NBA predictions: Conference finals expert picks for Celtics vs. Pacers and Timberwolves vs. Mavericks (2024)

After two Game 7s on Sunday -- including one instant classic -- to conclude the second round, the conference finals are set in the 2024 NBA playoffs. In the East, it's the No. 1-seeded Boston Celtics vs. the sixth-seeded Pacers, who have crashed the party on something of a 2021 Hawks run. In the West, it's the No. 3 Timberwolves, who ensured we'll have a new champion for the sixth straight season by eliminating the Nuggets, against the No. 5 Mavericks.

Think about the young legacies starting to build here: By the end of June, one of Anthony Edwards (22 years old), Tyrese Haliburton (24 years old), Luka Doncic (25 years old) or Jayson Tatum (26 years old) will have their first championship. Every one of those guys would register as a younger first-time champion than the likes of LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O'Neal, Nikola Jokic and Dirk Nowitzki, among others.

So, who's it going to be? Well, we have to decide the conference finals first. And with that in mind, our expert picks are below.

Eastern Conference finals: Celtics vs. Pacers

Botkin: Celtics in 4.I don't think Indiana gets a game here. Too many weapons for Boston. Indiana is on a 2021 Hawks run where the bracket has broken perfectly for a surprise conference finals run over two injury-ravaged teams in the Bucks and Knicks, but the dream ends here. And it ends quickly.

Herbert: Celtics in 5.These are two amazing offensive teams, and it'll go longer than this if the Celtics aren't as sharp as they should be. Boston's defense is worlds better than Indiana's, though, and Joe Mazzula is going to make sure his team understands that everything starts with decision-making: If the Celtics take care of the ball and space the floor properly, they should be able to limit the Pacers in transition, where they're most dangerous.

Quinn: Celtics in 5.Game 7 was evidence of just how dynamic the Pacers can be when the shots are falling. The rest of the Knicks series shows how vulnerable they can be when they aren't. Even without Kristaps Porzingis, Boston is far stronger than the depleted Knicks were. The Celtics offer no hiding spots for Indiana's weaker defenders, and Boston scored 126 points per 100 possessions against Indiana this season. The Pacers will win a game on shooting alone, but they are outmatched in the series at large.

Ward-Henninger: Celtics in 6.Defense is going to be a major issue for Indiana, but I do think that the Pacers' ability to put up high point totals will help them against a Celtics team prone to an offensive clunker here and there. That being said, talent will win out, particularly if Kristaps Porzingis is able to return for the end of the series. It's been a tremendous run for Indiana, but it ends here.

Wimbish: Celtics in 6.The Pacers have benefited from the injury bug hitting both of their opponents to this point, and right now Porzingis is out for Boston. But the Celtics have enough firepower to get through Indiana even if KP doesn't play a single game this series. But I'll give the Pacers two games because their offense can catch fire.

NBA predictions: Conference finals expert picks for Celtics vs. Pacers and Timberwolves vs. Mavericks (11)

Brad Botkin

NBA predictions: Conference finals expert picks for Celtics vs. Pacers and Timberwolves vs. Mavericks (12)

James Herbert

NBA predictions: Conference finals expert picks for Celtics vs. Pacers and Timberwolves vs. Mavericks (13)

Sam Quinn

NBA predictions: Conference finals expert picks for Celtics vs. Pacers and Timberwolves vs. Mavericks (14)

Colin Ward-Henninger

NBA predictions: Conference finals expert picks for Celtics vs. Pacers and Timberwolves vs. Mavericks (15)

Jasmyn Wimbish

Timberwolves vs. Mavericks






Botkin: Timberwolves in 7.This feels like another coin flip, and in a series that close, I'll go with the awesome defense to prevail. Everything starts for Dallas with the creation of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, and the Wolves have waves of defenders to throw at those guys and waves of big bodies behind them. OKC had a lot of perimeter defense as well and had success limiting especially Irving as a scorer, but it opened up shooters and P.J. Washington burned them. One, I don't see Washington shooting like that again, and two, MInnesota is even better getting over screens and smothering ball handlers and might not have to help off shooters as much with such hard doubles.

Herbert: Timberwolves in 5. On one hand, the Mavericks weren't all that great on offense against OKC, and now they're going up against an even longer team that they can't bully. On the other hand, the Timberwolves weren't all that great on offense against Denver, and now they're going up against a team that just made the third-best offense in the league look disjointed. This is not an easy call, but I'm picking Minnesota because I'm more confident in its role players.

Quinn: Timberwolves in 7.This one's going to be a nail-biter. Oklahoma City threw doubles at Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving to try to force their teammates to beat them. Minnesota will probably try to defend them straight up at least earlier on, and they have defenders who can make them work. Dallas owned the paint last round. Minnesota is much, much bigger than Oklahoma City was. Derrick Jones Jr. will bother Anthony Edwards. Can Mike Conley take on added creation duties as he plays through an injury? In the end, I'm defaulting to home-court advantage. This one could go either way.

