It is finally here! After what feels like an eternity, the NBA Finals have arrived! Game 1 between the Dallas Mavericks and Boston Celtics is set to begin at 8:30 PM ET. Game 1 and 2 are at TD Garden where the Celtics have been amazing all season. The Celtics have won every Game 1 of their series’, but their two playoff losses were on their home court.



As it sits, Fantasy Alarm NBA Best Bets and Player Props is +17.09 units through the playoffs, and the goal is to keep building with accurate betting predictions. It is a good time to remind everyone: treat yourself! 

If you are placing the same wagers as Fantasy Alarm, get yourself something nice! Personally, I bought some top-of-the-line Egyptian cotton sheets (which feel amazing), and now it is time for top-of-the-line-bets.

NBA Picks & Predictions, 6/6: Mavericks vs. Celtics Game 1

The truth is each team is playing the best opponent they have seen in the 2024 playoffs. That is not always the case as conference finals can oftentimes have the two best teams playing each other. This year, the hottest team in the Western Conference playoffs plays the team that has dominated the entire season.

Both teams are looking for just their second championship in 37 or more years. The storied Boston Celtics may have 17 titles but have only won 1 since 1987. Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnet and Paul Pierce stand alone in almost four decades of Boston Celtics basketball as champions. 

The Dallas Mavericks began in 1980 and are playing in their third NBA Finals. This is also their third time to win the Western Conference in less than 20 years. It is also their first trip back since 2011. Oddly enough, Jason Kidd has been involved with their last two appearances, and he is getting the most out of his players – including Dereck Lively II, who headlines our NBA predictions today.




Mavericks vs. Celtics Prediction: Dereck Lively II O7.5 R (+115 on Bet365)

It is rare for the first bet of the NBA Finals to be placed on a backup, rookie center. But that is exactly what Fantasy Alarm is doing. Dereck Lively II was an excellent draft pick for the Mavericks; their best since Jalen Brunson. Dallas as a franchise has continuously lacked a dominant center.

The front office and head coach Jason Kidd found just that in the last draft. The former Duke Blue Devil is a member of the 2024 NBA All-Rookie team, and a force for the Dallas Mavericks. In his last five playoff games in which he wasn’t injured, he has rebound totals of 8, 9, 11, 15, 10. He has eight or more rebounds in six of his last seven playoff games in which he wasn’t injured.

Now the Mavericks are playing a team which has worse centers than their previous three opponents. Ivica Zubac, Chet Holmgren and Rudy Gobert are much more of a paint force than an old Al Horford and an injured Kristaps Porzingis. Lively may be the second string center behind a strong Daniel Gafford, but it only benefits as his intensive effort and quick feet are a different style than the bruising Gafford. Sam Hauser or whoever the Celtics attempt to guard Lively with will either be slower or smaller.

This was almost a double-unit smash to start off our NBA Finals best bets, but one real damaging possibility is nerves and the moment getting to Lively II. Not that it would affect his rebounding skills, but getting in foul trouble could limit his minutes and aggressiveness in pursuing defensive rebounds. Due to this, one unit is recommended on the 2024 All Rookie to do what he does: rebound.




Mavericks vs Celtics SGP: DAL -1.5 & Doncic To Record A Triple Double (+1000 on Bet365)

I desperately wanted to include Kyrie Irving over 23.5 points at -115 for another one of my NBA predictions today, and if you want to place a wager on it, do not hesitate. However, Fantasy Alarm has had great success with one bet and one Same Game Parlay per day of NBA action. So, we stick with that method but include a bet that would likely help Irving score 24 or more points.

Nikola Jokic’s 2023 playoff performance was the most dominant run ever produced by a single player. He was the first player in NBA history to lead a playoffs in points, rebounds and assists. It somehow has gone unnoticed, but so did Scottie Pippen leading most statistical categories for the Bulls in their playoff series. 

Even fewer are aware that Luka Doncic will likely lead all major 2024 playoff statistics when the Finals conclude, regardless of who wins the series. As of now, he leads points, rebounds, assists, field goal attempts and free throw attempts. He plays over 40 minutes per game, has played the most games in the playoffs and is a mismatch for almost every team. 

This decade has been dominated by Balkan basketball players; Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, and Luka Doncic. The first two have won multiple MVPs including Finals MVPs. Doncic could be the third Balkan player to win the award in four years – the power and best basketball players have shifted.

It is not illogical to believe that Doncic, the leader in points, rebounds and assists can earn at least 10 of each tonight. The rebounds and points are almost a given, so the question becomes can his teammates make field goals on passes from Doncic. The answer is yes. Between lobs to Gafford and Lively II, passing to Kyrie or finding the open three point scorer in the corner, there should be 10 assists.

The other part of the parlay is Dallas not only winning, but winning by 2 or more points. They are currently 6.5-point underdogs, but that spread is in question. First, both teams have had a long break, which benefited Dallas more than Boston. 

Second, Boston has not played a healthy team this entire series. Third, the Celtics have been torched by good guards in the playoffs. Donovan Mitchell had the Celtics on survival mode at times, and despite being injured, Tyrese Haliburton had a much better Celtics team ‘on the ropes’.

The Celtics are outmanned in their front court, and have not seen an offensive backcourt like the Mavericks. This could be a rude realization for the Celtics coaches, players and fans. Although Boston can score, and does score often, so does Dallas. Look for Dallas to sneak out a game 1 victory and upset the simulations made by the sportsbook’s computers.




Thanks for checking out my expert NBA picks for Game 1 today! Don't forget to stop by Fantasy Alarm for more tips on sports betting, detailed DFS analysisNFL best ball cheat sheets and the latest 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