The Boston Celtics have been one of the best teams in the NBA this season. A year after falling short in the finals against the Warriors, they’ve had the best record for much of the current campaign and seem poised to make another run at championship glory.
They have one of the better one-two punches in the league, with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown and supporting cast members like Marcus Smart that make them a threat no matter who has the ball.
They’ve slid out of the pole position since the All-Star Break. Does that mean they’re no longer the favorite to win it all this season?
For Bookmakers, the answer is quite simple. Before the slate of games for Tuesday, March 7, began, Caesars listed the Celtics at +310 to win the 2023 NBA Championship, ahead of both the Milwaukee Bucks (+450) and the Denver Nuggets (+700) It’s worth noting that Caesars Sportsbook Massachusetts Promo Code is available for those looking to place wagers on the Celtics’ championship aspirations. As for the team itself, despite slipping from their top spot in the standings, they still have a strong chance to make a deep postseason run, the two teams they trail in the standings. That’s largely because the record isn’t everything. Not all schedules are created equal, and much more goes into how sportsbooks set their lines than simple wins and losses. Here’s a look at the field to see Boston’s chances.
What are the Odds: Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks are on an absolute tear, winning 17 of their last 18 games, including a 16-game winning streak. I’ve kept a close eye on the betting lines from sportsbook to sportsbook throughout Milwaukee’s run to see if they’d blink and take the advantage away from the Celtics.
Boston has had the best title odds since last season ended with next to no variation. Even as the Bucks caught fire—even as they passed the Celtics in the standings—the bookies have remained firm with Boston as the favorite to win it all.
As long as Giannis Antetokounmpo is in his prime and has an excellent supporting cast around him, the Bucks will be a threat to winning it all. They’ve shown they can do it, and they’re getting hot at just the right time, steaming toward the playoffs and steamrolling everything in their path. It’s always dangerous when a team gets hot late in the season, but have they peaked too early?
The Celtics beat Milwaukee in seven games in last year’s semifinals: home court advantage isn’t the end-all, be-all, but with such a narrow margin between the two teams, the race for the one seed could get heated down the stretch.
What are the Odds: Denver Nuggets
The perfect example of why a record isn’t everything lies nearly 2000 miles west of Beantown. The Nuggets, like the Bucks, have passed the Celtics in the standings. They still don’t have the best odds to win their conference, trailing the Phoenix Suns (+375). While we’re never going to know exactly what goes into the lines that sportsbooks put out (the house isn’t foolish enough to reveal its secrets), we can offer speculation on some of the reasons that Vegas doesn’t love the Nuggets.
They’ve collapsed in the postseason in each of the past two seasons, raising questions about the sustainability of their style of play in the playoffs.
Nikola Jokic, like Antetokounmpo, is one of the best players in the world. As long as he’s around the Nuggets will have a chance—and don’t forget how many people said that the Bucks couldn’t win when it mattered in the days leading up to their 2021 championship win (much like the current Celtics’ core). That’s the beautiful (and nerve-wracking) thing about the NBA this year: unlike many previous seasons, there’s no clear-cut number one and a solid case to be made for or against each of these teams.
What are the Odds: Phoenix Suns
As mentioned previously, the Suns lead the Western Conference in odds to win the NBA Finals.
The Suns sit fourth in the Western Conference, trailing Denver by ten games. With 17 games to go in the regular season, they are not making that up (and leapfrogging the teams between them, too), barring an unmitigated disaster occurring.
The Suns hit a home run at the trade deadline, swinging superstar Kevin Durant from the Brooklyn Nets. The combination of Durant and Devin Booker gives them the best one-two punch in the league when healthy, a critical caveat for Durant these days. If he stays healthy, they could be on a collision course with Boston in the finals.
It wouldn’t be the first time Durant joined a team that needed help to get over the hump, although this isn’t a cut-and-dried case like the Warriors dynasty of the late 2010s.
Again, even with a middling playoff seed, the Suns are incredibly dangerous. Would anyone be surprised to see them win it all?