The Boston Celtics head home tied 1-1 with the Golden State Warriors in the 2022 NBA Finals. Boston’s now the NBA Finals favorite with home-court advantage as we offer up our Warriors-Celtics picks for Game 3.
Playoff blowouts appear to be here to stay. We’re yet to see a game finish within a single-digit margin after two NBA Finals contests. As a basketball fan, I’m hoping for some more competitive gameplay, but as a bettor, I can rest easy taking the favorite and laying the points.
With this series headed back to Boston, it would be easy to jump on the Celtics because they’ll have home-court advantage. However, they have gone just 4-5 ATS in TD Garden during the playoffs. Fortunately for Boston, the Warriors have been even worse on the road. They have gone an abysmal 2-5 ATS on the road in the playoffs.
Here are my picks and predictions for Wednesday’s NBA Finals Game 3 matchup between the Warriors and the Celtics (odds via FanDuel Sportsbook; pick confidence based on a 1-to-5-star scale).
Warriors vs. Celtics Game Info
Date/Time: Wednesday, June 8 at 9 p.m. ET
Location: TD Garden, Boston, MA
Warriors vs. Celtics Odds Analysis
The Celtics opened as 3.5-point favorites, and that's where they remain across the market. It's the first time the Celtics have been favored in the series. Boston has attracted 52% of the cash on only 42% of the tickets as a sign of the sharps backing the hosts.
Unlike the spread, we've seen movement in the total. It opened at 213 but now sits at 212.5 across the market. Such movement makes sense after Boston's dismal shooting in Game 2. The Over has drawn 60% of tickets but just 48% of the cash.
Warriors vs. Celtics Picks
- Celtics -3.5 (-110) ★★★★
- Over 212.5 (-110) ★★★
- Marcus Smart Over 13.5 points (-120) ★★★★
Warriors vs. Celtics Predictions
Celtics -3.5 (-110)
Few expected the Celtics to go out and win Game 1. While some analysts expected them to steal a road game this series, Game 2 or Game 5 seemed like better targets for Boston because they were entering the series at a disadvantage in both rest and health. But they won anyway, and the factors that led to the Game 1 win should be at play again in Game 3.
Boston won Game 1 because the team limited its mistakes. The Celtics shot efficiently, turned the ball over less often, and earned free throws at a higher rate. They also kept the rebounding race even. In contrast, they lost Game 2 because they shot significantly less efficiently and turned the ball over frequently, though they did win the rebounding battle by one.
The Celtics won't repeat their mistakes from Game 2 on Wednesday night. Boston is undefeated after a loss in the playoffs, both straight up and against the spread, which demonstrates how resilient this roster has been. The Celtics are a combined 24-13 ATS after a loss this season, too, which ranks third in the NBA. The Warriors are just 31-30-4 ATS after a win.
Ultimately, I'm targeting the Celtics because we've seen them play better, and we know they can bounce back. I'm fading Golden State because the Dubs have struggled on the road and with consistency. The Warriors have all the talent in the world, but they lack the discipline necessary to beat the Celtics in a seven-game series. That much was evident when Draymond Green got into a spat with the Celtics' Jaylen Brown in Game 2 despite already having one technical foul.
Over 212.5 (-110)
I'm buying the dip on the total, however slight. Remember, Boston and Golden State accounted for 228 points in Game 1. The 195 total points scored in Game 2 feels like more of an outlier than a sign of lower scores to come because the Celtics folded at the start of the fourth quarter. Reserve forward Aaron Nesmith played almost a full quarter, and only Jayson Tatum and Derrick White played 30-plus minutes.
Further, the advanced metrics point to positive shooting regression in Game 3. Boston recorded an embarrassing effective field-goal percentage of just 46.9% in Game 2 after earning a brilliant 62.9% in Game 1. Neither of those numbers are sustainable, but a balanced showing at somewhere around Boston's regular-season average of 54.1% would favor the Over.
The trends also suggest that the Over is the way to go. Golden State is 11-7 to the Over in the playoffs, which gives them the third-highest playoff Over percentage. The Celtics are just 9-11 to the Over, but that still ranks as the sixth-highest playoff Over percentage. Golden State is also an NBA-high 12-6 to the Over when playing as a road underdog this season.
An elite defensive performance from Boston could torpedo this play, but I'm betting that the offense will get the job done even if Golden State struggles from the field. That said, this number may fall another point or two before tip, so don't jump in on it too early.
Smart Over 13.5 points (-120)
The number for this prop will probably flip between 13.5 and 14.5 before tip, but I expect it to close on the higher side. As a result, bettors will want to get action down soon to capitalize on the value.
Smart had a disastrous two-point showing in Game 2, but he has yet to record back-to-back single-digit scoring nights in the playoffs. Unless he aggravated an injury in Game 2, it's safe to expect a bounce-back showing in Game 3.
Although Smart shot an abysmal 16.7% from the field in Game 2, he is still shooting 40.1% in the playoffs. He shot 41.8% in the regular season, too. A combination of limited shot attempts, foul trouble, and an unfriendly game script prevented Smart from turning his terrible start to Game 2 around. Fortunately for us, that means the books are now discounting this line.
Free throws make for another reason to target Smart. He has yet to earn a single trip to the line in the NBA Finals, but he had been averaging 3.3 free-throw attempts per game before this series. That number jumps to 4.5 in Smart's six home starts. A combination of positive shooting regression and friendlier officiating should help Smart surpass a number that sits well below his playoff average of 14.9 points per game.
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Warriors-Celtics picks made on 6/6/2022 at 10:03 a.m. ET.