The best expert bets for the NBA Finals and NBA player props

We're already nearing the end of the NBA Playoffs, as we're already in the NBA Finals. Jonathan Von Tobel has already done a great job covering the Dallas Mavericks vs Boston Celtics matchup, providing an in-depth preview of the series, a look at the head-to-head matchups in the series, and analysis of the series leaders in a number of statistical categories. JVT will continue to provide you with his exceptional in-depth game-by-game analysis, but all of my picks will be featured in this daily column that combines my best NBA bets and NBA player bets, so read on to find out how I'm betting on Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday, June 9. Also, be sure to check out our NBA Finals Betting Hub for all of our series content.

MORE: Check out our Pro Picks page for everything our experts have to offer on June 9

The best NBA bets today – June 9

Dallas Mavericks at Boston Celtics (Game 2) – 8:30 p.m. ET

The Celtics came out in Game 1 and ran over the Mavericks. Boston held a 37-20 lead after the first quarter, sparked by the excellent two-way play of Kristaps Porzingis. After returning from a serious calf injury, Porzingis scored from all over the court on offense. His basket protection was also a big factor for the Celtics, who returned to elite defense around the basket. Porzingis' shooting technique was also contagious for Boston, with the Celtics hitting 16 of 37 threes overall without Payton Pritchard.

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Overall, the Mavericks looked completely out of shape defensively, and the Celtics applied pressure by going straight at Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic on that end of the court. And offensively, the Mavericks couldn't get anything going. Doncic did score 30 points in the game, but he couldn't work the magic we're used to. And Irving made just 6 of 19 shots from the field and 0 of 5 threes. Irving's poor play really set the tone for the rest of the team, as the spacing just wasn't there all night.

There's no denying that Dallas will need to make drastic changes going forward. But the Mavericks have been good at adapting from game to game under Jason Kidd, while the Celtics haven't really been able to do that under Joe Mazzulla. So I'd expect Dallas — which always seems to throw away Game 1 under Kidd — to be the more prepared team in Game 2. Again, the law of averages will play a role. The Mavericks hit just 7 of 27 threes in Game 1, and that number is sure to skyrocket. If Irving gets going, that would certainly help. If he starts getting some attention, he'll be able to get some daylight on some of Dallas' shooters. I'd also be surprised if Boston's six core rotation players combined to hit 14 of 35 (40.0%) threes again. I know this Celtics team can shoot really well, but the Mavericks are a good defensive team and that percentage just doesn't seem to be sustainable.

It's also worth noting that Jayson Tatum was incredibly patient in Game 1. He didn't shoot very well in the game, but he hit 6 of 16 shots from the field and was a +16 in the game. Tatum seemingly didn't want to force it, and that allowed Boston's offense to flow quite well. But there will very likely be some games where the Celtics star makes bad shots in isolation. We've seen that time and time again with this Boston team. Well, don't be surprised if the Mavericks try to trick him into doing that in Game 2.

All in all, I know Game 1 was extremely bad, but I still expect the quality defense in this series to lead to some really close games. With that in mind, I'm happy to take 7.5 points in this dead-end game for Dallas.

Bet: Mavericks +7.5 (-115 – 1.5 units)

NBA Player Props Today – June 9

Dallas Mavericks at Boston Celtics (Game 2) – 8:00 p.m. ET

PJ Washington didn't shoot well in Game 1, but he still scored 14 points. Washington has now scored at least 12 points in seven of the last 11 games, so it's a little surprising to see his point total drop to 11.5. I know the Mavericks' offense runs on Doncic and Irving, but the defense is letting Washington take free throws. And until that changes, it's hard not to like the over on his point total. Washington may not be a sharpshooter, but he can convert a few free throws per game. He also has enough in-between play to win these bets with it.

Bet: Washington over 11.5 points (-115)

Record 2023-24: 383-423-3 (+1.68 units)