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NBA Odds, News & Notes: Celtics, Mavericks Cruising Toward Title Fight

Updated:2024-06-18 15:16    Views:193

Jayson Tatum Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Finals better deliver because these Conference Finals have been disappointing. And that's a bit odd considering how close five of the six games have been.

Both the Indiana Pacers and the Minnesota Timberwolves have been outright competitive. If they had any sense of late-game competence, the Pacers could be leading the Boston Celtics 2-1. If they got any scoring from their pair of All-Stars, the Timberwolves might be up 3-0 on the Dallas Mavericks. Alas, here we are with two series on the verge of ending, both likely to last just four games.

There may be a more troubling concern ahead for one of the two presumed conference runner-ups. And the evidence of that worry lies in one of the almost-certain conference winners.

Do not trust this, Indiana

Two years ago, the Dallas Mavericks beat the Rudy Gobert-led Jazz in the first round of the playoffs and then slipped by the Suns in seven games to reach the Western Conference Finals. The eventual champion Warriors had little trouble beating the Mavs in five games.

Perhaps it was in part because Golden State went on to beat the Boston Celtics in six games to win Steph Curry his fourth ring, but Dallas ran back into the 2022-23 season with most of that same roster, confident it was on the verge of a Finals appearance.

It lost Jalen Brunson to free agency, replacing him with Kyrie Irving at the 2023 trade deadline. Aside from getting Tim Hardaway Jr. back from injury, the Mavericks did not change a thing.

That roster led Dallas to tank its final weekend of the regular season to be assured of a lottery bid, about as far from the Finals as it could be. If that has escaped your memory, recall that Luka Doncic played just 12:35 in the penultimate game, a 3-point loss to the Bulls, and was then a healthy scratch in a 21-point loss to the lowly Spurs.

Yes, that worked out for the Mavericks, turning that lottery position into Dereck Lively II, a vital piece to their playoff run. Then again, they also still needed to reinvent their roster at the 2024 trade deadline — the second time in two years — to create the roster that has so bothered the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Dallas did not need to wait a year and a half to find those pieces. It could have been more proactive. The Indiana Pacers need to choose to be proactive to avoid that year’s delay, and a year’s delay may be optimistic.

Reaching the Eastern Conference Finals has been a great accomplishment, but Indiana needs to remember that every other team in the East will try to improve this offseason. It cannot be assumed this roster — even with the return of shooter Bennedict Mathurin — will enjoy similar success in 2025.

Look around the East. The Knicks became an infirmary unit, the Bucks lost both their stars in the postseason, the 76ers' dream of one healthy season from their MVP in Joel Embiid, and the Heat refuse to reset. For the sake of enjoyable basketball, let us all hope the Pacers relish this run and learn from it; learn from it enough to inspire some offseason moves to remain an Eastern threat.

Do not take a step backward for a season that the Mavericks did. They were lucky to rebound so strongly in 2024.

This week's NBA best bets Boston Celtics vs. Indiana Pacers (Monday, May 27)

If you have read much of this handicapper’s ramblings, you have heard him say it by now, “Buy on bad news, sell on good.” It's a tried and true gambling axiom.

It usually applies to injury news, but it can also factor into the response to injuries. If the bad news for Boston was nearly losing Game 3, then the appropriate choice now is to buy on the Celtics.

The Boston Celtics have their flaws. We will spend far too much time in the next 10 days discussing them.But tonight, @D_Farmer expects them to roll against Indiana.See how he plans to profit off of Game 4 ⤵️https://t.co/REQkm2mZDP

— Covers (@Covers) May 27, 2024

They saw Indiana’s best shift without Tyrese Haliburton. Now it's Boston’s chance to adjust to that.

Best bet: Celtics -7 (-110 at DraftKings)

Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Dallas Mavericks (Tuesday, May 28)

Anthony Edwards looked exhausted in the first two games of the Western Conference Finals, understandable for a 22-year-old with a newborn and playing in his longest season ever, even more so when coming off the emotional and literal highs of the seven-game series win against the Nuggets.

Edwards looked to have some of his energy back in Sunday’s Game 3, taking 22 of his 24 shots from inside the arc, grabbing nine rebounds, and giving out nine assists.

Anthony Edwards was remaining upbeat in the locker room afterwards. Telling teammates they were gonna go out and make history coming back, saying all they need is one game where everyone is clicking and they'll be OK.

— Chris Hine (@ChristopherHine) May 27, 2024

Edwards has played in five elimination games in his career, including two last round. He's averaged 39 points + rebounds + assists in those five games. Only Denver’s double teams last round held Edwards under 40 in PRA in those games, and Dallas has not devoted the same double teams to him.

Best bet: Anthony Edwards points + rebounds + assists Over 39.5 (-115 at bet365)

NBA Trends: 154-0

Is it you, Indiana?

How about you, Minnesota?

The Mavericks absolutely dominated down the stretch to take a 3-0 series lead over the Wolves. No team has ever recovered from a 3-0 deficit. The record in those situations? 154-0.

— Melissa Rohlin (@melissarohlin) May 27, 2024

Raising the ceiling: Celtics in elite company

Only 26 teams in NBA history have won 64 games or more in a regular season, including this year’s Celtics, and 15 of those previous 25 went on to win the NBA Finals.

In the seven games in all four rounds playoff era, beginning in 2003, only the 2016-17 Warriors had such a season and then lost fewer than five postseason games, going 16-1 in Kevin Durant’s first year as part of that dynasty.

At 11-2 right now, Boston could establish itself as arguably the second-greatest modern-era NBA champion. It would certainly have a strong case.

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NBA Futures Update: Mavs or Celtics?

Odds to win the NBA Championship via @DKSportsbook:🔸 Celtics (-240)🔸 Mavericks (+200) pic.twitter.com/mwwgflIqsf

— Covers (@Covers) May 27, 2024

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