Best Bets for NBA Conference Finals and NBA Finals Futures

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NBA Finals best bets

The NBA playoffs are tantamount to a cleverly written – if barely believable at times – mystery/action screenplay.

There are stars, protagonists and perceived villains. And plenty of shocking twists and turns.

Baked in are the many markets to explore ways to monetize your basketball opinions, and we have a few of our own as it concerns the NBA conference finals and some futures bets on the NBA Finals.

Read on to find out what each remaining team can bring to the table and see if you can make it pay.

Western Conference Finals

Anthony Edwards
Image: Twitter/HoopCentral

The surprise matchup for the Western Conference title features the very young Minnesota Timberwolves against the very surprising Dallas Mavericks.

The Timberwolves just won’t die, and hanging that big “L” on the Denver Nuggets is making handicapping difficult.

One idea is certain: Whoever wins the West will be all but worn out by the time they make the NBA Finals – presumably against the heavily favored Boston Celtics.

A quick check of BetOnline markets shows several interesting options to invest in the NBA postseason. In a couple of cases, if you know how to bet on the NBA games, the strategy will be familiar, but a couple of unorthodox bets also stand out.

Timberwolves Outlook

Thursday’s Game 6 in Minnesota, in which the Timberwolves pummeled the defending champion Nuggets, startled the NBA community, and the Game 7 comeback Sunday in Denver stamped Minnesota as a legitimate title threat.

Minnesota is a complete basketball team when everyone is contributing.

Defense, as they say, always travels well. And Minnesota is the NBA’s No. 1-ranked defense.

Doubt that? The second half of Game 7 in Denver proved to everyone that length and a ferocious dedication can rescue a team.

Even a team that trailed by 20 points early in the third quarter.

Even a team whose star, Anthony Edwards, shot 6-24 in the deciding matchup.

Significant contributions from Karl-Anthony Towns and Naz Reid helped offset center Rudy Gobert’s foul troubles.

As we move into the conference finals, keep in mind that Gobert is the NBA Defensive Player of the Year and will provide all kinds of trouble in the paint against Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving and all who dare try and get to the rim.

That includes breakout rookie center Dereck Lively II, who grabbed 15 rebounds and was a +26 while he was on the floor during the Mavericks’ clinching win. He’ll have to be pretty special to be effective when Gobert is in the neighborhood.

Timberwolves bet: Minnesota, a -175 choice to win this series, has the ascending star Anthony Edwards. Sports bettors should take the 20 point discount and bet Edwards to win Western Conference finals MVP at -155 (BetOnline).

Mavericks Outlook

Luka Doncic
Image: Twitter/nbacentel

Dallas dispatched the Oklahoma City Thunder in six games, using two of the three best players in that series. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was Oklahoma City’s lone consistent threat, while Mavericks stars Doncic and Irving showed what experienced performers who are eager to be in the spotlight can do. Dallas has suddenly become a real team.

With Doncic, Irving and plenty of help eliminating the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Mavericks’ momentum and improving health are key reasons for optimism in the Western Conference finals series against the weary Timberwolves.

Entering Monday, most of the best online sportsbooks had the underdog Mavs +155 to win the West and +500 to take the NBA title.

A Mavs-Timberwolves Western Conference final brings an opportunity to invest in the Mavericks without investing in the whole team.

It’s clear a Dallas victory will be largely the result of Doncic using his elite vision to orchestrate an upset of the higher-seeded Timberwolves.

Mavericks bet: Western Conference finals MVP: Doncic at +185 (BetOnline).

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Eastern Conference Finals

Jayson Tatum
Image: Twitter/nba world

While the Nuggets and Timberwolves were sorting things, and the depleted New York Knicks were taking the Indiana Pacers all the way to a Game 7 on Sunday, the Celtics were just resting and waiting.

This series looks much easier to pick, even for those who aren’t certain about how to bet on basketball. For better or worse, this series could be a real mismatch with with well rested Celtics heavy favorites against the Pacers.

