NBA Finals: Series preview and best bets for Warriors vs Celtics
Shane McNichol previews the 2022 NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics, and picks out four bets for the series.
The NBA Finals may not have the same staying power in our minds as other championships like the Super Bowl, but when you look back in time, the match-ups between marquee franchises always stand out.
The 2022 edition of the NBA Finals has a chance to become an all-time classic. The Golden State Warriors survived a speed bump of injuries amidst their dynasty to return with a revamped cast of role players around legendary shooter Stephen Curry.
The Boston Celtics, perhaps the NBA’s most iconic franchise, return to the Finals on the backs of a young, homegrown team looking to kickstart a stay among the NBA’s elite teams for the next decade.
Fans around the world are in for a treat, with bettors feasting on a wide array of bets for the series and each individual game. With the series kicking off Thursday night, here’s a look at my best bets for a highly anticipated duel between the NBA’s final two teams.
Warriors to win the series 4-2
Golden State is favored to win the series for several reasons. Steve Kerr is an experienced, championship-winning head coach facing Ime Udoka, who has been excellent this year, but is in his first season in the lead chair.
The Warriors are loaded with both veterans who have championship rings and young players hungry to join that group. The Celtics have players who have played in big moments, but none with prior experience at this level.
Lastly, Golden State has more scoring options to attack Boston’s stingy defense. The Miami Heat were ill-equipped to handle Boston’s lockdown defense, especially with Tyler Herro sidelined. Steve Kerr has more weapons in his arsenal and more answers when things get tight.
Golden State is the favorite in the series and 6 games is favorite if you’re betting total number of games. I like combining the two for this prop and getting better than 4-1 odds on the most likely scenario.
Jordan Poole to win MVP
Betting on the NBA Finals MVP requires a few things to go your way. You need to diagnose which team will win the series before sorting out which player on that team has the most value as a potential MVP. Of course if Golden State wins the series, Stephen Curry is the most likely player to earn the award, but he’s being offered as the odds-on favorite at -112.
Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are bigger names, but not quite worth a wager at their odds, with both listed at +1400.
Jordan Poole, however, has some value further down the board. The young Warriors playmaker is in his first NBA Finals, in his first trip to the NBA Playoffs. Across Golden State’s three series this postseason, Poole is averaging 18.4 points, 4.5 assists, and 3.2 rebounds per game.
Those numbers are a far cry from what Curry has posted, though he’s likely to be draped by reining NBA Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart for the entire series.
If Poole can have a few games where he pops as Golden State’s X-factor and leading scorer, it’s not unfathomable to foresee him receiving some MVP buzz. At odds this long, that’s enough of an indicator to take flyer on him.
Jordan Poole to lead the series in scoring
Here’s the problem: MVP is an award based in narratives and voted on by the media. If you don’t trust the voters to think outside the box, why not take a real roll of the dice on Poole as the top scorer in the series.
It’s unlikely, but that’s the risk you take for such a big payout.
Poole topped 25 points three times in the playoffs already and had ten 30-point games in the regular season. If he gets red hot from long range, he’s capable of posting big numbers in the box score.
Jaylen Brown to win MVP
If Boston is able to prevail in the series, Jayson Tatum is the heavy favorite to collect the MVP. He’s listed at just +175 to win MVP right now, with the Celtics odds to win the series nearly identical at +175. Maybe that small drop of extra juice is enticing if you like Boston to win four of seven games, though I wouldn’t hassle with it.
Instead, I’d look to Brown who has the third best odds after Curry and Tatum, yet is paying out starkly higher than those two favorites. Brown has scored more than 20 points per game in all three of the Celtics’ series so far, peaking with 24.1 points and 7.1 rebounds per game in the Eastern Conference Finals.
With Tatum drawing the focus of Steve Kerr’s defensive gameplan, Brown has a chance to be a hero for Boston, making him worth a look here.