Winning Game 1 of the NBA Finals doesn’t guarantee a championship.

But it beats losing Game 1, according to 77 years of Finals data.

Teams that win Game 1 also win the title 70.1% of the time. The team that wins Game 1 at home wins the series 78% of the time and the team that wins Game 1 on the road wins the series 44.4% of the time, though that has happened just 18 times.

Game 1 is important between the Dallas Mavericks and Boston Celtics.

Who takes Game 1 and takes the first step toward the title? Here are odds and USA TODAY Sports staff predictions for Game 1:

NBA Finals Game 1 Mavericks-Celtics predictions

The Dallas Mavericks' Luka Doncic (77) looks to pass the ball during a game against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on March 1, 2024.

Scooby Axson, USA TODAY

Celtics 116, Mavericks 105

Mike Freeman, USA TODAY

Mavericks 118, Celtics 110

Lindsay Schnell, USA TODAY

Celtics 108, Mavericks 101

Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY

Celtics 115, Mavericks 109

(Series predictions from USA TODAY staffers)

Why the Celtics will win Game 1

The collective experience, the best starting five in the league, the No. 1 offense led by Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, and the No. 2 defense led by Jrue Holiday and Derrick White will be the difference for Boston in Game 1.

Why the Mavericks will win Game 1

Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving are on a roll offensively, and the Mavs’ execution against three 50-win opponents in the West playoffs has prepared them for this moment. And they are a team that is 7-2 on the road in this year’s playoffs.

NBA Finals Game 1 odds Mavericks-Celtics

Odds via BetMGM:


Mavericks: +200

Celtics: -250


Celtics: -6.5


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Over 214.5: -110

Under 214.5: -110

How to watch Game 1 of the NBA Finals

Game 1 of Mavericks-Celtics is Thursday, June 6 on ABC at 8:30 p.m. ET.

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