NBA Finals Game 2 betting preview: Can C's steal another vs. favored Warriors?

Noah Graham / National Basketball Association / Getty

After an epic comeback in Game 1, the Celtics enter Sunday's Game 2 as underdogs once again to the host Warriors, who look to tie this series at one win apiece after Thursday's late collapse.

Here's how we're betting Game 2 of the NBA Finals:

Celtics @ Warriors (-4, 215.5), 8 p.m. ET

What the heck happened? After trailing by as many as 15 points in the third quarter, the Celtics rallied with the most lopsided fourth quarter in NBA Finals history, outscoring the Warriors by 24 points in the final period to steal Game 1 at Chase Center.

It wasn't as though the victory itself was a fluke, though, as Boston rode the same formula that carried the team to this stage in the first place. The Celtics fired away from deep - making nine of their first 11 threes in the quarter - and enjoyed contributions up and down the roster with five players scoring in double figures, led by an efficient Al Horford (26 points) and aggressive Jaylen Brown (24).

Ironically, the least productive of that bunch was Jayson Tatum (12), who finished 3-of-17 (17.6%) with just one made triple. That isn't to say he played poorly; his 13 assists were the most ever by a player in their NBA Finals debut, and it came against just two turnovers, which had been an issue for Tatum and this team as a whole.

The Warriors looked powerless as the Celtics rained threes down from every spot along the perimeter, and Golden State's shooters couldn't match wits against the NBA's top-ranked defense. After burying Boston with a flurry of threes (6-of-8) in the first quarter, Stephen Curry made just one of his final six attempts from deep and was limited to 13 points across the final three quarters.

The central question for Game 2: If Curry can't win it on his own, who will step up? Andrew Wiggins (20 points) and Klay Thompson (15) chipped in offensively but were frozen down the stretch, while Draymond Green (four) was a virtual zero the entire game on the offensive end. That won't cut it against these Celtics, who committed to Curry after that blistering first quarter and dared his teammates to make them pay. That's easier said than done given how effectively Boston's help defenders rotate and how easily they can switch actions along the perimeter.

Here's the good news for Golden State: This team rarely falters in consecutive games. The Warriors are 4-0 in these playoffs after a loss, winning the next one by an average of 14.5 points, and they're 19-12 against the spread (61.3%) in the Steve Kerr era following a postseason defeat.

The difference between those teams and this one? Most of those teams featured Kevin Durant, who could manufacture buckets one-on-one if the offense stagnated. This team simply doesn't have that weapon at its disposal, even as brilliant as Curry can be when he's cooking. He didn't look like a one-man wrecking crew in the fourth quarter when he scored just four points on 2-of-6 shooting against the Celtics' swarming defense.

Conventional wisdom says the Warriors bounce back in Game 2 - only two teams in Finals history have ever lost the first two at home, and Golden State was previously undefeated on its court before Thursday's loss. But history won't log any minutes Sunday, and it's hard to ignore what we saw with our own eyes in Game 1.

If Tatum can rediscover his shot Sunday - he's averaging 33.3 points this postseason after a game with fewer than 20 points - and the Celtics' defense locks into Thursday's late-game form, Boston will be the better team again Sunday. And with this group catching even more points than it did on Thursday, there's still plenty of value on the underdog.

Pick: Celtics +4

C Jackson Cowart is a sports betting writer at theScore. You can follow him on Twitter (@CJacksonCowart) or email him at cjackson.cowart@thescore.com.

Comments
NBA Finals Game 2 betting preview: Can C's steal another vs. favored Warriors?
  Got something to say? Leave a comment below!

Daily Newsletter

Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox