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9/2, 16/1 & 35/1 Tips for the NBA Conference Finals

Updated on 6:58pm GMT 20 May 2024
9/2, 16/1 & 35/1 Tips for the NBA Conference Finals

Before becoming a Sports Journalist for Free Super Tips, Aaron spent three years studying Sports Journalism at the University of Sunderland while taking in the Black Cats' 'glory years' under Martin O'Neill. Now back in Northern Ireland he turns niche stats into predictions for FST, while he's one of the few people on this island who is equally comfortable at Windsor Park and the Aviva.

After a pair of Game 7s on Sunday night, we’re down to the final four in the NBA Playoffs. With the Denver Nuggets exiting at the second round, the league is about to see a sixth team lift the title in as many seasons.

The Boston Celtics and the 6-seed Indiana Pacers remain in the East, while it’s a clash between 3-seed Minnesota Timberwolves and the 5-seed Dallas Mavericks in the West. Ahead of those series, I’ve selected my best bets for the two Conference Finals. We have 9/2, 16/1 & 35/1 tips, all selected with bet365.

NBA Outright Odds update

  • Boston Celtics – 20/33
  • Minnesota Timberwolves – 5/2
  • Dallas Mavericks – 5/1
  • Indiana Pacers – 30/1

Odds via bet365, correct as of 12pm Monday, 20th May

The Pacers are huge underdogs to win their first championship, making the Celtics the heavy favourites after leading the way in the regular season. The Western Conference contenders are harder to split, but the Timberwolves are favoured after they dethroned the champions. The Mavericks still offer some value at 5/1, having been my tip at 11/1 ahead of the postseason.

NBA Conference Finals Best Bets

Boston Celtics vs Indiana Pacers – Over 5.5 Games @ 5/4

Starting in the East, the Celtics are 1/9 favourites to progress to the NBA Finals, but I have concerns about them. For starters, they were in essentially this position last year, heavily fancied to beat the 8-seeded Miami Heat. The Celtics lost the first three games in a 4-3 series loss.

This young Pacers side lack the grit of that Miami team, but they have a lot of troubling factors for the Celtics. Indiana are being written off for beating two injury-hit sides in the Milwaukee Bucks and New York Knicks, but they recorded the best offensive efficiency stats of all-time in the NBA during the regular season. They also set an NBA record-high shooting percentage for a playoff game in their Game 7 victory in New York.

The Celtics have also benefitted from injuries in the playoffs, meeting a Miami Heat side without Jimmy Butler, Terry Rozier and a fully-fit Duncan Robinson. They faced a Cleveland Cavaliers side who were without All-Star Jarrett Allen too. Despite that, the heavily favoured Celtics dropped Game 2 against both teams.

The Celtics have injury issues of their own, with Kristaps Porzingis still out. He is ruled out through the first two games at least, hurting a Celtics roster that already lacks depth. Without him, Boston could be exposed with the ageing Al Horford left to mark Miles Turner or Pascal Siakam. Indiana also has the option to go small, using their three high-scoring guards to worry Boston.

The Pacers have really got going in recent games, with Tyrese Haliburton back to his best. He helps the Pacers live up to their name, looking great in fast breaks and moving the ball around for open threes. That will tire a short Celtics rotation and likely blow them away on Boston’s recurring off-nights, so back Indiana to make this series competitive.

Minnesota Timberwolves vs Dallas Mavericks – Dallas to win @ 6/4

The Timberwolves had the most eye-catching win in the second round, but there’s no denying that the Mavericks are the real deal. Their defensive improvement has stood up to serious tests and they’ve beaten both the star-studded LA Clippers and highly-rated OKC Thunder so far.

The Mavericks have won games without playing well, shut down opposing stars and used their wide range of offensive weapons to win eight of 12 postseason games.

I like this matchup for Dallas, as the Denver Nuggets punished Minnesota when they were able to defend well as a unit. Denver wasn’t consistent enough in that regard, but the Mavericks have really locked in defensively, holding teams under 100 points in half their postseason wins.

Dallas also has height and depth in the frontcourt to deal with Minnesota, plus they have two of the top three players in the series in Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.

Irving’s impact can’t be overstated, he’s stepped up with Luka dealing with injuries. He’s already won the title and he’s been brilliant defensively alongside having some big scoring nights. Minnesota doesn’t have the kind of versatile defenders to tackle both Irving and Doncic, so I’m backing Dallas to progress with Irving far too big a price to be named series MVP.

NBA Conference Finals Correct Score Double

It’s hard to get around the fact that the Celtics have much more talent in their starting lineup, especially once Porzingis returns. They should outlast the Pacers, who will see this series as a free hit given how early this playoff success has come in their rebuild.

However, I expect Indiana to trouble Boston more than any side has in the playoffs so far. The Celtics’ 2023 run saw two seven-game series and an overly long six-game clash with Atlanta. They have a habit of slipping up at home too, so back the Celtics to progress in seven.

The Mavericks have been expected to fall to both the Clippers and the Thunder and they dealt with them in six games apiece. Dallas has a 4-0 record off the back of a defeat this postseason and Irving is 14-0 in closeout games in his career. This Dallas side will drop a couple of games, but I’m back them to progress in six.

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