NBA Finals Picks and Predictions: Warriors vs. Celtics Preview, Player Props, & Finals MVP Futures

NBA Finals Picks and Predictions: Warriors vs. Celtics Preview, Player Props, & Finals MVP Futures

This article is part of our NBA Picks series.

Welcome to the latest edition of the RotoWire NBA Roundtable. With the 2022 NBA Finals set to begin Thursday night, our panel of NBA experts are ready to dive in to all of the betting angles from what promises to be a closely contested series.

All odds via the DraftKings Sportsbook.

NBA Finals Betting Picks - Warriors vs. Celtics Series Odds

Looking at the series overall, what is your initial lean? Are the Warriors rightful favorites at -150 to win the series?

Alex Barutha: The line implies these teams are pretty even, though the Warriors get the slight edge due to home-court advantage for a potential Game 7. I'm leaning that way as well. Boston needing seven games to get through both Milwaukee -- shorthanded without Middleton -- and Miami -- very injured -- is concerning, and ultimately I think Golden State's experience will win out. The importance of the Warriors' core having been to six NBA Finals is impossible to quantify with stats. That may end up showing up in the coaching battle more than anything, with Ime Udoka being a first-year head coach in a situation that doesn't get any more high leverage than this.

Paul Martinez: Though the Warriors have home court advantage, I like the Celtics. Boston hasn't had an issue playing on the road thus far in the postseason—they're an impressive 7-2—and the Celtics have had a tougher road to the Finals (Brooklyn, Milwaukee, Miami) than have the Warriors (Denver, Memphis, Dallas). That's taking nothing away from Golden State's impressive run so far, including a perfect 9-0 home record, but Boston just strikes me as the overall better team.

Nick Whalen: The Warriors have homecourt, hold the rest advantage and appear to be the healthier team coming into the series, so they're the rightful favorites. But Boston will be easily their toughest test this postseason, so I'm in agreement with the oddsmakers that Golden State is only a slim favorite.

Michael Spero: I think the Warriors are rightfully the favorites. They have proven it on the top stage before and come in with the Finals experience. Boston, however, is no joke and I am expecting a tight series.

Mike Barner: My initial lean is the Celtics. They allowed the lowest three-point shooting percentage in the league during the regular season, so I think they can give Stephen Curry and company trouble from behind the arc. They have passed every difficult test thrown their way so far, including winning Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals on the road.

Ken Crites: As a Celtics fan, my initial lean is horribly biased. That said, based on experience, the Warriors stars are rightful favorites. But this is what gives me hope: The Celtics ranked third in made three-pointers allowed with 11.5 per game during the regular season. They have a chance at stopping Golden State's high-powered offense.

Jeff Edgerton: My initial lean is in favor of the underdog Celtics at +130.

Gabe Allen: The Warriors are rightful favorites. Boston has been pushed to the limit in consecutive series, plus Golden State has the clear edge in terms of experience.

2022 NBA Finals Preview

The Warriors will win the Finals if…

Alex Barutha: They pressure the ball and force the Celtics to take threes. Many of Boston's losses were primarily due to turnover issues, and the Warriors will also win most games that end up being a three-point battle.

Paul Martinez: They can limit their turnovers and find a way to contain the fearsome duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

Nick Whalen: They knock down open threes. It sounds overly simple, especially for this team, but Boston held Milwaukee and Miami to 28 and 30 percent, respectively, from beyond the arc. The Celtics defend the three-point line as well as any team in these playoffs, so Golden State's role players, in particular, must capitalize when they're left with an open look.

Michael Spero: Stephen Curry plays at an MVP level.

Mike Barner: Klay Thompson can average more than 20 points per game in the series.

Ken Crites: Marcus Smart and Robert Williams continue to be hobbled.  Neither is at 100% and the only way Boston wins is with an excellent defensive effort.  That doesn't happened if these two are hampered.

