FiveThirtyEight Disagrees With Vegas, Sees Celtics as Massive Favorite in NBA Finals vs. Warriors

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum.
Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum. / Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

In the world of advanced analytics and projections, no model is perfect, but there are different ways to make a more informed pick on a game, series or individual player prop. 

FiveThirtyEight is a fantastic projection model, and it's been all over the Boston Celtics and their No. 1 defense as the favorite to win the NBA Finals for months. At first it seemed a bit lofty, but the Celtics have proven the projection right, knocking off the Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat to make the NBA Finals. 

Now, they face an extremely experienced Golden State Warriors team that is looking to show their dynasty period isn’t over just yet. The odds from WynnBET Sportsbook have the Warriors favored to win the series with home court, differing significantly from the FiveThirtyEight projection. 

Latest Odds to Win the 2022 NBA Championship

  • Warriors: -155
  • Celtics: +127

Based on implied probability, oddsmakers are saying that the Warriors have a 60.78 percent chance of winning the series while the Celtics have a 44.05 percent chance of coming out with the victory. 

FiveThirtyEight Prediction for 2022 NBA Finals

Fans of the “We Believe” Warriors and even this year’s current team, can start to go back to the “nobody believed in us” narrative. 

FiveThirtyEight’s model has Boston’s chances of winning the NBA Finals at a whopping 80 percent, nearly 36 percent better than the odds suggest. 

Does this offer value on the Celtics?

It sure seems that way. Boston’s elite defense and ability to switch everything has made it a nightmare for opposing offenses. At the same time, they'll have their hands full with a Warriors team with the best offensive rating in the NBA in the playoffs. 

Golden State’s biggest offensive flaw is its tendency to turn the ball over (averaging 14.8 turnovers per game in the playoffs), but it does have a much more free-flowing offense that may be able to take advantage of some of Boston’s switches. 

How Should You Bet the NBA Finals?

I have a Warriors ticket in pocket, so I am thinking of hedging in this series if I can get the right number. 

However, if you have nothing already wagered on this series, there may be value in waiting to bet the Celtics until after Game 1. If you truly believe in FiveThirtyEight’s projection, getting Boston at plus money right now is a bargain, but it may get even better after Game 1. 

The Warriors come into Game 1 with a ton of rest, and they have yet to lose a game at home in the postseason. Meanwhile, Boston just played a second straight series that went to seven games, and Robert Williams and Marcus Smart have been dealing with injuries this postseason. 

If Boston loses Game 1, the odds will shift even further in the Warriors’ favor. That would be the perfect time to back a Boston team that has yet to lose back-to-back games in this postseason. 

Waiting could backfire if Boston wins Game 1, but I think it is a risk worth taking to get the Celtics at the best possible number to come through on this projection.

Find Peter Dewey’s full betting record in the NBA this season here.