For the first time since 2008, neither preseason conference favorite will participate in the NBA Finals. The Boston Celtics will look to become the biggest preseason long shot to win the NBA title, as they lack a single player with Finals experience. Meanwhile, the Golden State Warriors are favored for the 24th straight playoff series and are looking for their fourth title under coach Steve Kerr.
Despite their differences in recent playoff history, on paper, this matchup is tied for the closest series price we've had in any NBA Finals in the past 35 seasons.
Boston (50-1) would be the biggest long shot to win the NBA title based on preseason odds in the past 35 seasons. The Celtics are the third-biggest long shot in the past 35 seasons to reach the NBA Finals, behind the 2020 Heat (75-1) and 2002 Nets (60-1), both of whom lost in the Finals. The biggest preseason long shot in that span to win the NBA title was the 2015 Warriors (28-1). This year's Warriors were 10-1 entering the season.
The Celtics are 8-1 against the spread and 7-2 outright on the road this postseason. They are 5-4 outright and 4-5 ATS at home, alternating covers in each game.
The Celtics are 20-4 ATS in their past 24 road games, including the regular season. They are 9-1 ATS in their past 10 games as a road underdog dating to the regular season.
The Celtics have covered eight of the past nine road meetings at Golden State, including going 7-1 ATS against Kerr. Nine of the past 10 meetings at Golden State went under the total, including seven straight.
Kerr is 3-11-2 ATS in his career against the Celtics.
The Celtics are 24-13 ATS after a loss this season. They are 6-0 outright and ATS after a loss this postseason.
The Warriors are 9-0 outright and 7-2 ATS at home this postseason. They are 3-4 outright and 2-5 ATS on the road.
As of Wednesday, the Warriors were -155 favorites and the Celtics were +135 underdogs. That ties the closest series price in the NBA Finals in the past 15 seasons (the 2014 San Antonio Spurs were also -155 against the Heat).
This is the 24th consecutive playoff series in which the Warriors have been favored, the longest streak by any team in the past 35 seasons. They have been favored in all 24 playoff series under Kerr, including this series.
Underdogs have won two of the past three NBA Finals series (2021 Bucks: +160, 2019 Raptors: +230).
This is the ninth consecutive season the Western Conference winner has been favored in the NBA Finals. Since Michael Jordan left the Chicago Bulls after winning the 1998 NBA title, only two Eastern Conference teams have been favored in the NBA Finals (2011 and 2013 Heat).
This is the first time since 2008 that neither preseason conference favorite reached the NBA Finals. The Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers entered the season as the two favorites. Neither won a playoff game.
Since 2015, home favorites are 16-10 ATS in the NBA Finals (excluding the 2020 bubble).
Favorites are 45-35 ATS this postseason. Unders are 46-32-2.
Individual game notes
Favorites are 15-2 ATS in Game 1 of the NBA Finals (16-1 outright) since 2005. The only outright upset over that span came by the Spurs (+5) in 2013 against the Heat. They are 7-1 ATS in the past eight Finals.
Underdogs are 18-11-1 ATS in Game 2 in the past 30 NBA Finals.
Game 4 unders are 7-1 in the past eight seasons and 15-4 in the past 19 NBA Finals.
All five Game 7s in the past 30 NBA Finals went under the total.
Odds from Caesars Sportsbook and research from SportsOddsHistory.com were used in this report.