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NBA Finals Game 1 Betting Trends: 4 Key Tips for Celtics vs. Warriors Opener

NBA Finals Game 1 Betting Trends: 4 Key Tips for Celtics vs. Warriors Opener article feature image

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images. Pictured: Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors.

Game 1 in the NBA Finals can be different things to different teams. For some, it’s a table setter, a sign of things to come. For others, it can be a feel out game to get adjusted to a series with massive stakes.

In the 75 previous NBA Finals, the Game 1 winner went on to win the series 70% of the time, which is actually the lowest winning percentage of any playoff round. Great teams don’t need to win the Finals opener to win the series, but getting that first win out of the gate clearly portends future success.

So what does that mean for Game 1 of Celtics vs. Warriors? Action Network contributor, Austin Wang, and Director of Research, Evan Abrams, detail some notable betting trends to keep in mind ahead of the NBA Finals series opener.

Home Teams Have a Game 1 Edge Historically

In Game 1 of the NBA Finals, home teams are 15-1 straight up and 14-2 against the spread since the 2004-05 season, according to Bet Labs.

When the line is 8 points of fewer during this timeframe, home teams are 14-1 SU and ATS. The lone loss in that scenario was the Miami Heat to the San Antonio Spurs in the 2012-13 Finals.

In the first half of Game 1 of the NBA Finals, home teams are 6-2-1 SU and 5-3-1 ATS over the past nine seasons.

Rest vs. Rust in Series Opener

Warriors enter Game 1 of the NBA Finals on seven days rest since Game 5 of the Western Conference finals, while the Celtics are just on four days rest.

In the past 15 years, when a team on seven or more days rest faces a team on four or fewer days rest in Game 1 of the Conference finals or NBA Finals, the more rested team is 9-4 ATS, covering six in a row.

Teams on seven days rest vs. a teams on four or fewer days rest are 28-11 SU and 24-15 ATS in the playoffs since 2005, including 23-6 SU as favorites.

Well Rested vs. Less Rested in NBA Finals Game 1 — Last 15 Years

  • 2013: Spurs (10) vs. Heat (3); SAS +5, W 92-88
  • 2005: Spurs (8) vs. Pistons (3); SAS -6.5, W 84-69

Teams that played a Game 7 in their previous game are 21-37 SU and 22-34-2 ATS in Game 1, according to Gimme the Dog. They are 8-21 SU and 10-19 ATS in Conference finals and NBA Finals. They are 11-28 SU and 16-22-1 ATS as an underdog. Conversely, teams that finished their previous series in five or fewer games are 50-19 SU, 43-25-1 ATS in following Game 1s.

Pace of Play in Game 1

The over/under for Celtics-Warriors Game1 is hovering around 213.5 ahead of tip-off, which is close to the average (215) for Game 1s over the past seven seasons. According to Bet Labs, the under has been profitable over the past 17 NBA Finals (10-6-1, 62.5%), but in the 3-point dominant era, the over is 4-3.

In playoffs this season, the under has been a profitable bet (47-33, 58.8%) but the Celtics and Warriors are on opposite ends of that spectrum. The Celtics have been 10-8 to the under in the playoffs this season, while the Warriors are 10-6 to the over for the postseason.

Notable Team Trends in Game 1s

Warriors: Since Steve Kerr has been coach of the Golden State Warriors, Warriors are 21-2 SU and 13-10 ATS in Game 1s. They are 10-1 SU and 9-2 ATS during this timeframe at home and single-digit favorites.

Celtics: Boston is 1-5 ATS in their last six Game 1s and failed to cover in five straight Game 1s dating back to the 2019-20 playoffs. They lost outright in all but one of those matchups: Their first round series against the Brooklyn Nets this season.

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