NBA

NBA Finals Game 1 Betting Guide: Will the Celtics or Warriors Offer the Opening Salvo?

Our model is split from a majority of bettors on FanDuel Sportsbook. Which side will win out?

The 2022 NBA Finals are finally here, and this stylistic matchup should be a treat. The gritty, defense-first Boston Celtics survived a gauntlet of a schedule to earn their first bid since 2010, but the flashy, sharpshooting Golden State Warriors return for their sixth appearance in the last eight years. Who starts the series fast?

Betting on the NBA can be tricky, but you can rely on numberFire to help. We have a detailed betting algorithm that projects out games to see how often certain betting lines hit. You can also track spread bet percentages at FanDuel Sportsbook.

Where do our algorithm, our power rankings, and the betting trends identify value in tonight's games? All odds are from FanDuel Sportsbook, and all ratings are out of five stars.

Celtics +4 (-112) - 1 Star

You won't find a single analytics-oriented piece that doesn't back the Celtics.

FiveThirtyEight has Boston 80% likely to defeat Golden State in this series. ESPN's Basketball Power Index pegs them at 85.9%. Yet, at a rest disadvantage, without homecourt advantage, and lacking the same NBA Finals pedigree as the challengers from San Francisco, they're +130 to win this series overall.

I love the Celtics in this spot, as well, but numberFire's model might be the fairest of all. It has Boston as a 53.5% favorite to win this series, but it does believe Golden State wins Game 1 tonight a majority of the time (56.4%).

The spread is a different story, though. It believes Boston covers a four-point spread 55.2% of the time. Against 52.8% implied odds, it rates Boston as a one-star wager tonight.

Game 1 winners win an NBA playoff series 75.6% of the time, so you shouldn't be split from your potential series future bet tonight. Since I'm on the Celtics, it's easy to back them in this spot. It's also easy to fade 70% of spread bets on the Warriors to cover four points at home.

Under 213.5 (-110) - 2 Stars

Those four points could be incredibly valuable when numberFire's model has a good deal of conviction in a low-scoring affair.

The total is pegged at 213.5, but most books are seeing about 65% of the action on the over. It's not a giant shocker for tonight's marquee affair that the public wants to bet the over. They might be sorely mistaken, though.

Our model believes this one stays south of 214 total points a whopping 61.6% of the time. Compared to the standard 52.5% implied odds of a -110 bet, it gets a two-star thumbs up in Game 1.

Given that the model aggregates similar game profiles from recent years, it's likely leaning on recent history when two top defensive rating squads square off. Of the 20 most similarly-profiled games in numberFire's database, 13 fell short of this projected total.

With Boston holding the best defensive rating in the playoffs thus far (105.2), it correlates well that they'd cover the spread -- or win outright -- in a lower-scoring contest.

Swaim-Game Parlay (+527)

Celtics +4
Jaylen Brown 20+ Points Scored
Robert Williams 6+ Rebounds Recorded
Klay Thompson 2+ Three-Pointers Made
Draymond Green 1+ Blocks Recorded

Just one game a day means it's Same-Game Parlay season now more than ever on FanDuel Sportsbook. For some fun, I drop 0.25 units a day on one to see if it hits. Feel free to tail mine...or create your own!

As noted above, with such a strong lean towards Boston in this series, I expect them to come out of the gates fast. They may not win tonight, but I believe the model is dead on that Boston covers Celtics +4 (-112) more often than they don't.

There's some great value on player props today. Jaylen Brown is projected for 25.1 points by numberFire's model, and he's eclipsed the 20-point threshold in 11 of his last 13 games. It feels like a given that, if Boston puts together a solid effort, Jaylen Brown 20+ Points Scored (-400) cashes with ease.

As noted in my series betting guide, Golden State's increased usage of Kevon Looney could mean more Robert Williams in this series versus the Miami one. If Williams is on the court, he's a rebounding menace. Even in this playoff run mired by injuries, he's averaging 9.2 rebounds per 36 minutes. With at least 25 minutes in this contest, it's simple to feel good about Robert Williams 6+ Rebounds Recorded (-176).

Golden State's got some fine additions as well. After all, the model believes they win this game even predicting Boston to cover. Therefore, I want to buy into Klay Thompson's huge projected three-point total in this one. numberFire's model posts him at 3.9 triples in Game 1. I'll play it safe and turn to Klay Thompson 2+ Three-Pointers Made (-1100) against what is a strong defense.

Finally, Draymond Green has a block in 13 of Golden State's 16 playoff games (81.3%), so the take-me-home piece on today's lay is Draymond Green 1+ Blocks Recorded (-215) at a fair price.