NBA Finals Betting Odds & Predictions: Betting Angles, Analysis For Celtics vs. Warriors Game 2
(Jesse D. Garrabrant/ Getty Images Contributor)
Pictured: Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson
With 10:38 to go in the fourth quarter of Game 1 of the NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors’ win probability in the Action Network app was 94% after Jayson Tatum missed a 3-point shot.
Less than 11 minutes later, the Boston Celtics were up 1-0. Golden State absolutely collapsed as the Celtics got red hot and shot 9-of-12 from 3 in the final frame to steal home court advantage and take the series lead.
How did it happen? What did we learn? And how do we take that info and bet Game 2?
Four Things That Led To The Warriors Losing Game 1:
— Worrying too much about Jayson Tatum drives
— Not respecting Al Horford from deep
— Klay Thompson’s bad night
— Playing Andre Iguodala in the fourth
A large part of the Warriors’ strategy was trying to shut down Jayson Tatum and daring the other Celtics to beat them. They threw the kitchen sink trying to stop Tatum on drives.
Look at how many defenders are primed on this drive in the fourth. Tatum misses, but look at how open the shooters are on the perimeter.
Tatum is the head of the snake, so the strategy was to sell out on Tatum in Game 1. The result, however, was wide open 3’s.
This is a mid-transition play, but look at how the Warriors react to Tatum’s drive, which leaves Payton Pritchard wide-open in the corner:
Tatum’s worth the defensive attention, for sure. But the Warriors, throughout the game, were having everyone shade to the paint on the weak side, which opens up reversals for Boston.
To be clear: this is Boston’s bread and butter. This is what the Celtics want, they are not a pick and roll team. They use Tatum and Brown to attack and reverse the ball to weak side shooters. That is the essence of their offense.
Watch Jordan Poole (No. 3) on this entire possession and see how far off of Derrick White he drifts.
Meanwhile, the Warriors were just not concerned about Al Horford. Draymond Green dared Horford to make them pay from 3.
On his podcast, Green said Horford has been shooting the lights out in the playoffs, as has Marcus Smart. He mentioned White hasn’t shot the ball well — which he hasn’t — but he did specify that much of this was the game plan.
“At the end of the day, something has to beat you,” Green said. “And you’re going to pick, in an NBA game, what is less likely to beat you. You know Jayson Tatum can beat you. You know Jaylen Brown can beat you. … A lot of Al Horford’s 3s last night were wide open. If you can take those away and all of a sudden those guys are not shooting 15-of-23 from 3, that doesn’t necessarily kill you.”
So, Green said they will continue to choose to focus their defense on Tatum, but that they need to balance that out with allowing fewer uncontested 3s.
“I leave that game saying, ‘We stopped the guys we needed to stop. They won’t shoot 15-of-23 from 3 again. You take that away, you make some tweaks on the offensive end, and we’re back in business.’”
So the question becomes how much they balance. Do they overcorrect and let Tatum get loose? Or do they continue to dare these shooters as Green intimates their shooting performance felt unsustainable to him.
Horford is shooting 43% in the playoffs. If they keep leaving him open, Horford will continue making them.
Thompson struggled making shots for Golden State. He had trouble guarding Brown in space after the first quarter. Thompson was 6-of-14 for 15 points, but really, he could have had a much bigger night.
Much of it was deferral from Thompson. Brown guarded him for 44 matchups, the most of any player on him and he attempted just one shot. Credit Brown for his defense, but on some level, Thompson will have to challenge that matchup a little more.
Finally … Iguodala was a problem and, for the first time, he was a problem for Golden State instead of the opponent.
Iguodala, who hasn’t played since the Denver series, looked out of sync, throwing wild passes and not having good communication, particularly with Jordan Poole.
Additionally, Steve Kerr trusted Iguodala late. Iguodala played 5:26 of the fourth quarter and was a -8.
Watch this possession. The Warriors use Iguodala to run a pick and roll with Curry, trying to challenge Robert Williams.
However, Williams doesn’t have to worry about Iguodala on the roll — he’s not fast enough, big enough or explosive enough to be a threat.
Then, when he clears, watch where he clears to, the dunker spot weak side, clumping the space for Thompson and simultaneously allowing Williams to stay within range for the block.
With Iguodala on the court vs. Williams, the Celtics were +9. In minutes with Williams and without Iguodala, the Celtics were -10.
This is likely not the series for Iguodala. The cold hard truth may be that Iguodala’s ability to play at this level may have expired. He’s been open about how bad of shape his body is in and there’s been a lot of speculation toward his potential retirement after this season.
Three Things That Led The Celtics To Win Game 1
— Good, not outlier, shooting
— Jaylen Brown attacking
— The Grind of the switch
As mentioned above, Draymond Green essentially said the Celtics role players, specifically Al Horford, Marcus Smart and Derrick White, shot unsustainably in Game 1. He definitely intimated that they have to take away more wide open looks, but really, only eight of the Celtics’ 3-pointers were uncontested, relative to 33 lightly or heavily contested.
Here’s where you can get into trouble. It’s not just that the nature of the playoffs is that every series is a small sample. It’s that you can get caught up in the nature of regression and reasonable outliers.
Boston shot great, there’s no denying that. Their 3-point performance relative to expectation was 96th percentile of all playoff games in the past nine seasons per Second Spectrum (factoring shot location, specific shooter, and contest level).