Jeff Edgerton: Stephen Curry can get his other playmakers involved and overcome the Boston defense with his own sharpshooting skills.

Gabe Allen: Klay Thompson keeps thriving on both ends.

The Celtics will win the Finals if…

Alex Barutha: They play physically and use their size advantage. It's never that simple, but Boston is bigger and more athletic at nearly every position. They can have a tendency to settle for threes, but you aren't going to beat the Warriors in a three-point battle.

Paul Martinez: They aren't overwhelmed by the Finals spotlight and can maintain their energy after two straight grueling, seven-game series.

Nick Whalen: Everyone stays healthy and they're able to limit the Warriors' role players. To some degree, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are going to get theirs, but Boston can't allow the likes of Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole and Kevon Looney -- who've all had big games in these playoffs -- to beat them consistently.

Michael Spero: Marcus Smart proves he deserved Defensive Player of the Year against Golden State's backcourt

Mike Barner: Marcus Smart and Robert Williams III can stay healthy.

Ken Crites: All of the Celtics stay healthy, Tatum has five dominant games and Jaylen Brown stays aggressive while cutting back on the turnovers.

Jeff Edgerton: They continue their smothering defense and put up better offensive numbers than they've had recently.

Gabe Allen: Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown dominate their individual matchups with Thompson and Andrew Wiggins.

NBA Finals MVP Odds and Picks

Who is your pick for Finals MVP? And who is your favorite dark-horse candidate worth betting?

Alex Barutha: My pick is Stephen Curry (+110). I think there's a chance Klay Thompson (+1500) gets it, but if it's even close, I think Curry will get the votes (partially to make up for the year that Andre Iguodala won). Klay is the dark-horse candidate that I think has the best chance to win, partially because I'm picking Golden State in the series. Jordan Poole is intriguing at 35/1, but it's hard to imagine how well he'd actually have to play to earn it.

Paul Martinez: Since I'm expecting Boston to win, Jayson Tatum (+170) is my MVP favorite. As for a dark horse, I'll do with recently crowned Defensive Player of the Year, Marcus Smart (+4500). He's had some big offensive games in the postseason, and he'll be in the spotlight as the primary defender on Stephen Curry. Smart's success (or lack of it) in frustrating Curry could be a deciding factor in the series and could certainly sway the MVP vote.

Nick Whalen: Stephen Curry is the obvious pick if Golden State wins. The fact that he hasn't won one yet probably works in his favor at this point in his career. If the Warriors win, the gap between Curry and anyone else would have to be massive for him not to win Finals MVP. In terms of a dark horse, you could talk me into Al Horford mounting a case similar to how Andre Iguodala took home the award in 2015. But ultimately there's a reason he's 90/1.

Michael Spero: My Finals MVP pick is also my dark horse. I am rolling with Marcus Smart at +4500. I think with some spirited offensive outings and lockdown defense, Smart could be the surprise player to win it

Mike Barner: Since I think the Celtics win, I'll go with Tatum. I'll take Jaylen Brown (+1100) as my dark-horse candidate because of his scoring ability.

Ken Crites: Curry is the proper chalk candidate. But Playoff Klay has to be a fun dark-horse candidate at 15/1. He just needs to get red-hot from three for a couple of games to make it a debate.

Jeff Edgerton: If Boston prevails, you can envision some key plays from Marcus Smart down the stretch, giving him an upper hand as a dark horse. It's hard to see anyone but Stephen Curry winning the award for Golden State.

Gabe Allen: Outside of Stephen Curry and Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Klay Thompson are too obvious, so I'd suggest putting some coin on Al Horford (+9000) if you're looking for a long shot. He has been awesome during this whole playoff run.

2022 NBA Finals Best Bets for Warriors vs. Celtics

Picking from the Series Specials on DraftKings, which bets are your favorites to hit?