Pacers Outlook

Indiana travels to Boston for Game 1 Tuesday with well-earned house money.

Pacers star Tyrese Haliburton, an immensely talented leader, occasionally disappears on the court. Maybe this will be his opportunity to play every minute as if it’s his last minute.

He certainly has teammates who do that.

Myles Turner and Pascal Siakam are shining examples of what a playoff competitor can provide.

The Pacers punched their ticket to the NBA Eastern Conference finals with pace, tenacity and an incredible shooting performance in Game 7 on Sunday in New York City. But let’s be honest, their opponent was significantly compromised.

The New York Knicks were missing a huge portion of what they hoped would be a team that could contend for the NBA Finals.

For Indiana to compete, it must bring a 48-minute effort and more standout shooting. The Pacers set an NBA playoffs record by connecting on better than 68 percent of their field-goal attempts on Sunday.

Of course, being a big underdog means they have nothing to lose. And that means playing with reckless abandon. And that, hypothetically, could create troubles for the home team.

But we’re not dealing in hypotheticals: Boston figures to be very prepared for the Indiana onslaught.

Pacers bet: Indiana backers are eager to take on the championship favorites, and likely believe they can win at least two games. BetOnline offers +120 for the best-of-seven series to go 6+ games.

Celtics Outlook

Boston has steamrolled opponents during the playoffs – except when they appeared bored with the whole process, dropping a couple of games in Rounds 1 and 2 but rebounding to re-establish its alpha-dog presence quickly.

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown form a potent 1-2 punch, and injured center Kristaps Porzingis (at 7 feet 4) is expected to make his return during this series.

With defensive stalwart Jrue Holiday and breakout performer Derrick White at the guard positions, the Celtics don’t have a weakness when everyone is on the same page.

That figures to be the case, beginning with Tuesday night’s Game 1 in Boston.

We think the matchup will be similar to Boston’s Eastern semifinals series against the Cleveland Cavaliers, in which the Celtics occasionally fell asleep, but were able to fall back on their immense talent to cruise into the next round.

The Pacers faithful are clearly big believers in this team, but believing in unseating the Boston Celtics is like believing in the tooth fairy.

It just isn’t happening.

The Celtics have had plenty of time to diagnose the specific challenges they will be facing against the Pacers. Primarily, the Celtics employ a tenacious team defense and a pick-your-poison offense that, when clicking, will destroy an opponent and just about guarantee a double-digit victory.

Celtics bet: Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown can’t wait to start this series, and we believe in a nice parlay: Tatum 28+ points, Jaylen Brown 23+ points at BetOnline, collecting at odds of +127.

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NBA Finals Futures Bets

So how can one find value on the NBA Finals favorites? The Celtics were an underwhelming -130 to -155 at some of the best nba sportsbooks on Monday, so the natural bet – as opposed to the crowded room that includes Anthony Edwards, Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving in the West – is on the presumptive Finals MVP.

Even though Jayson Tatum believes in himself a bit more than Celtics fans – and NBA fans in general – he is a high-usage, high-volume scorer who will make the voters unable to choose anyone else.

Boston, at -155 (BetOnline) to win the NBA title as of Monday, isn’t quite the value you’re seeking.


If the Celtics do take care of the Pacers before putting down the battle-worn survivor from the Western Conference, Tatum is a clear favorite to win the MVP.

NBA Finals bet: Jayson Tatum, NBA Finals MVP at +110 (BetOnline).

What teams are in the NBA Conference Finals?

What are the available NBA Finals odds?

How many games are in the NBA Conference finals?


Jay Dieffenbach
Sports Betting Expert
Jay Dieffenbach
Sports Betting Expert

Jay is a Sports Betting Writer at, and has been working in US sports for more than 20 years. He's worked for Daily Racing Form, the Arizona Republic, The Athletic and FanDuel among other sports and gambling positions.