How To Bet The NBA’s Final Four Teams

How To Bet The NBA’s Final Four Teams article feature image

What a weird NBA Conference Finals.

Boston: The obvious one, having breezed through the regular season and two rounds. The only weird part is how unchallenged they've been and how absolutely everything has fallen into place for the Celtics.

Indiana: The Pacers?! I mean, they were fun as all get out this year, but a conference finals run? The Pacers' biggest concern has to be taking this run too seriously.

Minnesota: For the first time in 20 years, the Wolves are in the conference finals, and they got there by beating the defending champs in their gym in a Game 7. Hang on, checking the temperature in hell real quick.

Dallas: Of course the Mavericks are in the conference finals after missing the playoffs last year behind a dominant defense. Sure.

But it should be fun, and the uncertainty about how to evaluate these teams creates some opportunities. Let's get into it.

How To Bet The Timberwolves


Wolves to be 2-1 after three games (+120)

Game 1 is far from a smash spot for Minnesota. Teams off a Game 7 as home favorites are just 10-11 straight up. In the conference finals, those teams are only 2-5. There's a decent chance the Wolves get caught off the emotional letdown from beating Denver in Game 7.

But the Wolves are the better team and have proven consistently they can win on the road in these playoffs, including twice in Phoenix and three times in Denver.

If Dallas catches them in Game 1, the Wolves bounce back in Game 2 and then regain control in Game 3. If they win Game 1, Dallas will likely get one of the next two, but not both.


Karl-Anthony Towns to lead the series in scoring (+1600)

It's a longshot so play it appropriately. The thinking is: if the Mavericks take a page out of the Nuggets' book and throw multiple defenders at Anthony Edwards at all times and Luka Doncic struggles again with his injury, Towns stands to benefit the most. He's too big for the Mavericks' forwards and can space out their centers. There are no good matchups for him. Doncic likely outscores him but this isn't bad value if you believe the Wolves can find a way to slow down Doncic.


The Mavericks are such a different challenge from the Nuggets. They're not as good but they're different. The Nuggets ran their offense through their center obviously, while everything is perimeter driven by the Mavericks. Dallas' defense has been wildly successful through a combination of great at-rim contests and the ability to dare the right shooters.

Jaden McDaniels is 6-9, 185 but Luka Doncic is much stronger. Nickeil Alexander-Walker is too small. Karl-Anthony Towns is too slow and foul prone.

But the Wolves know how to contain using all five defenders. Rudy Gobert will play a high drop and Towns will play at the level of the screen. Where Oklahoma City dared P.J. Washington to beat them and lost that gambit, but the Wolves' weakside matchup zone is much better; that's how they contained Michael Porter Jr. so well.

I don't love the matchup, but the Wolves are a much tougher, much smarter, much more physical team than Oklahoma City.

How To Bet The Mavericks


+142 To Win The Series

So the Mavericks are live to win Game 1; as stated above, teams off a Game 7 as home favorites are 10-11 straight up and 2-5 in the conference finals. Teams off a Game 7 when the opponent is not are 4-16 overall in the conference finals Game 1.

Well if the Mavericks win Game 1, they're in a good spot historically; teams who win Game 1 are 29-12 (71%) in the conference finals.

Minnesota just beat the defending champs who they had measured themselves against all year. But the Wolves were jubilant, ecstatic after their win over Denver. Karl-Anthony Towns was asked about the conference finals and say they were all so happy in the moment they just wanted to stay there. That's not good with Luka and Kyrie coming to town in three days' time.

Doncic had a miserable time last series but started to look healthier and more productive by the end of it. Jason Kidd has outcoached Ty Lue and Mark Daigneault so far; this is the best coaching run of. his career. Typically I would give Chris Finch a huge edge here but Kidd has pushed the right buttons.

The Mavericks don't have to go small when Naz Reid comes in. They'll stay big with Lively or Gafford. Anthony Edwards will still have Derrick Jones Jr. defending. And PJ Washington could very well could continue his irrationally hot shooting.

Dallas can win this and the series price is heavy.


Luka Doncic leading scorer (-115)

Keep it simple. He had a rough series in the first two rounds, and is still averaging just a point less than Edwards. Keep it simple here. He shot 27-of-42 (64%) in the two games he played vs. Minnesota this season against the four players who defended him most (McDaniels, Kyle Anderson, NAW, and Edwards).

This defense is great, historic even. But no one can stop a healthy Luka.

How To Bet The Celtics


Celtics (-1.5) | Game Spread (-340)

Yes, I'm advocating for a -340. No, I do not feel good about it. This is Brandon Anderson's best bet on Buckets, so you can listen to the case there.

Here's the problem.

The Celtics are going to screw around and give one game away. They do it in every series. They lost two to Atlanta last year, three to the Sixers, and four to the Heat. Then they lost one to both the Heat without Jimmy Butler and one to the Cavaliers who by the end of the series were missing three starters.

So the question becomes whether or not the Pacers can steal 0, 1, or 2 more games beyond that based on their own talent. The Celtics are better, but they are without Kristaps Porzingis and are subject to shot variance swings. You do not want to be in a shot variance game with the Indiana Pacers who have the No.1 offense in the playoffs.

What if the Pacers catch the same injury luck the other Celtics opponents have had?

What if the Pacers just have a game like Game 7 vs. the Knicks where they shoot the ever-loving lights out?

What if the defensive uptick catches the Pacers completely flat-footed? What if the offensive step-up in competition leaves the Celtics caught off guard?

Most series I can say "they're not going to get swept" or "they will win at least two." I have no idea with this series. But winning three is a lot. I'm willing to lay the -340 on Celtics in less than 7.


Jayson Tatum Most 3's (+550)

Tatum averaged the most 3-point attempts and makes of any Celtic vs. the Pacers in the regular season, and shot 48% on them. He's extremely comfortable vs. this team's defense. Pascal Siakam will help but he won't guard Tatum full time factoring in switches in pick and roll. Tatum actually sharpens his shot profile vs. the Pacers.

How To Bet The Pacers


Pacers (+2.5) | Series Win Spread (+118)

If you want to bet on them, that means you believe in them to a degree. And if you believe in them to a degree, you believe they can win one game of their own volition. Then you throw in at least one Celtics game where they screw around and get caught by shot variance.

There are three ways the Pacers can win game in this series: Boston screws around, the Pacers catch them with shot variance, and the Pacers legit play better. The problem is you don't know if two of those will happen in the same game. Maybe the same game Boston screws around is when the Pacers play their best. Or when the Celtics can't make threes, the Pacers also do. So just grab the +2.5 here for a smaller price. You can get aggressive if you want but I just can't see Indiana beating Boston, and I could definitely see them winning the last two series.


Player To Record Most 3's In A Game: Aaron Nesmith (+1800)

Revenge game! Nesmith took the same number of threes overall that Haliburton did in the matchups this season. Haliburton's rate is higher but he will also be guarded by Jrue Holiday and Derrick White. Nesmith will get them up vs. his former team.


Boston's better, Boston's rested. I love Boston in Game 1 based on how bad teams are off of Game 7 series as road dogs (11-27 SU, 17-21 ATS). Teams that win Game 1 go on to win the series 78% of the time when they start at home in the conference finals.

I don't trust the Celtics to close them out quickly and think the Pacers are a little better than the market suggests. I'll be looking for Pacers game-to-game spots in this series but don't want to bet much of anything pre-flop.

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Jul 12, 2024 UTC