Alex Barutha: Stephen Curry has averaged at least 25 points in all but one of his Finals trips, so it's hard not to like him for 25+ PPG and Warriors to win at +120. The other odds are tough for me to quantify, and I'm not sure if I'm getting a fair number. For example, any player to make 9+ threes is +650, but that's something Curry has only done twice in his 128 playoff games. Klay has also done it only twice in his entire playoff career. Tatum's career high for made threes (regular season or playoffs) is nine. I'm not sure I'd hit that bet for anything less than 10-to-1.

Paul Martinez: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Stephen Curry, and Klay Thompson to each average 20+ points (+125) seems likely to hit given the fact that superstars like to shine in the Finals. For something with a nicer potential payout, I'll go with Curry and Tatum to each average 30+ points (+800). Both leaders are sure to put up plenty of shots as they look to carry their team to a title, so each player could average 30+ even without an eye-popping field-goal percentage.

Nick Whalen: Jayson Tatum to average 25+ points and Boston wins the Finals (+160) is slightly better value than just picking the Celtics straight up (+130). I also may sprinkle some cash on any player to record 18+ rebounds in any Finals game (+800). The odds aren't quite as high as I'd like, but it's happened 15 times since 2000 and three times in the last five Finals (Kevin Love, Draymond Green, Deandre Ayton).

Michael Spero: I like the value on any player to record 50+ points in Finals game (+1100)

Mike Barner:  If I'm going to take a chance on one of these, it would be Jayson Tatum to average 25+ points and Boston wins the Finals (+160). If they pull off the win, it will likely be squarely on his shoulders.

Ken Crites: Jayson Tatum to average 25+ points + Boston wins Finals seems logical at +160. If Tatum doesn't average 25-plus, I can't imagine Boston winning the series.

Jeff Edgerton: Jayson Tatum averaging 30-plus points + Boston winning the series (+380).

Gabe Allen: Given how many great shooters are playing in this series, I'm talking myself into any player making 9+ threes in a game (+650).

Warriors or Celtics? NBA Finals Predictions

Official prediction time: Who wins the series and in how many games?

Alex Barutha: Warriors in 6. I think it's reasonable to believe the Celtics' starting five is equally as talented as the Warriors, if not slightly more so, but I'm expecting Golden State's experience to be the difference. They're more experienced on the court and on the sidelines, and when the talent is close, I'll lean on who has been there before.

Paul Martinez: Celtics in 6.

Nick Whalen: Warriors in 6.

Michael Spero: Celtics in 7. 

Mike Barner: Celtics in 7. I think their defense can hold Curry and Klay in check, while Tatum and Brown prove to be too much for the Warriors to overcome.

Ken Crites: My fandom requires me to say Celtics in 7. I have hope, based on that mid-March, 110-88 blowout win by the Celtics at Golden State. Curry didn't play in that one, but Poole was on fire. Fine, I admit it -- I'm grasping at straws.

Jeff Edgerton: Celtics in 6.

Gabe Allen: Celtics in 7.

2023 NBA Title Odds - A First Look

Bonus question: The odds to win the 2023 NBA title are up at DraftKings – Which team is your favorite bet at its current price?

Alex Barutha: I don't necessarily have one favorite, but the farthest down I would go is the Pelicans at 40-to-1 -- though, as a quick aside, I won't be surprised if Cavs at 100-to-1 sees longshot action. With New Orleans, you're betting on Zion staying healthy -- a risk in and of itself -- but their projected starting five is very talented with CJ McCollum, Herbert Jones, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson and Jonas Valanciunas. Maybe the offseason also sees them add to the bench. And if Zion can pick up where he left off in 2020-21, he'll end up being one of the better players in the NBA, making New Orleans a team with potentially two All-Stars in him and Ingram, and McCollum is on the fringes.

Paul Martinez: Memphis Grizzlies at +1500. They may have played in the Finals this year if not for the injury to Ja Morant. They have the flexibility to improve in the offseason and could soon emerge as the best team in the Western Conference.

