NBA Finals G3: Celtics-Mavericks Preview, Props, Trends

Field Level Media

June 12, 2024 at 4:44 pm.

The NBA Finals enters a pivotal Game 3 with two distinct possibilities: the Boston Celtics take a commanding 3-0 lead and inch closer to the franchise’s first title since 2008, or the Dallas Mavericks show some life and start to turn the tide of what has been a one-sided series so far.

The Mavericks are favorites at home despite opening the Finals with a pair of one-sided losses. That’s due in part to the series shifting to Dallas and in large part to a key injury facing Boston.

Dallas is a 2.5-point favorite at BetRivers, where the Mavericks have been backed by 60 percent of the spread-line money. Their -137 moneyline also has drawn 67 percent of the money and 63 percent of the total bets.

Meanwhile, the 213-point Over/Under has seen the Over backed by 67 percent of the money.

–Kyrie Irving Over 23.5 Points (-110 at DraftKings): Irving has struggled through the first two games of the series, averaging just 14.0 points on 35.1 percent shooting from the floor. However, he averaged 25.6 points per game for the season, and Dallas’ season is essentially on the line Wednesday night. This has been the most popular player total point prop at the book ahead of Game 3.

–Luka Doncic Over 3.5 3-Pointers Made (-190 at BetRivers): This has garnered the most player prop tickets at the book with 4.1 percent. Doncic made four three-points in each of the first two games of the series and has made at least four in six consecutive postseason games.

The Celtics have proven to be the deeper, more talented team early on. Boston has been winning despite struggling on the offensive end such as shooting just 10 of 39 (25.6 percent) from 3-point range in Game 2.

The Mavs, meanwhile, can’t rely solely on Doncic, who posted a triple-double with 32 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in Game 2, a 105-98 loss at Boston. Doncic put together that performance after being listed as questionable for the game. It was revealed that he sustained a chest injury in Game 1 to go along with lingering issues with his right knee and left ankle.

Doncic, who is probable for Game 3, addressed his status on Tuesday, saying: “I feel good. I don’t want to get in any more details, but I feel good.”

The bigger question for the Mavs is finding a way to get Doncic’s top running mate, Irving, going after a slow start. In the two games in Boston, Irving averaged just 14 points on a combined 13-for-37 shooting, including 0-for-8 from long range. If Dallas wants to get back in the series, Irving needs to find a way to make a greater impact.

“They’re not going to stop pressing us, stop their pace, stop testing us on both ends of the floor,” Irving said. “We know what we’re in for. But now we have to raise it to an even higher level, and it starts with me.”

Of course, that’s easier said than done against a Boston defense that is dynamic and versatile. The Celtics have used multiple defenders to slow down the Mavs’ backcourt with Jrue Holiday, Jaylen Brown, Derrick White and Jayson Tatum all being options to provide different looks against Doncic and Irving.

Boston center Kristaps Porzingis is hopeful he’ll be able to play after sustaining a left leg injury late in Game 2. The Celtics announced it is unrelated to Porzingis’ previous right calf injury. If Porzingis is cleared to play in Game 3, it would be his first appearance in Dallas since being traded by the Mavs in February 2022.

Boston coach Joe Mazzulla said the decision on Porzingis’ status – listed Wednesday afternoon as questionable — will come down to the medical staff.

“He’s doing anything and everything he can to be ready for the game tomorrow. It’s a serious injury,” Mazzulla said. “At the end of the day, our team and the medical team is not going to put him in any bad situations.”

Boston is in the driver’s seat based on league history, as 31 of 36 teams who had a 2-0 lead in the NBA Finals went on to win it. So, what’s the Celtics approach going into Game 3 as they look to extend their perfect road record in the playoffs to 7-0?

“Trying to be the hungrier team,” Holiday said. “We’re going to go out there and try and execute a game plan.”

“One game, I could explode. All the percentages and things like that could change. So, it’s just that mindset of I’m one game away or whatever that means.” –Tatum on his two sub-par shooting nights to begin the Finals.

— Drew Davison, Field Level Media