NBA betting: Best bets for Game 6 of the Finals
Chris Sheridan picks out his favorite wagers for the potentially title-deciding game of the Finals between the Warriors and Celtics.
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Somewhere in Boston, probably on the North End, there is a restaurant with a secret: That eatery has been booked by the Golden State Warriors for their championship celebration, but there is one catch.
The Warriors need to win Game 6 tonight in order to celebrate, and if they lose, that restaurant will stay empty through the night (but will still get paid, which is among the costs of doing business in the NBA that you do not always hear about).
Also, somebody on the Golden State staff has been assigned the task of procuring several cases of champagne to be sprayed and consumed, but mostly sprayed, inside the Warriors locker room if the team is victorious. What happens to those bottles if the Warriors lose is a mystery, because hauling all that bubbly back to San Francisco is cumbersome. But rest assured that the bottles of bubbly will be purchased and ready.
When a championship is at stake in the NBA, this is an annual ritual that is kept a closely guarded secret among those in the know. The last thing the Warriors need is a photograph of a team employee wearing Warriors gear loading all of that champagne into a rental truck or the team bus. That type of thing can go viral on social media almost instantly, and if the Celtics got their hands on it they would pass it along to coach Ime Udoka, who would make his team aware and inform them that they are being disrespected because the Warriors would be acting as though they have already won.
So that is one of the back stories that is taking place this particular Thursday as the NBA gets ready for Game 6 of the Finals with Golden State holding a 3-2 lead.
Boston is favored by four despite losing the two most recent games by 10 points each time, which is a testament to the oddsmakers believing that they can get half of the wagered money to come in on each side of the ledger. The prudence of this line-setting is questionable as gamblers have been hitting the Warriors hard because of their edge in championship experience, but that line is what it is. The trick for those who like to gamble is to prognosticate this one with as much of a degree of certainty as possible.
The fourth quarters of the last two games have been telling: Golden State closed Game 4 by scoring 21 of the final 27 points, and in Game 5 they scored 18 of the first 23 points of the final frame to give themselves enough breathing room to coast in the final four minutes.
Over the course of the last two rounds of the playoffs, we have not seen a ton of great fourth-quarter performances from the Celtics, and this could be their last chance to reverse that trend and do what they did in Game 1: Outscore the Warriors 40-16 behind Jaylen Brown, Derrick White and Al Horford to erase a 12-point deficit at the start of the period.
In Game 3, Boston forced three turnovers from Steph Curry in the first three minutes of the final frame and used their vaunted defense to hold the Warriors to 11 points, so at least we know they are capable. But trailing 3-2, do they have the mental capacity to do the same thing they did two rounds ago against Milwaukee: Win the final two games after trailing 3-2.
“We've kind of been forced to play with our backs against the wall. We got real used to it where it's kind of part of us, in our nature now. It's nothing new to us. It's another game. It's another tough game. We're in our house,” Marcus Smart said after practice Thursday.
Smart in many ways is the motor for the Celtics, a barometer player whose intensity is not always as infectious as it should be to his younger teammates Tatum and Brown. Tatum is shooting only 37 percent from the field and .656 from the free throw line while making as many 2-pointers (19) as 3-pointers. Those are not Finals MVP numbers, yet he is +350 to win that award, Brown is +1500 and Smart is +10000.
If you believe in the Celtics, you probably want to jump on Smart and Brown in that market. Your faithful correspondent picked Warriors in 5 and thus does not counsel making that wager, but it is there for the taking for those who believe Boston can dig out of this hole. On the Golden State side, Curry is -320, Wiggins is +1400, Klay Thompson is +15000 and Draymond Green is +25000. It would take another monster game from Wiggins (he had 26 points and 13 rebounds in Game 5) and another dud from Curry (he was 0-for-9 on 3-pointers) to give Wiggins a realistic chance, and we would not counsel that wager either because Curry was so good in the four previous games that one dud, and maybe even two, would be dismissed by the media voters who annually favor superstars over role players who overperform.
The last time Golden State had a chance to close out a championship was 2018 when the Cavs, trailing 0-3, were lifeless in the third quarter while scoring just 13 points of what became a 108-85 loss (Moet was sprayed in the locker room afterward, and the championship party was held at Ruth’s Chris steakhouse). Kevin Durant took home his second of two finals MVP trophies, and because Andre Iguodala won that award in 2015, Curry remains without that particular piece of hardware. One would imagine he wants it.
So where are the worthy wagers tonight?
With rotations expected to be shortened, we still like the double-double route as we did two nights ago when we should have touted Wiggins (who knew he was going to have a consecutive double-double for the first time in his career?).
The first we like is Boston center Robert Williams, who had 10 points and eight rebounds last game but played only 30 minutes. The Celtics’ size is their biggest strength, and if Williams is not too achy to stay out there for all 48 minutes, it would not be surprising to see Udoka ride him hard. He is +395 to double-double.
Al Horford is coming off a 9-point, 9-rebound outing in 35 minutes, and after apparently being mentally crippled after learning that he had the defensive assignment on Curry for much of Games 1 and 2, we also expect him to get as much playing time as he can stand and push both of those numbers at least one digit higher. He is +360 to double-double.
Jaylen Brown had 18 points and nine rebounds last game and is always a strong double-double candidate, and at +475 he is another touted wager. So that makes three, and then we face the question of whether we should get greedy and go for four in a parlay.
Curry has had three double-doubles in the postseason, most recently his 43-point, 10-rebound effort in Game 4. He had eight assists and 16 points in Game 5, and he has a chance to bump that assists number up by two tonight because he is going to see double-teams all night. And he can always get 10 boards if the ball finds him.
The double-double prop line for Curry is +650. With all four legs, the odds come out as a $98,196 payoff on a $100 wager. Taking Curry out, a $100 wager pays $13,093.
So the advice here is play both the three-way and the four-way. It may be the last chance to make money on the NBA… although if the Celtics win, we still have Sunday. Good luck!