Odds favor Celtics in Game 1 of NBA finals

SunStar Basketball
SunStar Basketball

LAS VEGAS — The Celtics are prohibitive favorites to win Thursday’s Game 1 of the NBA Finals and odds are on Boston to hoist what would be its record 18th championship banner.

But the money, at least at BetMGM Sportsbook, is pouring in on the Dallas Mavericks.

Senior trader Halvor Egeland said Monday that 80% of the bets were coming on Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving and the Mavs to win their second NBA title. Boston is a -225 favorite to win it all, meaning someone would need to wager $225 to win $100.

As for the series opener, the Celtics are 6 1/2-point favorites, but 63% of the money has been on the Mavericks to cover the spread. Dallas is receiving 70% of the bets to win the game outright at +200.

“Pretty much, the public is just believing in the Mavericks,” Egeland said.

Despite that, the Celtics’ odds have remained consistently solid not only at BetMGM but other sportsbooks as well. Even though Egeland said professional bettors are largely sitting out this series because they don’t find much betting value, he said he didn’t expect the lines to be significantly affected.

“We feel it’s the correct betting line,” Egeland said. “If we were trading strictly off money, we would’ve moved it towards the Mavericks because it’s all Mavericks money. But we’re trying to get to a point where we’re at like an equilibrium — half the time (betting is) going to be on one side, half the time it’s going to go on the other. We’ve landed at 6 1/2 and that’s the strategy you take.”

THE PORZINGIS FACTOR

Part of the reason for the opening-game spread, Egeland said, is the expected return of Boston’s Kristaps Porzingis. He hasn’t played since straining his left calf in Game 4 of the opening round against the Miami Heat.

Porzingis not only would give the Celtics size if he is back, but the 7-footer is an effective 3-point shooter, creating a difficult matchup for the Mavs. He averaged 20.1 points and 7.2 rebounds during the regular season.

Egeland said if the Celtics have to sit Porzingis yet again, they likely would drop to 4 1/2- or 5-point favorites.

“The team’s been pretty good without him,” DraftKings sportsbook operations director Johnny Avello said. “So with him, it makes them even that much better. Will he be able to get back into the mix kind of quickly? I think so. This series could be a seven-game series, so any bodies you can get in there and contribute, they are welcome for both sides.” / AP

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