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Here’s where betting experts see value in Boston-Dallas NBA Finals

Value is in the eye of the beholder.

That phrase certainly rings true when it comes to betting on the NBA Finals, which tip off Thursday night in Boston.

Westgate SuperBook oddsmaker Jeff Sherman and professional sports bettor Erin Rynning have different views of where the value lies in the series price between the Celtics and Dallas Mavericks.

Boston, the clear favorite all season to win its record 18th NBA title, is a -220 series favorite over Dallas. The Mavericks are a +190 underdog and were as high as 50-1 earlier this season to win their second championship.

“If you would’ve set a Dallas-Boston series price before the playoffs had even started, it probably would’ve been about Boston (-400),” Sherman said. “But the way that things have transpired in the playoffs, you’re looking at half that price.”

The Celtics are 12-2 in the postseason (7-7 against the spread), but had a relatively easy path to the Finals.

They beat the Heat without star Jimmy Butler, the Cavaliers without star Donovan Mitchell and the Pacers without star Tyrese Haliburton. Boston is on a 1-5 spread slide after winning three close games against Indiana in the Eastern Conference finals.

The Mavericks are 12-5 in the playoffs (11-6 ATS) after beating the Clippers and Thunder before eliminating the Timberwolves — who knocked out the defending NBA champion Nuggets — in five games in the Western Conference finals. Dallas has covered four of its last five games and seven of its last 10.

“Just the way Boston struggled a bit with an Indiana team without Haliburton and Dallas looked pretty good against Minnesota, you could just tell that if we went too high on Dallas, in the +200 or +220 range, it would’ve been a little bit one-sided on Dallas support,” Sherman said.

Bettors backing Mavericks

Bettors are still all over the Mavericks to upset the Celtics.

Eighty-five percent of the tickets at BetMGM and 70 percent of the tickets at the SuperBook are on Dallas. Sixty-one percent of the money at the SuperBook is on Boston, bolstered by the return of center Kristaps Porzingis.

“I still think you’re going to see the body of work show for Boston,” Sherman said. “They’ve just been the best team all year. I would expect them to come through here.”

Rynning (@ersports1) still likes the plus price on the Mavericks, who are led by Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving. Doncic won the NBA’s scoring title this season after averaging 33.9 points per game.

“Rarely in the NBA playoffs (will you) find the team with the best player garnering a 2-1 underdog price,” Rynning said. “One can certainly make that case with Luka Doncic and the Mavericks. The betting market still hasn’t found the right price with this Mavericks team that’s taken the NBA by storm since the All-Star break and into the playoffs.

“Importantly, the Mavericks were able to generate a plethora of easy shots against the strong rim-defending Timberwolves, while the Celtics are vulnerable in the paint. Yes, the Celtics are the most likely series winner here, but the value is with the underdog. The Mavericks are the bet in Game 1, plus the points as well.”

Boston is a consensus 6½-point favorite in Game 1 after the line opened at 6 at the SuperBook.

“We took some sharp play at -6 to get us to 6½,” Sherman said.

In Game 1, 57 percent of the tickets at the SuperBook are on Dallas and 88 percent of the money is on Boston. Seventy-two percent of the tickets and 66 percent of the money is on the Mavericks at Caesars Sportsbook.

The total is 214½. Eighty-six percent of the tickets and 87 percent of the money is on the over at Caesars.

MVP odds

Celtics star Jayson Tatum is the -130 favorite at the SuperBook to win the NBA Finals MVP award. Doncic is the 2-1 second choice.

OnlyPlayers.com handicapper Doug Kezirian, formerly of ESPN, recommends a play on Doncic to win MVP instead of a series bet on the Mavericks.

“If someone wants to bet Dallas +180 to win the Finals, it makes more sense to bet Luka +210 to win MVP,” said Kezirian (@DougKezirian). “There is no world where the Mavs win without that occurring. Any money on Kyrie Irving or another Maverick is just lighting your money on fire.”

That said, Kezirian believes the Celtics will beat Dallas.

“While I do believe there is a legitimate path for Dallas, based on Luka’s dominance and (Celtics coach) Joe Mazzulla’s potential incompetence, I think Boston is the right side,” Kezirian said. “The Dallas defense did improve with the midseason acquisitions, but they still advanced only because Minnesota’s two best players underperformed and the Thunder shot 30 percent on open 3-pointers. Boston’s offense is just too good.”

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on X.

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