NBA Finals Best Bets: Our Staff’s Top Picks for Celtics vs. Warriors Game 5

NBA Finals Best Bets: Our Staff’s Top Picks for Celtics vs. Warriors Game 5 article feature image

Mercedes Oliver/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: A Boston Celtics player runs out for warmups in Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Finals.

  • We've reached the "pivotal" Game 5 in the NBA Finals with the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors tied 2-2 in the series.
  • The Warriors are home favorites after tying the series, but a key betting trend could be important for the Celtics.
  • Which way are our NBA analysts leaning? They break down their picks for Celtics vs. Warriors Game 5 below.

Back and forth we go. This NBA Finals series has shifted in both directions through four games and the Golden State Warriors showed they still have plenty of fight left after their thrilling Game 4 win in Boston.

The Celtics still haven't lost back-to-back games in the postseason and have shown they are capable of winning huge games on the road (see: Game 6 in Milwaukee and Game 7 in Miami). Can they rise to the occasion again on the biggest stage?

Our NBA analysts certainly think so and they are each betting the road team in Monday's Game 5 matchup. Read on for their analysis and picks for Celtics vs. Warriors.

NBA Odds & Picks

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Celtics vs. Warriors ML
Celtics vs. Warriors ML
Celtics vs. Warriors Spread

Boston Celtics vs. Golden State Warriors

Celtics ML (+145)
9 p.m. ET

Brandon Anderson: This deep into the playoffs, any number of trends have emerged and the trends I've been playing all point the same direction for Game 5: the road underdog Celtics.

Boston has been all but invincible after a loss over the past few months. Since January 29, the Celtics are an impossibly good 12-1 after a loss, both straight up and against the spread. All but one of those 12 wins are by at least eight points and half of them are by 20 or more. In the playoffs, the number stands perfect at 7-0 both SU and ATS, and even against the best of the best competition, the post-loss Celtics are covering by an incredible 13.7 points per game.

The numbers match the eye test. Boston can get a bit complacent after wins, getting sloppy with turnovers, stalling on offense and failing to lock in on defense. That's the Celtics team we just saw give away Game 4 after a big win, almost like a young team has gotten overconfident. But after a loss, the team seems to lock in, run its stuff and show up on D.

And Golden State has been just the opposite. Since an easy first round, the Warriors are only 3-5 straight up after a playoff win. They're an ugly 2-6 ATS in those games, failing to cover by 8.5 PPG. The books seem to admit that Boston is the better team by making the Warriors such a short favorite even at home, and the numbers back that too. Since the 2015 postseason, Golden State is just 2-5 SU and ATS as a home playoff favorite of five or fewer points.

All of these trends point toward Boston here, and they point strongly. The trends say Boston won't just cover, but that the Celtics will win outright — and that they could even win by 8-to-10 points or more. That's what we've seen from Boston after a loss and it's often what we've seen from Golden State after a win.

With a moneyline at +140 implying just a 41.7% chance of victory for Boston, I have to back the road underdogs to win outright. I might even follow the trend of a big win and back the Celtics at an alternate line too, something like +340 for Boston -7.5 at FanDuel.

It feels impossible after what Stephen Curry just did Friday night by dropping 43 points, but I still see the Celtics as the superior team if they don't make mistakes and give the game away and I'll trust the trends that say they'll be locked in for a monster Game 5.

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Boston Celtics vs. Golden State Warriors

Celtics ML (+145)

Matt Moore: If it was just the trends, that would be one thing.

While we're here, let's talk about them. You've likely heard a ton about how Boston is 7-0 after a loss in the playoffs. They bounce back pretty convincingly. Losing to the Warriors and then going on the road is different from losing to the Bucks without Khris Middleton, however.

The trend I'm more interested in in is this: the Celtics had 17 turnovers in Game 4. In games after they have 14 or more turnovers in the playoffs, which has happened an astounding 12 times in these playoffs, they are 9-3 straight up and against the spread. They are 4-0 after having more than 15 turnovers.

Boston shot just 40% from the field in Game 4. They are 4-0 straight up and ATS after shooting 40% or worse in the playoffs.

Here's why the Boston offensive side of this matters: it's literally what's deciding the games. Stephen Curry went for 43 and was spectacular. The off-the-bounce high-hanger over Robert Williams, the drifting stepback over Grant Williams. The four-point plays. The whole bag.

And yet despite all that … the Warriors had a 111 offensive rating. For perspective, that was still the 9th lowest offensive rating the Warriors have had in the postseason. That's a beatable number. A 120 offensive rating and we're talking more about how Boston is defending, especially their stubbornness in basically letting Curry go off on them.

But that's not what's happening. What is happening is that in non-transition possessions that don't wind up with a turnover, Boston and Golden State are both averaging 1.1 points per possession via Second Spectrum and that's with the expected bounce back explosion in Game 2 by the Warriors.

When you remove offensive rebounds, it moves Boston's offensive rating to 109.7 per 100 possessions and Golden State's to 107.

The Celtics are losing because of things they control. If they don't turn the ball over and they keep the Warriors off the glass, they win the possessions battle. That's it.

I know the Warriors are at home, but Boston has honestly been better on the road. This series is tight and getting tighter. But I have not seen anything to deter me from my belief that Boston controls its destiny and I have a lot of evidence they'll do so after a loss.

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Boston Celtics vs. Golden State Warriors

Celtics +4

Austin Wang: As the world continues to salivate over Stephen Curry's Game 4 dominating performance, we are going back to the well on an angle that continues to be profitable.

The Celtics have not lost consecutive games in these entire playoffs. They are 7-0 SU and ATS off a loss. In addition, they've been unstoppable on the road. Since the beginning of March, the Celtics are 15-5 straight up and 17-3 ATS on the road.

The Warriors, similar to the Celtics, seem to exhibit some complacency after a win. They've failed to cover the spread in eight of their past 11 games following a win.

Curry has been incredible, but it continues to be a one-man show. I think the Celtics will put some additional pressure on locking Curry down in Game 5 and he will have to rely on his secondary stars to step up. Unfortunately, none of them have been shooting well.

Following a playoff win where Curry has 30-plus points, the Warriors are only 6-10 ATS in the following game, per Gimme The Dog.

I expect a strong comeback effort for the road team. I'll take Celtics +4 and I would play it down to +3.

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