Celtics pound Mavs in Game 1, ‘under’ cashes easily

Celtics pound Mavs in Game 1, ‘under’ cashes easily

The Boston Celtics (77-20 straight up, 49-43-5 against the spread) raced out to a 37-20 lead in the first quarter and led by 21 points at halftime on their way to a 107-89 win over Dallas in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

Boston covered the spread easily as a 6.5-point home favorite, and the 196 combined points dropped ‘under’ the 217.5-point total.

For those who had forgotten about Celtics’ center Kristaps Porzingis since an April 29 injury at Miami in Game 4 of the first round sidelined him for 37 days, he announced his return with authority Thursday night at TD Garden.

Porzingis entered the game with 7:17 left in the opening stanza and Boston leading, 12-11. He immediately sparked a 25-9 run to close out the quarter by scoring 11 points to go with three rebounds and two blocked shots. Porzingis hit four of his first five shots, including a 30-foot trey in transition.

Boston extended its lead to 29 points on Jayson Tatum’s deep 3-ball with 4:11 remaining until halftime.

However, Dallas didn’t fold. In fact, Luka Doncic keyed a 22-9 spurt to start the third quarter. His 3-pointer with 4:28 left in the stanza had the Mavs back to within single digits, trailing 72-64.

But Boston immediately responded with a 14-0 surge to build the lead back up to 22 points.

In just 20:34 of playing time, Porzingis produced 20 points, six rebounds and three blocks, draining 8-of-13 field-goal attempts.

“Even if I have time off, I can jump right back in and I feel the same way,” Porzingis said. “I get to my spots … so whether it’s playoffs, regular season or whatever, I know how to do this. That’s it, just having that confidence, going out there whatever, first round or Finals, just going out there with full confidence and giving what I have to the team.”

Jaylen Brown led six double-figure scorers with 22 points, six rebounds, three steals and three blocks, while Tatum added 16 points, 11 boards and five assists. Derrick White contributed 15 points and handed out five assists.

Jrue Holiday finished with 12 points, eight rebounds, one steal and five assists without a turnover, and Al Horford had 10 points, seven boards, two blocks and three assists without a turnover.

Doncic scored a game-high 30 points in the losing effort. He had 10 rebounds, two steals but only one assist compared to four turnovers. Doncic’s one assist was a season-low effort. In fact, it was only the fifth time all season that he had less than five assists in a game.

P.J. Washington had 14 points and eight rebounds for the Mavs, while Kyrie Irving was limited to 12 points on 6-of-19 FGAs. Irving missed all five of his launches from 3-point range and didn’t get to the free-throw line. He had more turnovers (three) than assists (two) in a lackluster effort.

Jaden Hardy was in double figures with 13 points and three rebounds in merely 10:41 of playing time.

Dallas head coach Jason Kidd stayed optimistic in his post-game interview:

“A lot of good things in that third and fourth that we can build on,” said Kidd, whose team outscored the Celtics in both of those quarters. “That’s what we talked about after the game, and that’s what we have to do.

“We came out and won the third. Had a great opportunity to cut into that lead. Unfortunately, they go on a run. Once we cut it to eight, but then you know we won the fourth. So there are two positive things that we can take from these four quarters.”

Boston has now won five games in a row over Dallas both SU and ATS in the head-to-head rivalry. The Celtics have won those five games by margins of 13, 29, 9, 28 and 18 points. The ‘under’ improved to 7-2-1 in the last 10 encounters between these clubs.

As of Friday morning, most betting shops had Boston installed as a seven-point home favorite for Sunday’s Game 2. The total was 214.5 points, while the Mavs were +220 to +225 on the money line.

For first-half wagers, the Celtics were four-point ‘chalk’ with a total of 110 points.

Dallas (62-38 SU, 59-41 ATS) fell to 7-3 both SU and ATS in its 10 postseason road assignments. The Mavericks are still 6-2 both SU and ATS in their last eight games, and they’re also 6-2 both SU and ATS in their last eight games when listed as underdogs.

FanDuel’s updated series price has Boston as an enormous -420 favorite, leaving Dallas as a +330 underdog. The book has Tatum as the +105 ‘chalk’ to win NBA Finals MVP honors. The next-shortest odds belong to Brown (+280), Doncic (+350), Porzingis (+700 or 7/1), Irving (36/1), White (70/1) and Holiday (140/1).

FanDuel’s odds for Boston to win in a four-game sweep are +440. The Celtics are +240 to win the series in five games, +450 to win it in six and +380 to win it in seven.

On the flip side, the odds for Dallas to win the series in five games are 27/1. The Mavs are +800 to win the NBA Finals in both six and/or seven games.

Sunday’s Game 2 tip is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. Eastern on ABC.