Mavs vs Celtics Game 2 Picks, Prediction, Odds for NBA Finals | NBA Picks Sunday

Mavs vs Celtics Game 2 Picks, Prediction, Odds for NBA Finals | NBA Picks Sunday article feature image

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Pictured: Jayson Tatum (left) and Kyrie Irving (right).

  • Despite injury news around Luka Doncic, the Game 2 Mavs vs Celtics odds have barely moved from Celtics -7 to Celtics -6.5.
  • The total for NBA Finals Game 2 is 215 after opening at 214.5.
  • Given some of the uncertainty, our NBA betting expert's picks for Sunday feature a handful of NBA player props in Mavs vs Celtics.

Mavericks vs Celtics Game 2 Picks

Sunday, Jun 9
8:00pm ET
Mavericks Odds
-110o / -110u
Celtics Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

We are just hours away from Game 2 of the 2024 NBA Finals, and Luka Doncic is the topic of the moment. The Dallas Mavericks star was listed as questionable shortly before Sunday's game against the Boston Celtics, but all indications are that Luka will play despite dealing with back issues. The latest Mavs vs Celtics odds have Boston as a 6.5-point favorite, movement of just a half-point from the opening line of Celtics -7. The total is currently 215 after opening at 214.5.

Below, you'll find my Mavs vs Celtics picks and prediction, plus my best bets for your NBA picks tonight. But if you want even more best bets — and we have a ton of them! — make sure to also check out NBA Finals Best Bets | Mavericks vs Celtics Game 2 Picks (Sunday, June 9).

The Celtics started off the NBA Finals with a massive win over the Dallas Mavericks, 107-89. Boston easily covered the -6.5 closing line and Game 1 sailed under the 217.5 total, but it was only until the final two frames that the game slowed so drastically. Dallas looked stuck in the mud offensively in Game 1, but a lot of that was a result of Boston’s defensive game plan. The Celtics avoided blitzing, as they have all season, changing schemes, switching and sprinkling in drop coverage. A big problem for the Mavericks came from their struggles to hit shots when Boston switched and an inability to take advantage of the drop coverage with shooting.

Kyrie Irving in particular struggled from the field, thanks to Jrue Holiday’s tough defense. Holiday’s ability to fight over screens, lock in on Irving and take away space for him to operate was a big part of the Celtics' success defensively. The brilliance of Holiday’s defensive performance wasn’t just the lack of scoring from Irving — who was 6-for-19 from the field and 0-for-5 from 3 — it was the ability to take away the other aspects of Irving's game that make him effective when his shot isn’t falling. Irving had just two assists and zero free-throw attempts. The Mavs will look to get him more involved in Game 2, but I struggle to see this being a high-scoring series for him regardless of the Dallas mix-ups.

The Celtics also did a great job of taking away the corner 3 — another staple of their defensive schematics all season. The Mavs got off just four corner 3s in Game 1, and that’s something they will likely try to remedy for Game 2. But they’ll need to get more 3-point looks of all kinds if they want to compete with Boston’s high-powered offense.

The Mavs' 27 3-point attempts in Game 1 is tied for their second-lowest of the season, including the postseason. P.J. Washington could be the benefactor of any changes made by Dallas, and his 3s line is a bit low for Game 2.

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The big storyline heading into Game 1 was the health status of Kristaps Porziņģis, who missed the previous two rounds with a calf strain. The Latvian big man’s unique ability to stretch the floor and protect the rim is a big part of why I liked Boston coming into this series, and that certainly hasn’t changed after seeing what happened in Game 1. I imagine the biggest adjustment coming into Game 2 will be a way to mitigate Porziņģis’ effectiveness, though it will be tough. His skillset is exactly what unlocks this Celtics offense and sends it from elite to god-mode. His 3-point line is a touch low at 1.5 despite the juice.

