 (-110)


  • Mavericks: +190
  • Celtics: -230


  • 214.5 (Over -110/Under -110)

Mavericks vs. Celtics How to Watch

  • Date: Thursday, June 6
  • Time: 8:30 p.m. EST
  • Venue: TD Garden
  • How to watch (TV): ABC
  • Series: Tied 0-0

Mavericks vs. Celtics Injury Reports

Mavericks Injury Report

  • Not submitted yet

Celtics Injury Report

  • Not submitted yet

Mavericks vs. Celtics Key Players to Watch

Dallas Mavericks

Luka Doncic: The 2023-24 regular season MVP finalist leads the playoffs in total points, rebounds, assists, steals and 3-pointers made, recording six triple-doubles in 17 games. Luka really came on in the Western Conference Finals, scoring 32 or more points in all four of Dallas’ wins, and he is going to be the main focus for Boston’s defense in Game 1. 

Boston Celtics

Jayson Tatum: Jayson Tatum has not shot the ball well in the postseason – 44.2 percent from the field, 29.0 percent from 3 – but he’s made an impact elsewhere averaging over 10 rebounds and five assists per game. Tatum didn’t play his best in his first NBA Finals appearance in 2022, but the Celtics star has a better team around him – and that experience to lean on – in this series. 

Mavericks vs. Celtics Prediction and Pick

Boston deserves a little more respect for its run to the Finals, even if it faced a few banged-up teams along the way.

The C’s needed just 14 games to get through the East, winning in blowouts against Miami and Cleveland as well as taking three games against the Indiana Pacers where the Pacers had a 90 percent win probability or higher in the fourth quarter of three of the four games. 

An interesting trend for Game 1 of the NBA Finals surfaced this week, showing that since 2005, the favorite is 16-3 ATS in Game 1. 

I think that bodes well for a Boston team that covered in two of its three Game 1s so far this postseason and was 37-4 straight up at home in the regular season. The C’s also posted a 26-21-2 against the spread record as home favorites this season, winning those games by an average margin of victory of 14.4 points.

I have a lot of respect for the run Dallas made, but Jason Kidd’s team has struggled in Game 1s since he took over, going 1-5 straight up and losing four of those five games by seven or more points. 

I’m worried about Dallas’ role players and whether or not they’ll make enough shots for key defenders like Derrick Jones Jr. and PJ Washington to stay on the floor for the majority of the game. Boston, on the other hand, is going to be even deeper with Kristaps Porzingis likely back in action. 

I’ll lay the points with the C’s in Game 1. 

Pick: Celtics -6.5 (-110)

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.

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.