Ward-Henninger: Timberwolves in 7.It's hard to have watched how the Wolves were able to suffocate the defending champs and think that the Mavs, who have struggled offensively for much of the postseason, will be able to thrive. That being said, Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving are the type of singular talents who can continually burn even the greatest defenses. Part of the reason I picked against Minnesota in the last two rounds was because I didn't trust their clutch offense, and I'm still not sure I do, but I've been converted to the Church of Anthony Edwards, so I won't be picking against him again.

Wimbish: Mavericks in 7.The Wolves present a difficult matchup for Dallas, and they're gonna have a tough time getting points at the rim with Gobert and KAT looming. Say goodbye to all those lobs to Derrick Jones Jr., Daniel Gafford and Dereck Lively II. But I'm betting on their defense to cause problems as well, and I'm going with the duo of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving to be the more consistent stars.

NBA predictions: Conference finals expert picks for Celtics vs. Pacers and Timberwolves vs. Mavericks (2024)


Who is favored, the Celtics or the Mavericks? ›

The Celtics are a 6.5-point favorite over the Mavericks in NBA Playoffs odds provided by BetMGM Sportsbook. Boston is -250 on the moneyline. Dallas is +200.

Who is predicted to win the 2024 NBA Finals? ›

Boston Celtics

Who is favored to win the NBA finals? ›

Celtics favored to win Game 1 and NBA Finals series, but money is rolling in on the Mavericks - Yahoo Sports.

Who won the 2024 Eastern Conference finals in MVP? ›

Currently, Boston's Jayson Tatum is the betting favorite to be named Finals MVP at -105, while his teammate Jaylen Brown won the Eastern Conference finals MVP award on Monday.

Are the Celtics favored to win the series? ›

The Celtics opened as -225 favorites Thursday night at ESPN BET, while the Mavericks were listed as +185 underdogs. Jayson Tatum is the current betting favorite for Finals MVP at -120, with Luka Doncic (+200) and Jaylen Brown (+550) close behind.

Who is favored to win it all in the NBA? ›

Looking ahead to the NBA Finals in 2024, the Celtics are currently favored to win it all, at -225.

Who will win NBA MVP 2024? ›

Contributor. I write about the NBA, primarily through the lens of X's and O's. Nikola Jokic has joined a rarefied group of NBA legends by winning his third Most Valuable Player award.

Who is the number one team in the NBA? ›

The Celtics secure the No. 1 overall seed & the 76ers make the biggest jump in final survey of the regular season.

Who is favored to win the Western Conference NBA? ›

The Celtics have been among the favorites to win the 2024 NBA Finals for most of the season. Boston is on the verge of winning their 18th NBA title and is the early favorite to win next season's championship.

Who is most likely to win the NBA this season? ›

The Boston Celtics are overwhelming favorites to win the NBA Finals. The Celtics are -225 at BetMGM to beat the Dallas Mavericks after Dallas took down the Minnesota Timberwolves to win the Western Conference on Thursday night.

How often does the favored NBA team win? ›

Over the past five seasons, 67.01% of favorites have been successful in the NBA regular season. Home favorites have a slightly higher success rate than those on the road, with 68.66% of home favorites winning compared to 64.27% of those on the road.

What are the Lakers' chances of winning the championship? ›

The Lakers entered the season with +1200 odds to win the title. Their odds now sit at +4000 at FanDuel Sportsbook, following their recent form. Let's take a look at the current odds from FanDuel Sportsbook for the Lakers and James this season.

Who is favored to win the 2024 NBA finals? ›

June 3, 2024, at 6:14 p.m. LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Celtics are prohibitive favorites to win Thursday's Game 1 of the NBA Finals and odds are on Boston to hoist what would be its record 18th championship banner.

Why did Jaylen Brown win the MVP? ›

Brown was the focal point of that victory, scoring 29 points in Boston's comeback, and he led the Celtics in the series by averaging 29.75 points per game. Still, it wasn't the overall stats that clinched this award for Brown, but his biggest moments.

Who won the Larry Bird Trophy in 2024? ›

2024 NBA playoffs bad beat: Jaylen Brown edges Jayson Tatum for Larry Bird Trophy. When the Boston Celtics took a 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals against the Indiana Pacers, the most compelling wager for most bettors became who would win the Larry Bird Trophy for MVP of the series.

Who is the best player to ever play on the Mavericks? ›

Dirk Nowitzki is the longest-serving player in Mavericks history. Dirk Nowitzki, who played his entire NBA career with the Mavericks starting in 1998, is the franchise's longest-serving player. He played more games, played more minutes, scored more points, and recorded more rebounds than any other Maverick.

Who is the Celtics lucky? ›

Who is Lucky the Leprechaun Celtics mascot? A. Lucky was introduced by the Boston Celtics in 2003 and was portrayed by Damon Lee Blust. He left the duties in 2009 and Kristofer “Kit” Ackermann has been performing as Lucky since 2010.

Where are the NBA Finals in 2024? ›

The 2024 NBA Finals will begin on Thursday, June 6 at 8:30 p.m. ET at TD Garden.

Who did the Mavericks win the championship against? ›

Miami Heat


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