NBA Finals Best Bets: Game 1

We made it, everybody. The NBA Finals are here.

We made it through the minefield of the playoffs, and I made it through the minefield of spring allergies. We’re all winners here.

For a programming note, I’ll be putting out an article for every game of the Finals, so let’s start Game 1 with some money.

Layups: 2-Unit Plays
Two-Pointers: 1-Unit Plays
Three-Pointers: 0.75-Unit Plays
Half-Court Shot: 0.5-Unit Plays

Record: 85-72-3 (+9.93 units)
Last Week: 2-3 (+0.01 units)


Steph Curry Over 5.5 Assists (-118): Steph was on an assists tear at the end of the Mavericks series — his usage rate declined a bit, but the assists went up. He’s hit this over in his last three games and hit it in 50% of the playoff games he’s had. There’s no doubt the brunt of the Celtics’ defense will focus on containing Steph, which means he’ll have plenty of assist opportunities. Plus, he’ll get guys like Gary Payton II and Otto Porter Jr. back, which helps with depth and increases the number of people who can score. It’s Facilitator Steph night in Game 1.


Warriors -3.5 (-110): The public is on this bet, the stats back up this bet, and the narratives support this bet. So, it will likely lose. But we must go for it because, in reality, it seems like the right move. The Warriors are 4-0 ATS on more than four days rest, they’re getting healthy, and they’re playing at home. It all checks out! I’m not sure why the line hasn’t moved more in Golden State’s favor with so many people on their side, but we have to just go for it.

Steph Curry Under 27.5 Points (-105): Oh man, I hate to fade Curry’s points production in the Finals, but this just seems a bit too high against a really good defense. All you have to do is take a slightly deeper dive into his stats and you find he’s averaged 16 points a game in two games vs. the Celtics this year, while also averaging 25 points a game at home. He’d have to over-perform against a top-five defense in a game where the Warriors are getting more scoring pieces back. My love for Steph remains strong, but sometimes tough love is the answer.

Kevon Looney Under 9.5 Rebounds (-121): You know I love to fade recency bias, and this is the perfect place to do it. Looney has been hitting over this number in three of his last five games. Yet, that was against a mostly small-ball Mavs team. Now, he has to face Al Horford and Robert Williams and Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown. Catch my drift? The Celtics are a top-10 rebounding team on the road, meaning Looney will be facing a very different animal in this series, so a double-digit rebounding night in Game 1 looks less likely.


Jayson Tatum Over 3.5 Turnovers (-105): For all the good Tatum has done in the playoffs, he can be a turnover machine. He averages 4.3 turnovers a game in the postseason, and he’s on the road for his first game of his first NBA Finals against one of the best defensive teams in the league. The nerves will undoubtedly be high. The Warriors also were eighth in the league in turnovers forced this year, so I’ll bank on Tatum’s turnover number being high.