Most of the NBA betting discussions today will center around whether or not Boston can knot the Finals two wins apiece and beat the spread in the process.  But the wager menu for tonight's contest at TD Garden also includes various props, for both the two teams and individual players that will be involved. The Lakers and Celtics tip the contest at 9 p.m. Eastern tonight with ABC providing the broadcast.

The NBA Finals means high maximums offered around the globe on a game’s pointspread and ‘total.’  While sport books keep an eye on the big numbers, proposition betting can often open the door for some solid wagers.

Thursday’s Game 4 between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics is no exception.

Paul PierceTeam Totals

Some of the more popular prop bets in major sports are plays on an individual team’s ‘total.’  Factors affecting one team’s play on a given night can have more certainty than having a feel for a combined score among the two squads.

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Thursday’s NBA props board at TheGreek has Boston with a team ‘total’ of 96 ½, while the Lakers stand at 93 ½.

Boston’s Ray Allen had a horrific night of shooting in Tuesday’s Game 3, failing to hit a shot from field at 0-for-13.  Allen’s mates struggled at the foul line shooting a combined 14-of-22.

The Lakers drained only 2-of-15 shots from beyond the arc, while the Celtics connected on only 4-of-18.  Seven blocked shots occurred for Los Angeles, including a team-high three from Kobe Bryant, compared to only two from the Celtics.

Look for adjustments to be made by both rivals and to consider an ‘over’ for one team’s ‘total,’ who you feel will win the battle with more scoring.

Wagers on first quarter and early team scoring

Typical prop wagers will offer action on which team will make the first bucket, which player out of two will score more, and a variety of others that can be tough to predict.  However, some are offered on which team will score a certain number of points first.

Current propositions on the board for Game 4 include which team will get the first 10 points, the first 20 points, and the first 30 points of the game.  TheGreek has the Celtics favored in all three, with the logic that Boston comes out with more intensity at the start of the game while trailing the best-of-seven series, 2-1.

There are props for the team scoring the first 30 points as well as quarter lines. Odds for the first quarter’s money line stand with the Celtics as 140 favorites and Los Angeles as a 120 underdog.

Boston is at minus 130 to get the matchup’s first 30 points, while the Lakers are at plus 100.  Look to get the more favorable odds for an early-scoring wager by taking either the Celtics to win the first quarter or the Lakers to score the first 30 points.

Referee effects on prop betting

The high visibility of the NBA Finals puts the referees under pressure to call not just a fair game, but a fair series.

Game 3 saw Boston commit 27 personal fouls, while the Lakers were called for 20.  This was unlike the first two games of the series which had the Lakers closely out-fouling the Celtics, 28-26, in Game 1 and an even 29 fouls for each team called in Game 2.

With the crews tipping again at TD Garden for Game 4, look for the Celtics to possibly get more foul calls in their favor.  An early tone on this may be set, which disagrees with the odds of a prop bet posted at TheGreek.  The Montego Bay shop has the Lakers as 130 favorites to make six free throws before the Celtics (plus 100) carry that out.

Outlook on series betting

The Lakers are currently 340 favorites to win the series against Boston, who is a 280 underdog.  Betting on a series future instead of Game 4, individually, can have its advantages.

Boston is currently a minus 170 favorite in Game 4’s money line to defeat the Lakers straight up.  While cashing a bet on the Celtics for the individual duel will be an instant winner, the intensity of being down a game in the series can translate into less favorable odds.

Rather than risk at minus 170, having odds of plus 280 in your hand with a series tied 2-2 can open up greater profits from hedging chances down the line.