Boston, the turnaround talk of the town that transformed its woeful start into a top-two league finish, is a four-point underdog in game one against a dynastic Warriors team that will be playing at home, just as many expected.
What bettors need to keep in mind, however, is that betting on small Celtics spreads in this series will inevitably lose money, whether Boston itself wins or loses— here is why.
Do not bet small spreads
The Celtics have lost exactly six games in these playoffs: three to the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals and three to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. In those six losses, there was an average disparity of seven points.
Additionally, only two losses, both to the Bucks, were “close”; one came in a 103-101 loss in game three, and the other was a 110-107 defeat in game five. Their largest loss was by 12 points, and they also have two 11-point losses on their resume.
All in all, this shows that Boston is not usually a team that brings games down to the buzzer— they either win outright or lose rather convincingly. It is also important to consider that Boston, as strong as they have looked since the turn of the year, is very bad in clutch time.
“The clutch” is defined by the league as a game within five points with five minutes or less on the clock in the fourth quarter; in “the clutch,” Boston’s main man, Jayson Tatum, is shooting 2-25 from three-point range with 13 turnovers and seven assists. His counterpart, Jaylen Brown, leads the playoffs in fourth-quarter scoring at a rate above 60%, but even this has not been enough to overcome the team’s shortcomings in the big moments.
If you are betting the Celtics, then bet them
The point of the information above is not to discourage Boston bettors— in fact, it is actually to encourage them.
The underdog spread for Boston provides little value in this series. Assuming that a game is close going down to the wire, Boston’s track record shows that they will lose if they are behind, which also means that they are likely to miss a late shot or turn the ball over. What do teams do late in games when they lose the ball and are trailing? Foul.
What do the Warriors do? Make foul shots.
Golden State has two players— Stephen Curry and Jordan Poole— shooting over 92% from the charity stripe, and is shooting 75.5% as a team in these playoffs. So, even if games are close, Golden State has the composition to erase small spreads.
The Warriors are also far more experienced than the Celtics, which means that, again, they have the advantage in late-game scenarios. There is virtually no world in which Golden State wins or loses by just a point or two, barring any buzzer-beaters from either team.
Bettors should either be wgaering the Boston moneyline or Golden State spread in this series because any other formula is likely to result in loss or limited payouts.