The 2022 NBA Finals tip-off tonight with the Warriors (-3.5, -174) hosting the Celtics (+3.5, +145) inside the Chase Center. The Warriors are in search of their fourth ring in eight years, while the Celtics attempt to win the NBA Finals for the first time since 2008.
If you’re wanting to get action down on either tonight’s game or the series as a whole, we break down how to best approach betting on the Finals against the spread.
Look back at their two-regular season matchups
While there are only two data points to look at, it’s noteworthy to see how the Warriors and Celtics fared in their head-to-head matchups during the regular season. It may be a surprise to some, but Boston outperformed the betting markets in both games, sporting a 2-0 ATS record despite splitting the regular-season series.
In the first meeting back on Dec. 17 of last year, the Warriors defeated the Celtics 111-107 but failed to cover the spread as 4.5-point road favorites. At that time, Boston wasn’t nearly as respected as they currently are in the betting markets, entering that game with a 14-14 overall record. The Warriors, on the other hand, were cruising, entering the first meeting with a 20-5 overall record.
Of course, it’s important to note that game didn’t feature Klay Thompson (injured) or Derrick White (not yet on the Celtics), nor did it include Grant Williams or Al Horford. In fact, Romeo Langford started for the Celtics, and Josh Richardson (35) and Enes Freedom (11) also logged key minutes. Aaron Nesmith (23 minutes) and Nemanja Bjelica (16), both of whom have fallen out of their teams’ respective playoff rotations, also had impacts on that game, so it’s tough to really take a lot from it.
In their most recent meeting on March 16, Boston dominated the Warriors from tip to finish, leaving the Chase Center with a 110-88 victory. Boston closed as short +1.5 road underdogs and covered the spread in sweat-less fashion. Stephen Curry logged just 14 minutes, as this was the game he sustained a left foot sprain late that sidelined him for the last 12 regular-season games.
The regular-season is vastly different than the playoffs, but one key takeaway certainly was the Celtics’ competitiveness in both contests.
Don’t overreact to Game 1
The NBA Finals is a best-of-seven series for a reason, and the true champion will either win the war of attrition or assert itself over the duration of the series. Betting markets will sometimes overreact to a single result, and if you’re keen to how the market changes from Game 1 to Game 2, value can be found.
The Celtics have fallen down 0-1 in their past two series, utilizing the first game as a feeling-out process. If they were to struggle in Game 1 tonight, which would likely cause an overdramatic shift in the Game 2 spread, a wager on the Celtics with the points could be a positive expected-value bet.
Three-point shooting variance is also always a deciding factor in the outcome of a single NBA game. Just because one team may finish with an inefficient output from deep doesn’t mean it will continue for the duration of the series. That’s especially true in a series like this between two solid defenses and two three-point juggernauts.
There’s more than enough data with each team playing close to 100 games to decipher that Golden State should be around a one-to-two basket favorite at home against the Celtics. Barring an injury, don’t let the outcome of one game blur your vision and impact your betting approach. The teams will adjust, and you should, too.
Take advantage of new user promotions
If you’re located in a state where betting is legal, every legalized sportsbook has advantageous sign-up offers. A quick search can aggregate all the legal sportsbooks located in your state with their corresponding sign-up offers. Bettors can significantly pad their bankroll by utilizing the numerous new user promotions sportsbooks offer.
Manage your risk
This is Gambling 101 advice, but only risk what you can afford to lose, and understand a lot of variables can impact the outcome of one game. Just because it’s the Finals doesn’t mean you should start betting more units than usual. If anything, be more conservative early unless you see a really sharp angle.
Additionally, betting markets are super sharp this late in the season. Plain and simple, “locks” and “sure things” don’t exist. Both the Warriors and the Celtics have gotten to the Finals for a reason, they’re great basketball teams from two well-run organizations.
A lot of noise exists in today’s sports betting landscape, making it hard to decipher what’s worthwhile advice and what’s not. Hopefully, you’re able to manage your risk and make it out of the Finals in the green. If not, try to objectively look back on where you went wrong and make note of ways to better your process moving forward.