All odds are provided by Caesars Sportsbook.
What you need to know for Game 1 of the NBA Finals
W for the W’s: The Warriors have won 21 of 23 Game 1s during their dynastic run, and while they’ve been heavy favorites for much of that time, they do boast a winning record against the spread in those spots (13-10). Even more interesting is the fact that in nine of those covers, under tickets have cashed, a trend that could continue given Golden State’s time to prepare for a Boston offense that relies heavily on two players.
The Smart plays?: Keep an eye on how the Warriors defend Marcus Smart. The Celtics will want to make Stephen Curry work on the defensive end, so Smart being aggressive early is probably the game plan. Combine that with what we all saw in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, with the Heat daring Smart to knock down shots, and this could prove to be a favorable spot. On the flip side, Smart defending Curry is something that has the potential to impact his props if he picks up a few early fouls. I’m interested in Smart’s overs, but if Curry is attacking and the Warriors opt to limit Smart’s perimeter looks, I’ll be pivoting in short order.
— Kyle Soppe
Breaking down Game 1
Boston Celtics at Golden State Warriors
Live on ABC, 9 p.m. ET, Chase Center, San Francisco
Line: Warriors (-3.5)
Money line: Warriors (-170), Celtics (+145)
Total: 212.5 points
BPI projected total: 221.3 points
BPI win%: Celtics (59.5%)
Questionable: Gary Payton II (elbow), Otto Porter Jr. (foot), Andre Iguodala (neck)
Ruled out: None
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assume questionable players will play.
Notable: The Warriors have covered five of their past six games, an immediate correction to them dropping six of their previous seven ATS.
Best bet: Celtics to win the series (+135). In my eyes, the Celtics are the better team. Perhaps I am not giving the Warriors enough credit, but I just do not think they are as potent as we’ve seen in recent years. Boston is by far the most formidable opponent they will face this entire postseason, and I think its elite defense will expose the limited weapons surrounding Stephen Curry. Additionally, I’ve been impressed with Boston’s offensive depth and the multiple guys they have who can shoot effectively. — Doug Kezirian
Best bet: Warriors to win the series. The Warriors have more outs in this one. The Celtics will want to slow the pace and the Warriors have won their five lowest-possession games this postseason. Boston is the second-best third-quarter team and has relied on that period this postseason (2-3 when losing the third quarter, 10-3 otherwise). Meanwhile, the Warriors are the best third-quarter team in the league. Many smaller edges like that side the way of Golden State, and given that it figures to take the early series lead with plenty of rest, this is Golden State’s series to lose. — Kyle Soppe
Best bet: Warriors Game 1 ML (-170). The Warriors have a reasonable price on Thursday despite an overwhelming rest advantage. The Celtics have lost Game 1 in each of their past two series by double digits and enter the NBA Finals coming off of a pair of seven-game series and have to travel across the country. Boston is likely to take a big-picture look at things, understanding that its goal is to win one of these first two games. Golden State is 13-10 ATS in those Game 1s, but that’s not enough to entice me at face value. However, in nine of the games, the Warriors have covered, under tickets have cashed. Warriors moneyline is my play, but take them to cover with the under if you want a better payout. — Soppe
Best bet: Andrew Wiggins over 24.5 points + assists + rebounds. Wiggins was excellent in the Western Conference finals and that momentum is likely to continue against the Celtics in Game 1. Wiggins scored 27 points, had two assists and six rebounds in his most recent game against Boston on Dec. 17. — Eric Moody
Best bet: Klay Thompson under 20.5. I think Thompson will struggle in this series. Boston has an elite defense defined by length and effort. That will take Thompson out of his comfort zone. He prefers to catch and shoot, and the Celtics will force him to dribble and get off his sweet spots. Twenty-one points is a lot, so I will side with less than that. — Kezirian
Best bet: Jayson Tatum over 3.5 turnovers. Tatum played a significant role in the Celtics’ journey to the NBA Finals and he will continue to be a key player for Boston moving forward. The Warriors are no slouch on defense, either, ranking second in defensive rating. Golden State excels at forcing turnovers. — Moody
Best bet: Stephen Curry under 27.5 points, over 5.5 assists. Marcus Smart has had success defending Curry in the past, and the Warriors have an offensive rating of 85 when Smart guards Curry. Golden State will adjust based on what it sees from Boston in Game 1. Even though Curry might not have an impressive performance from a scoring standpoint, he can still position his teammates for success. He has averaged 6.2 assists per game thus far in the postseason. — Moody
Best bet: Jayson Tatum over 7.5 rebounds. Tatum projects to be a big rebounder in this series. The Warriors obviously play a lot of small ball, and even when they go big, center Kevon Looney is listed at 6-foot-9. Tatum is right around that same height with extremely long arms, and he’ll often be grabbing boards in space against the smaller Warriors players. Tatum had at least eight rebounds the past four games he’s played against the Warriors dating to the 2020-21 season. — Snellings
Best bet: Over 212.5 points. These are two of the best defenses in the NBA, but both offenses should be able to score at a reasonable pace. The Celtics’ defense is built inside out, and the Warriors’ offense is skilled from the outside in. Golden State has averaged 118.0 points per game at home, while Boston has averaged 108.6 points on the road. — Snellings