Nick Whalen: First of all, hats off to the oddsmakers for installing the Lakers at a shockingly realistic 20/1. My favorite bet is the Bucks at 7/1. After the Boston-Miami series, I remain even more convinced that had Khris Middleton not gone down, the Bucks would be representing the East in the Finals. They'll essentially be running it back next season with (hopefully) a better cast of role players around Middleton, Jrue Holiday and Giannis Antetokounmpo. If I had to bet a longshot, it would be Toronto at 50/1.

Michael Spero: First, I like Dallas at +1400. Luka Doncic is only getting better and hopefully the Mavericks continue to build to his strengths. Next, getting even more aggressive, I do like the value on Atlanta +8000. I think the Hawks are a bit underrated. 

Mike Barner: I'll take the Bucks at +700. If Khris Middleton didn't get hurt in these playoffs, I wouldn't be surprised if they were the team representing the East in the Finals.

Ken Crites: At +1500, I'll take the Memphis Grizzlies. I believe in their system. But obviously Ja Morant has to stay healthy.

Jeff Edgerton: If Kawhi Leonard manages to come back and look like himself, the Clippers are a great value pick at +600.  Similarly, Jamal Murray will return, and he's the missing piece Denver (+1700) needs to get to the next level.

Gabe Allen: Bucks (+700). Milwaukee nearly took down Boston without Khris Middleton, so I feel like they should have lower odds than the Nets, Clippers and Suns. I'd also consider sprinkling some cash on Denver (+1700), if you're looking for a long shot.

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Gabriel Allen
Gabriel Allen is a tennis professional and freelance journalist whose work has been published in the Washington Post and Sports Illustrated, among other places.
Mike Barner
Mike started covering fantasy sports in 2007, joining RotoWire in 2010. In 2018, he was a finalist for the 2018 FSWA Basketball Writer of the Year award. In addition to RotoWire, Mike has written for Sportsline, Sports Illustrated, DK Live, RealTime Fantasy Sports, Lineup Lab and KFFL.com.
Alex Barutha
Alex is RotoWire's Chief NBA Editor. He writes articles about daily fantasy, year-long fantasy and sports betting. You can hear him on the RotoWire NBA Podcast, Sirius XM, VSiN and other platforms. He firmly believes Robert Covington is the most underrated fantasy player of the past decade.
Ken
An early RotoWire contributor from the 90's, K-Train returns with the grace of Gheorghe Muresan and the wisdom of Joe Gibbs. Ken is a two-time FSWA award winner and a co-host on the RW NBA Podcast. He's also the 2016 Champion of the prestigious RW NBA Keeper League and the 2019 Champion of the RW NFL Ottoneu Keeper League. Ken still owns a RotoNews shirt.
Jeff Edgerton
Jeff has provided sports content for numerous sports outlets and has played fantasy sports since scores had to be tabulated via newspaper. He started working with RotoWire in 2017. Originally from South Carolina, he's a lifelong Clemson fan now enjoying the sun in Los Angeles.
Paul Martinez
Paul joined Rotowire in 2019 as a contributor of baseball content. He has been playing fantasy sports since the turn of the century and is the first three-sport winner in the esteemed Couch Wars league. He considers Dodger Stadium his second home during baseball season.
Michael Spero
Michael writes in the NBA and NCAAF departments for RotoWire. He is a big-time fan of both the Bulls and Nuggets. Michael spends his time playing pick-up or anxiously rooting for his fantasy teams.
Nick Whalen
Now in his 10th year with the company, Nick is RotoWire's Senior Media Analyst, a position he took on after several years as the Head of Basketball Content. A two-time FSWA award winner, Nick co-hosts RotoWire's flagship show on Sirius XM alongside Jeff Erickson. He also co-hosts RotoWire's Football and Basketball podcasts. You can catch Nick's NBA and NFL analysis on VSiN and DraftKings, as well as RotoWire's various social and video channels. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @wha1en.
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