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Celtics Fire To Start NBA Finals, Lakers Eye Hurley & Topić’s Troubles

The Boston Celtics caught fire to start the NBA Finals, but Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving can only improve for Game 2. Meanwhile, the Lakers are on the hunt for a new head coach, and Topić leads the draft discussion for the week.

Celtics Take Game 1

The Boston Celtics went into Game 1 as $1.40 favourites to win the NBA championship. But following their dismantling of the Dallas Mavericks in the series opener, their odds have shortened further to $1.20.

Boston led by 29 points in the second quarter on their way to a 107-89 win. While Dallas managed to pull it to within eight in the third quarter, the Celtics put on the afterburners to rattle off a 14-0 run out of a timeout to put the game beyond doubt.

Most impressive is the fact Jayson Tatum didn’t have to dominate. He scored 16 points while dragging down 11 rebounds and handing out five assists. There is an argument for him needing to do more as the Mavericks made their comeback, but Boston held on and reasserted their dominance by the end. Jaylen Brown contributed 22 points before Mavericks coach Jason Kidd labeled him as the Celtics’ “best player.”

But it was Kristaps Porzingis who impressed most. Returning from a lengthy stint on the sidelines, Porzingis did it all for the Celtics. He produced everything you’d have hoped to see from him in Game 1 of the NBA Finals following an injury. He had an impact on both ends of the floor by knocking down jumpers and protecting the rim. With 11 points and three blocks in the first seven minutes, Porzingis left little doubt that he’s fit and firing for the finals.

Boston did as Boston does. They shot 42 times from beyond the arc, knocking them down at a 38% clip. Their 27 attempts in the first half of Game 1 is more than the 1984 Celtics took in their seven-game Finals series (24).

While the Celtics performed as per the program, Dallas struggled.

Luka Doncic scored 30 points and played a leading role in the Mavericks rallying back. However, he finished with only one assist – tying his season-low. He averaged 9.8 assists per game throughout the NBA regular season and managed at least five in every playoff game ahead of the finals. Beside him in the backcourt, Kyrie Irving scored only 12 points while missing all five of his three-point attempts. He never put fear into the Celtics. In response, they played him in single coverage and still managed to keep a lid on him as a scorer and facilitator (2 assists).

It all went wrong for the Mavericks in Game 1. For Dallas to come back and win this series as $4.10 underdogs, Doncic needs to be more than a scorer, and Irving must take some of the heat off their leading man. How they bounce back in Game 2 as $2.90 and +6.5 underdogs will tell us a lot about how the rest of this series will look.

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NBA Finals Markets

The Celtics are significant $1.20 favourites to win the series with a 4-1 victory at the shortest price of $3.40. Although, some will look at their $5.20 to sweep the series following their dominance in Game 1.

Expecting an improvement from the Mavericks, their +2.5 series handicap is worth exploring. So, too, is the prospect of winning two games at home to at least make it 4-2 ($5.30) should the Celtics go on with it.

The general feeling has been that should the Mavericks win the NBA Finals, they’ll need six ($8.25) or seven games ($8.50) to do it. They’ve made things difficult with how far off they looked in Game 1. However, Doncic and Irving can’t be much worse as a duo. They will combine for more than three assists to get the rest of the team more involved.

Regardless of the winner and given the format of the NBA Finals, five games is the shortest price in the Total Games market at $3.10, with seven only slightly behind on the second line of betting at $3.20.

Lakers Search For A Coach

It doesn’t matter the time of year or how they perform on the court; the Los Angeles Lakers are always a talking point.

The NBA Finals might be in full swing, but the Lakers search for a new head coach is playing out in the media and occupying plenty of headlines.

‘Lakers zeroing in on JJ Redick as front-runner to be next coach’

It looked for a moment like JJ Redick would walk into the job. He was the first to have a face-to-face meeting with the Lakers and appeared to beat out then-candidate James Borrego. Despite never coaching above youth level and spending more of his time as a colour commentator and podcaster, the Lakers are said to be “infatuated” with Redick. He undoubtedly has the knowledge to contribute as a coach. But with no experience coaching men, does he have the ability to not only take on LeBron James, but navigate the path following his retirement?

‘Lakers preparing massive offer to UConn’s Dan Hurley’

Many put Redick’s involvement with NBA Finals coverage as the reason why his hiring has yet to be announced. However, Dan Hurley has since become a candidate for the position.

The back-to-back NCAA national champion fits the bill as Lakers head coach. He has the tactical acumen to stimulate James and a history of player development that lends itself to facilitating the post-James era. Unlike Redick, he has a lengthy and succesful career as a coach.

Also in his favour: Here’s LeBron James hyping up Hurley while commenting on a podcast hosted by Redick, who James now also has a podcast with…

Hurley is more than likely the better fit, but the Lakers make strange decisions sometimes. They become obsessed with the bright lights, and Redick’s star power might be enough to get him over the line.

Tough Week For Topić

Nikola Topić featured in the NBA Draft Combine this week but has only seen his draft stock tank as a result. The 18-year-old entered as an exciting prospect. He last played for Crvena zvezda in the Adriatic League. That came in Game 1 of the Adriatic League playoff finals on May 13 after recovering from a knee injury that sidelined him for four months. He reinjured his knee in Game 1 and it has since been established that he has a partially torn ACL.

This all comes after he fall significantly short of his expected measurements.

Topić was never going No. 1 in the NBA Draft ($176). Alexandre Sarr remains as the $1.62 favourite while Zaccharie Risacher gains steam on the second line of betting at $2.50. Still, it will be interesting to see where this recent news sees Topić fall out of the Top 10.

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