The Mavericks avoided the embarrassing Finals sweep with stifling defense from opening whistle to closing whistle. It was a performance that several expected to see in Games 1 through 3. Not only did Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving score, but the bench players also experienced their best game of the Finals. 




Of the 15 Dallas Mavericks that played in Game 4, 13 of them scored points – THIRTEEN! That is going deep into the roster, and allowing everyone to enjoy some TV time during the NBA Finals. The best part for the Mavericks was that Doncic and Irving only played 33 and 31 minutes respectively. The three starters of Daniel Gafford, PJ Washington and Derrick Jones Jr. played 41 combined minutes.

The Mavericks should be well rested for Game 5 – but so should the Boston Celtics.

NBA Picks & Predictions Today, 6/17: Celtics vs. Mavericks Game 5

Game 5 is currently tilted 6.5 points in favor of the Boston Celtics, with a total point projection of 209.5. The money line is currently -275 for the Celtics and +225 for the Mavericks. With all that said, what do we have lined up for our NBA predictions today?




Mavericks vs. Celtics Prediction: Jayson Tatum Under 27.5 Points (-120 on Bet365 Sportsbook)

‘If it isn’t broke, don't fix it’. The sportsbooks have placed Jayon Tatum on the exact same point total of Game 4, despite him only scoring 15 points. He played just 27 minutes in the blowout loss, but the Celtics operate better when Jaylen Brown, Derrick White and Jrue Holiday are the scoring force for the offense.

Tatum has an opportunity to bring home a championship to the Boston Celtics faithful at TD Garden; quite the moment. He is the most beloved current Celtic player, but he doesn’t have to be the focal point of their offense. His popularity is something Fantasy Alarm NBA Best Bets and Player Props have utilized to leverage against, and it has been highly successful.

Because of his name recognition, fame from numerous All-Star appearances and playing for the NBA’s most winning franchise, Tatum’s pointline can be inflated. It has been a constant throughout the playoffs, and although it is preferred to bet the under after a good performance, tonight presents another great opportunity for the under.

As mentioned, his point total did not go down, and as of now the sportsbooks seem content to leave it there. It is wise to exploit them for it with a unit wager. He could score much less, and he could go over. But the over seems unlikely unless the Mavericks choose to ignore him. He could also get in foul trouble early and sit out minutes. 

The prediction is the offense to go through Holiday and Brown in Game 5, and if that happens Tatum should score much less than 28 points. There should be limited second chance opportunities with Lively II playing much better defense. Tatum also has 25 assists in the 2024 Finals; he is passing the ball to the open person for a more clear field goal attempt. Our NBA predictions are betting a unit for that to happen.




Mavericks vs Celtics SGP: DAL +7.5, Lively II O8.5 R & Lively II O8.5 P (+350 on Bet365 Sportsbook) *0.5 UNIT

Today’s NBA picks are capped off with a three-fold Same Game Parlay with two player props and a straight bet. The neat part is both player props are on a single player, and a rookie at that.

Derek Lively II has been the most impressive rookie in the playoffs. The once great rivalry between the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs will be renewed with what could become the best two centers in the NBA (Victor Wembanyama the other). 

Lively II is the leading rebounder of the 2024 NBA Finals with 37 in four games, or a little over 9 per game. He has not started one game of the Finals, which makes him being the leading rebounder even more impressive. He does not just bully the bench – he plays tough second half and closing minutes against Boston’s starters as well.

The rookie has also recorded a double-double in his last two games, as LIvely II continues to be a force around the rim. Tonight, we take the over on his offered line of 8.5 on both his points and rebounds. He has obviously exceeded these totals, and without Kristaps Porzingis the Celtics will have difficulty defending him. Add each fold to the parlay.

The Dallas Mavericks’ spread has been teased up one point. The reason being the sportsbooks have been within 0.5 points on the spread in three of Boston’s last eight games. Should they be within 0.5 again, this would cover it. 

There is also a possibility that Dallas keeps their momentum rolling for a second straight game and crush the Celtics again. Avalanches can start with the smallest of cracks, and the best scorer in the league putting up 50 and carrying the Mavericks to a victory is a realistic outcome.

Another possible outcome is a last-minute victory from Boston. A come-from-behind 7-0 run, would give Boston the win, but not cover their -6.5-point spread. This game does not have a blowout feel to it with Dallas finding something that works. It could be reviewing the tape, gameplan, execution, better focus or simply being lucky. The truth is any or all of those could happen again.

Bet365 Sportsbook has a 50% boost for this match, and it should be utilized. It is capped off with a $30 max wager, but as always, one can bet again on the ticket without the boost. Regardless of your unit size, only half a unit is recommended. 




Again, if this happens to be the final game of the 2023-24 NBA season, I would like to express my gratitude for taking the time to read my NBA best bets column. I sincerely hope that you were able to achieve success and make significant gains throughout the season. I look forward to having all of you join me in the next campaign!

Make sure to visit Fantasy Alarm for additional advice on sports betting, detailed DFS analysisNFL best ball cheat sheets and the most recent sports news.

Bet Smart, Be Lucky - Iggy

*All odds accurate at time of writing and NBA bets to be placed at 1 unit unless specified otherwise