Jayson Tatum is another key factor in this series, but not necessarily for his scoring. The Celtics have plenty of ways they can score without the need for Tatum to drop 25 points a night. His size and ability to crash the boards makes him the most important Celtic, despite what Jason Kidd says about Jaylen Brown being Boston's best player.

The Celtics' offense is most potent when Tatum is a willing passer and playmaker, distributing to any of their four other shooters on the floor. And throughout the playoffs, Tatum’s playmaking has elevated. He’s brought his assists average from 4.9 in the regular season to 5.9 in the playoffs on +1.2 potential assists. The Celtics' offense is truly at its best when Tatum is dishing. Since the 2022 playoffs, the Celtics are 32-11 when Tatum has five or more assists and just 6-10 when he has four or fewer, according to StatMuse.

Mavericks vs. Celtics Pick, Best Bets

NBA Picks & Prediction

I’m staying away from a side or total in Game 2, so I'll turn it over to my prestigious colleague Maltman for his thoughts on taking the Mavs moneyline — and an alt Mavs spread — before running through the props I'll be betting:

Maltman: As a Luka Dončić MVP backer, Game 1 of the Finals was not great. The Mavericks seemed lost on defense, having no answer for Porziņģis and frequently leaving shooters open without walling off the paint. They essentially did nothing they wanted to do; they couldn't prevent them from getting quality looks from 3s, and then they went away from their centers and had little rim protection. It was even worse on the offensive end, where they got no assists, couldn't hit a 3 and passed up open opportunities.

In case this sounds familiar, this is exactly how Game 1 for Boston went against Miami and Cleveland. For the Mavs, they lost Game 1 of both the Clippers and Thunder series on the road with horrific offensive performances and a defense that took almost nothing away. In all four of these cases, when Game 2 came around, Boston lost and Dallas won.

It may not seem like it, but there is a lot for the Mavs to clean up. Dereck Lively II had five fouls and started to play timid; he hasn't had five fouls in three months. Dončić held the ball for too long, turned it over in ways I haven't seen him do before and didn't really create advantages against the myriad defenders who were on him. Dallas shot 24% from 3s, its worst shooting performance of the entire playoffs, and while some were contested, others were not. Boston has a history of making lazy contests on 3-pointers at times, and this could be an instance where it swings wildly back in their favor.

Going into this series, the game I felt most confident Dallas would win was Game 2, and that hasn't changed after Game 1. I'm putting .5u on Dallas moneyline at +230 (would bet down to +200), and .15u on Dallas -8.5 at +700 on FanDuel (would bet down to +650).

Pick: Mavericks ML & Mavericks Alt Spread of -8.5

As for me, I was on the Celtics and the Over in Game 1 and we saw that get steamed up from the opening number of 214 all the way to 217.5 by tipoff. I still like the Over, as I think the best adjustments for Dallas are pace-related. But I’ll stick to some player props for Game 2 based on some things we saw.

First, my biggest play will be Irving to go under his points line. He has the toughest matchup of the series with Holiday and Derrick White, and Boston demonstrated they’re not willing to give him an easy series, even at the expense of high-scoring Luka Dončić performances.

Second, I think the Mavericks need to shoot more 3s, and I think Washington will be the biggest benefactor of that adjustment. The Celtics will continue to shoot, especially Porziņģis. I like both big men to clear their 3s line of 1.5.

In these playoffs, the Celtics are 2-1 but 1-2 ATS when Tatum gets fewer than five assists. Not quite enough of a bellwether for me to bet a same-game parlay, but I’ll be monitoring his playmaking in the series and a same-game parlay could be in my future if we see a noticeable trend there. I will take Tatum’s rebounds + assists line at 15.5 since I see a lot of upside in both categories.

Pick: Kyrie Irving Under 23.5 Points (1u) | P.J. Washington Over 1.5 3s (.35u) | Kristaps Porziņģis Over 1.5 3s (.35u) | Jayson Tatum Over 15.5 Rebounds + Assists (.35u)

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