The Boston Celtics are four wins away from their first championship in 16 years. They will take their first step toward finishing off a dominant postseason run on Thursday when they host the surging Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of the 2024 NBA Finals. Boston led the NBA with 64 regular-season victories and rode the top seed in the Eastern Conference to a playoff run that has seen just two setbacks. However, both postseason losses have come on their home floor. The late-blooming Mavericks, who won the Western Conference as the No. 6 seed, were one of the league's best road teams and have enhanced that dynamic with a 7-2 run away from home in the postseason.

Tipoff is set for 8:30 p.m. ET from TD Garden. Boston is a 6.5-point favorite and the over/under for total points scored is 216.5 in the latest Celtics vs. Mavericks odds from the SportsLine consensus. Before making any Mavericks vs. Celtics picks for Game 1 of the 2024 NBA Finals, be sure to check out what legendary handicapper Bruce Marshall has to say.

Marshall, who for years was synonymous with the Gold Sheet, a famed sports betting newsletter, is an in-demand guest on numerous sports talk radio and TV shows across the country. Marshall's vast array of editorial work has been featured in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the New York Post and many other outlets.

He has won various handicapping titles and also has emerged as a top analyst for SportsLine. Marshall has crushed his NBA picks this season for SportsLine members, entering this matchup on a 196-144 run that has returned more than $3,800 for $100 players. Anyone following him already has seen massive returns.

Now, he has set his sights on Mavericks vs. Celtics and locked in his picks and NBA Finals predictions. You can visit SportsLine now to see his picks. Here are several NBA odds and betting lines for Celtics vs. Mavericks:

  • Mavericks vs. Celtics point spread: Celtics -6.5
  • Mavericks vs. Celtics over/under: 216.5 points
  • Mavericks vs. Celtics money line: Celtics -250, Mavs +200
  • DAL: The Mavericks are 11-6 against the spread in the 2024 NBA playoffs.
  • BOS: The Celtics are 31-23-3 ATS as a favorite of 6.5 or more points this season. 
  • Mavericks vs. Celtics picks: See picks at SportsLine

Why the Celtics can cover

The addition of veteran point guard Jrue Holiday has added an element of needed championship mettle to Boston's core, and he has delivered as expected. The 33-year-old playmaker was named an All-Star just last season, and he was a key cog for the Milwaukee Bucks during their championship run three years ago. In the offseason, Holiday said he planned on playing in Milwaukee for the rest of his career, but he ended up in Boston as part of the trade that sent Damian Lillard to the Bucks.  

While stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have generated most of the headlines, Holiday has quietly done his job and provided the leadership and clutch play he is known for. For example, in Game 3 against the Pacers in the conference finals, Holiday hit two free throws to seal the 114-111 victory and in Game 5 he delivered numerous key shots on his way to 17 points. He also grabbed the final rebound as time expired in the 105-102 victory. See which team to pick here

Why the Mavericks can cover 

Small forward Derrick Jones Jr. has evolved from a capable role player into a clutch playoff performer who is becoming known not only as a capable defensive stopper but also a consistent offensive player who has made some key shots in tight games. It's quite an accomplishment for a journeyman player who nearly didn't have a job this season. Jones declined a $3.4 million player option from Chicago after last season, upon finding minimal interest in the free-agent market, eventually signed with the Mavericks on a $2.7 million deal and no guarantee of a steady role from coach Jason Kidd.

Jones, who made a brief appearance for the Miami Heat in the 2020 NBA Finals, ended up starting 83 of Dallas' total 99 games this season, including all 17 playoff contests. The 27-year-old previously started 103 games combined at his four prior stops across seven full seasons. Jones told the media this week that his tireless work ethic and fearless approach ended up paying dividends this season. Meanwhile, Luka Doncic is averaging nearly a triple-double in the postseason, with averages of 28.8 points, 9.6 rebounds and 8.8 assists. Kyrie Irving is putting up 22.8 points, 3.9 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game in the playoffs. See which team to pick here

How to make Celtics vs. Mavericks picks

Marshall is leaning Over on the point total. He has also identified a critical X-factor that makes one side of the spread a must-back. He's only sharing what it is, and which side to back, at SportsLine

So who wins Mavericks vs. Celtics in Game 1 of the 2024 NBA Finals, and which side of the spread is a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Celtics vs. Mavericks spread to jump on, all from the expert who has returned more than $3,800 on his NBA picks this season, and find out.