However, it was also Boston’s fifth 3-point shooting performance of 65th percentile or greater relative to expectation this postseason. In other words, they are on a phenomenal hot streak in these playoffs.
So even if it was borderline an outlier performance, it was likely Boston was going to get 1-2 of those performances in this series. They just happened to get it at arguably the absolute best time, on the road in Game 1.
Jaylen Brown was fantastic. He attacked switches, like in the first clip here vs. Poole, and he scored nine points on eight usage matchups (shot, turnover, or foul) vs. Klay Thompson while Thompson again went scoreless against him.
Brown is likely undervalued for Finals MVP at +800.
The Celtics switched more in the fourth than they did the rest of the game, but didn’t do it all that much, either. However, one thing the switching did was stagnate Golden State. It’s exhausting running and getting nothing, you feel like you haven’t done anything. Green mentioned on his podcast that they stood around a lot in the second half and it’s true.
Golden State has to constantly challenge Boston’s switches and while they may respond in Game 2, there’s a very good chance that the Warriors offense, by the end of the series, will grind down just as it has vs. other switching teams, like the Rockets in 2018.
Value For Game 2
Home favorites after losing Game 1 are 47-34 ATS since 2003, per GimmeTheDog.com. Steve Kerr teams are 11-6 ATS as a home favorite after a loss.
I bet Boston -1.5 on the series spread before the series began and that has obviously aged beautifully. I bet Warriors -1.5 as a hedge at +440, but will likely add to Boston again after they lose Game 2, which I expect.
If Boston is good enough to beat Golden State twice at home to effectively end the series before it begins, then I’m willing to take the -1.5 profit and go home. But a desperate team vs. a squad that knows it got the split and can be happy with it is a good enough spot to bet a line that is less than two possessions.
As a warning, although the Warriors are great after a loss, they are usually huge favorites in this spot. Under Kerr, the Warriors are 0-3 straight up and ATS as less than a 6-point favorite at home after a loss.
First Half: Celtics +1.5, ML +116
The big takeaway here is that Boston won the second quarter by six and the fourth quarter by (gulp) 24. The Celtics have now won 13-of-19 second quarters and 13-of-19 fourth quarters. Since the Nets series, they have won 12-of-15 second and fourth quarters.
So there certainly seems to be opportunities to bet Boston live for the half after the first and fourth quarters.
The four-man combo of Al Horford, the Jays and Derrick White is +24 in the playoffs in the second quarter. The Celtics shifted that lineup to have Smart instead of White and it has paid dividends. Don’t be surprised to see that combo again.
The pace, at just 93.5, wasn’t crazy high in Game 1. But the efficiency was super high. There’s likely to be a reduction in efficiency from Boston’s shooting outside and Golden State’s efficiency inside.
However, while pace wasn’t high, tempo was. Both teams looked to push to get into the opponent before they could set up their defenses. That may not reflect in total possessions, but it’s going to jack up the efficiency.
The total went over 14 points in Game 1. Even with a significant reduction, the Game 2 total of 216 still feels soft.
If Boston wins, it’s because once again they just shoot the absolute lights out.
If Golden State wins, they likely get more contributions from players like Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole hitting 3s to boost their offensive production.
The margin for the over will likely be tighter, but I still like the over in Game 2, despite how good both defenses are.
Otto Porter Over 1.5 made 3’s +140
Porter is a pretty obvious component to play. Not only can he space the floor more effectively than Andrew Iguodala, he can rebound more effectively and defend more effectively than Iguodala. He also gives the Warriors more size. You can play him at the four next to either Kevon Looney or Draymond Green, or play him at small forward to go big vs. Boston.
Steph Curry Over 10.5 assists and rebounds
I’m expecting more switching from Boston in Game 2. If they try Robert Williams again, he’s going to get cooked. Curry will figure out that he can pump-fake when Williams pushes up and destroy him on drives.
But there will also be assist opportunities. I’m expecting better offense from Golden State’s shooters and more minutes for Curry after he made that a talking point after Game 1.
More than 39 (which he he had in Game 1 with a minute of garbage time), less than the 44 that Kerr talked about. He had 10 assists and rebounds despite a hot shooting night from Boston, which lowered the available rebounds.
Andrew Wiggins over 22.5 points and rebounds
Wiggins is going to have a big series. He just is. The Celtics will live with him, the way Golden State will live with Derrick White, but Wiggins is a better shooter, more athletic and a better scorer.
I think Looney plays more which impacts Wiggins’ rebounds, but there will be enough off long-ball 3s from Boston for Wiggins to find. Wiggins played less than 35 minutes in Game 1, but I expect that number to rise both in Game 2 and as the series progresses.
Stay Away: Jayson Tatum overs
The Warriors aren’t going to stop aggressively throwing help at Tatum. The assist number may drop if Boston only shoots 15 percentage points better than expected vs. 25 percentage points better. The points number is still very high.
The going idea is that Tatum won’t shoot that poorly again. But Tatum had 17 shots compared to 14 for Brown and 17 for Horford and Smart combined. We know the Warriors’ top priority is to try and limit him. Tatum has had great bounce-back performances. I don’t want to bet the under on him under any circumstances. But I’m not sure the over is the play either, so it’s a stay away.
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