Dallas Mavericks vs Boston Celtics Prediction & Preview - June 6 | Game 1, 2024 NBA Finals

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Boston Celtics
Dallas Mavericks vs Boston Celtics Prediction & Preview - June 6 | Game 1, 2024 NBA Finals

Game 1 of the 2024 NBA Finals between the Dallas Mavericks and Boston Celtics tips off Thursday. Given the star power on both sides and each team's dominant conference finals showing, the series projects to be a competitive, back-and-forth affair.

The fifth-seeded Mavericks (50-32), spearheaded by superstar guards Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, are seeking their first NBA title since 2011. They are coming off a decisive 4-1 Western Conference finals series victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, the league's No. 1 defensive team. Meanwhile, they have a 12-5 record through three postseason rounds.

On the flip side, the league-best Celtics (64-18), led by superstars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, are aiming for their first championship since 2008. They have made at least the Eastern Conference finals in six of eight seasons. Meanwhile, this year marks their second finals appearance in three years.

The Celtics have faced little playoff resistance thus far, with their previous three opponents dealing with major injuries. That includes during their 4-0 East finals series sweep of the Indiana Pacers, with star point guard Tyrese Haliburton suffering a Game 2 hamstring injury.

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Boston boasts a 12-2 postseason record through three rounds. However, it hasn't faced a team with Dallas' offensive firepower, so the finals should mark its first legitimate challenge.

Dallas Mavericks vs Boston Celtics: Preview, starting lineups, betting tips and prediction

Game 1 of the Mavericks and Celtics' finals series tips off Thursday at 8:30 p.m. ET at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The contest airs nationally on ABC.

Moneyline: Mavericks (+200) vs Celtics (-245)

Spread: Mavericks (+6.5) vs Celtics (-6.5)

Total (Over/Under): Mavericks (o215.0) vs Celtics (u215.0)

Editor's note: The odds could change closer to tip-off, as the odds listed were based on available information at the time of writing.

Dallas Mavericks vs Boston Celtics: Preview

The Celtics have been the prohibitive title favorite all season, with arguably the NBA's most well-rounded lineup. They rank second in offensive rating (119.6) and third in defensive rating (108.7) through 14 playoff contests.

Boston has seemingly been on cruise control despite starting center Kristaps Porzingis only appearing in four games thus far. Porzingis has been sidelined since Game 4 of the Celtics' five-game Round 1 series win against the Miami Heat due to a calf strain.

However, he is expected to return in Game 1 against Dallas, giving Boston a rim protection and frontcourt floor spacing boost. Its elite defense will look to slow down Doncic and Irving, who are averaging a combined 51.6 points per game through 17 playoff games.

Doncic and Irving's one-two offensive punch has been arguably the postseason's biggest storyline, with many proclaiming them the NBA's greatest offensive backcourt ever. Their elite production, combined with standout two-way play from several role players like P.J. Washington, Derrick Jones Jr. and Dereck Lively II, has helped the Mavericks defy expectations.

Dallas ranks sixth in offensive rating (115.2) and seventh in defensive rating (111.1) through 17 postseason contests, trailing Boston in both categories. However, the Mavericks have faced far steeper competition than the Celtics thus far.

As for Boston's stars, Tatum and Brown aren't far behind Doncic and Irving, averaging 51.0 ppg through 14 playoff appearances. Meanwhile, it has had a more reliable tertiary scoring option in guard Derrick White (17.8 ppg).

The Celtics also have the defensive personnel to potentially make Irving and Doncic's life difficult. Their big wings can provide resistance to Doncic, while veteran defensive guard Jrue Holiday will likely be tasked with slowing down Irving.

Boston swept its regular-season series against Dallas 2-0. However, one of those games came before the Mavericks revamped their roster at the trade deadline. Additionally, the Celtics got hot from 3-point range in their second matchup on March 1. They shot a blistering 21-for-43 (48.8%) en route to a 138-110 blowout home victory.

The stakes are much higher this time around, though. So, Dallas will likely be locked in on Thursday, as it has been for most of the playoffs.

Dallas Mavericks vs Boston Celtics: Starting lineups, subs and rotations

Both Dallas and Boston project to be at relatively full strength in Game 1.

Doncic is the only key player listed on the Mavericks' injury report. However, he is considered probable to play due to a right knee sprain and left ankle soreness.

Dallas' projected Game 1 starting lineup is as follows:

PG: Luka Doncic SG: Kyrie Irving SF: Derrick Jones Jr. PF: P.J. Washington C: Daniel Gafford

Meanwhile, Lively, Maxi Kleber, Josh Green and Jaden Hardy should be the Mavericks' primary bench contributors.

As for the Celtics, their injury report is currently empty, with their projected Game 1 starting lineup as follows:

PG: Jrue Holiday SG: Derrick White SF: Jaylen Brown PF: Jayson Tatum C: Kristaps Porzingis

With Porzingis back, veteran big man Al Horford will likely return to the bench alongside key playoff reserves Payton Pritchard and Sam Hauser.

Dallas Mavericks vs Boston Celtics: Betting tips

Doncic has a 31.5 over/under Game 1 point prop. The five-time All-Star has scored 32 or more points in four of his last five playoff appearances. Meanwhile, he averaged 35.0 ppg over two regular-season games against Boston. So, it makes sense to take the over.

Meanwhile, Tatum has a 27.5 over/under Game 1 point prop. The five-time All-Star has scored 28-plus points in four of his last seven postseason contests. He also averaged 35.5 ppg over two regular-season outings against Dallas. So, Tatum also appears more likely to hit the over.

Dallas Mavericks vs Boston Celtics: Prediction

Given their season-long two-way dominance, the Celtics should secure a Game 1 home victory and further establish themselves as championship favorites. While Doncic and Co. could play spoilers, they appear more likely to do so in Game 2 after making adjustments.

However, Thursday's showdown should be close, with both teams likely fired up after an extended break. So, Boston may not cover the spread (-6.5).

Given the Mavericks and Celtics' offensive firepower, they should also surpass their over/under point total of 215.0, as they did in both their regular-season matchups.

Also Read: Dallas Mavericks vs Boston Celtics Top 10 Player props markets available for 2024 NBA Finals Game 1 (June 6)

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Edited by Tristan Rawcliffe
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