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NBA betting: How to play Game 1 of East, West finals

·Betting analyst
·3 min read
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The NBA season has ended for all but four teams. The final three best-of-seven series provide bettors a sad reminder that, at best, there are only 21 games remaining to wager on. The Eastern Conference finals get started tonight when the Miami Heat host the Boston Celtics as -1.5 point favorites.

This late in the season, we don't have much choice in which games we bet, but we do have plenty of options on how we are betting them. I detailed my initial thoughts on how we can approach each series yesterday, and today we put our money to work. Here are some bets I already placed for each Game 1, along with some insight on how they could present some live betting opportunities as well.

Boston Celtics at Miami Heat (-1.5)

I have a feeling we are going to look back at the Boston-Milwaukee series and realize that was the best chance to get the Celtics out of the playoff field. The Celtics are so tough defensively, and their depth with their bigs will give Miami a real challenge. Boston is the more physical team and should grind the Heat down as we get deeper in the series. With that being said, Game 1 couldn't line up any more perfectly for the home team.

Miami catches Boston coming off a seven-game war that forced them to fight off last year's NBA finals MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo. Meanwhile, Miami very comfortably wrapped up its series with Philadelphia last Thursday in a game where the Sixers provided very little resistance. Miami is 5-1 ATS on their homecourt this postseason and covered 64% of games in the regular season when it had the rest advantage. I bet the Heat on the short number, and plan to play back on the Celtics to win the series after they drop Game 1.

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) drives the ball as Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) defends under the basket during a game on Nov. 4, 2021. (Al Diaz/Getty Images)
Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) drives the ball as Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) defends under the basket during a game on Nov. 4, 2021. (Al Diaz/Getty Images)

Dallas Mavericks (+130) — First quarter moneyline

Here are two things I learned this postseason. Steph Curry is the type of player who will give you a big lead before relentlessly coming back to win the game. Luka Doncic is the type of the player that gives you a full game, and still wins the series. Doncic's Mavericks have dropped the opener in both previous rounds, and it's a big ask to reverse that trend in Golden State against a rested Warriors team.

However, there is still money to be made on the Mavericks. One of the maddening traits of the Warriors this postseason is their sluggish starts, driven by Steph Curry's reluctance to assert himself early in games. I am willing to bet the Mavericks come into Wednesday night's game looking to make a statement early and prove they belong in this series.

Dallas was the third-most profitable team to the first-quarter spread this season (54-39-2), while Golden St. ranked third-worst. The Warriors' rope-a-dope routine was on display for their fans against the Memphis Grizzlies, where they were outscored in the opening quarter in two of the three home games.

The Dallas moneyline at +130 for the first quarter provides decent value considering their opponent has failed to cover this bet in four of six home postseason games. If both of these teams follow their recent behavior, we will have the option of following up on a good live betting opportunity with the favorite. An early Mavericks lead will allow us to cash this wager, and open the door to bet on Golden State live at a more advantageous full-game price.

Stats provided by nba.com, teamrankings.com, and evanalytics.com