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Boston Celtics at Miami Heat Game 1 Betting Preview

The Golden State Warriors return to a familiar place, back in the NBA Finals, after missing the playoffs in each of the last two seasons. Golden State had a run of five straight Finals appearances from 2015-19, taking home three Larry O’Brien trophies over that span.

The Boston Celtics, as a franchise, have some experience on this biggest stage, winning 17 NBA Championships in their storied history. Boston hasn’t been to the Finals since 2010, however, and Golden State has a huge experience advantage in this series. The Warriors are a -3.5 favorite Thursday night in San Francisco.

Celtics Face a Different Challenge

Boston has had some time off after wrapping up the Eastern Conference Finals against Miami on Sunday. That’s some excellent downtime to help Marcus Smart and Robert Williams heal their nagging injuries, but it also gives the Celtics time to develop a new defensive strategy.

The Celtics have played two straight grueling seven-game series with the Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo (33.9 ppg in semifinals) and Miami’s Jimmy Butler (25.6 ppg in finals) not getting a ton of help from their teammates. Sure Golden State has Steph Curry, but also a whole lot more depth.

One thing Boston has done this postseason is win on the road. They took two in Milwaukee and three in Miami, where the Heat had previously been undefeated this postseason. The Warriors are 9-0 at the Chase Center during the 2022 playoffs.

Too Much Down Time?

There’s hardly ever a negative connotation behind winning an NBA playoff series, and the only thing Golden State has to worry about here is if they finished off the Mavericks too early in the Western Conference Finals? The Warriors will have had a week off since last Thursday’s 120-110 win.

Steve Kerr will take the downtime even if his team does come out a bit rusty because it’s allowed Andre Iguodala (neck), Gary Payton II (elbow), and Otto Porter, Jr. (foot) to possibly get back in the lineup.

You want as many bodies as possible on both ends of the court to match up with Boston’s #1 unit in defensive efficiency and to try to stop Jayson Tatum, who is averaging 27.0 ppg this postseason.

Tatum is red hot these playoffs, but of course, Golden State has some offensive talent of their own. Curry is averaging 25.9 ppg, Klay Thompson 19.8, Jordan Poole 18.4, while Andrew Wiggins (15.8) has had some big outings like going for 27 in the Game 3 win in Dallas.

Celtics/Warriors Betting Prediction

The Celtics have greatly benefited from having the last three days off, which has helped them adjust to the cross-country flight. Will it be enough to match the experience and the home-court advantage of Golden State, though?

The -3.5 line seems low for the Warriors, whose core has been to the Finals in three of the last five years.

Boston might steal one on the road this series, but Game 1 is for adjusting to the situation.

Betting Pick: Warriors -3.5

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