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NBA Title Odds: Road Runs Through Boston

We are at the All-Star break for the 2023-24 season, and the race for the NBA Finals is starting to heat up. While the NBA lines champions have not changed much over the season, it is still worth checking in with the favorites. With the trade deadline having passed, these teams seem to be the clear-cut favorites, withstanding any potential injuries (knock on wood).


NBA Title Odds: Road Runs Through Boston
Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics | Sarah Stier/Getty Images/AFP

1. Boston Celtics (+300)

It is easy to see why the Boston Celtics are favorites in betting odds on the NBA Finals. Going into the All-Star break, the Celtics have the best record in the league, 43-17 while holding a six-game lead in the Eastern Conference.

The stats also show that the Celtics are one of the best teams in the league. They are first in net rating (10.2), first in offensive rating (121.7) and third in defensive rating (111.5). On top of that, Boston dismantled the Brooklyn Nets at home heading into the break, winning 136-86.

Boston also has the players to back up its status within the league. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have been selected for the All-Star Game while there were solid cases for Kristaps Porziņģis and Derrick White to make it.

Cementing the Celtics’ position within the East and being a definite NBA Finals contender is the team’s recent history. Last season, the Celtics were eliminated in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, a game away from the NBA Finals. The previous season, they were in the NBA Finals. Finally, in 2019-20, Boston was again in the East Finals, facing the Heat, but lost in six games.

2. Denver Nuggets (+450)

The reigning NBA champions, the Denver Nuggets were tied as the favorites with the Celtics to start the season. They have slightly slipped behind the team leading in the Eastern Conference.

There does seem to be some logic behind the Nuggets slipping in NBA odds. Now, heading into the break, Denver is outside the top 10 in offensive and defensive rating, ranking 13th (117.9) and 11th (114.7). The Nuggets are still a team playing well, just not up to the previous standards, with their net rating being ranked 10th (3.2).

That is compared to last season when the reigning champions were fifth in offensive rating and sixth in net rating. Some of that could be because young and inexperienced players have replaced some key pieces that left in the offseason. Christian Braun has far from made the expected leap many NBA predictions expected while Peyton Watson has struggled to find consistency. Both are second-year players that should be crucial to a deep playoff run.

However, even with the Nuggets currently in fourth in the Western Conference after finishing first last season, it is hard to count them out. They still have the favorite to win MVPNikola Jokić is averaging 26.1 points, 12.0 rebounds and 8.9 assists. In a playoff series, he has proven to have the ability to win a championship, and that can’t be discounted.

3. Los Angeles Clippers (+450)

Talking about the Los Angeles Clippers as one of the favorites to win the NBA Finals almost seems to be going against most logic. However, here we are, with the Clippers tied with the reigning NBA champions with the second-best odds of winning a title.

NBA betting will always hesitate toward the Kawhi Leonard and Paul George era of the Clippers because nothing has ever worked out for them. Whether it was blowing a 3-1 to the Nuggets in the 2020 playoffs or making the West finals in 2021 but couldn’t keep up because of injuries, nothing has truly worked. Not to mention 2021-22 and 2022-23, when injuries again played a massive factor in the Clippers missing the playoffs or exiting in the first round.

However, this team is entirely different if you put everything else behind you. The Clippers are third in offensive rating (120.6) and 13th in defensive rating (114.9), leading to the fifth-best net rating (5.7). When the defense eventually improves, which is if the team stays healthy, the Clippers could be in the top 10 in offensive and defensive rating heading into the playoffs.

James Harden and Russell Westbrook are big reasons why the team feels so different from past seasons. You might be thinking: How do two players who have historically struggled in the playoffs, despite being MVPs, make the Clippers Finals contenders?

Well, here is the answer. One of the most significant schematic issues the Clippers have had since acquiring Leonard and George in 2019 was the lack of a facilitating point guard. Now, Los Angeles has two. Harden leads the team in assists per game (8.4) while Westbrook comes off the bench to lead the second unit. Furthermore, Westbrook’s ability to set aside his pride and come off the bench has been massive for team morale and overall schematic fit.

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4. Milwaukee Bucks (+600)

The final team on this list of the sportsbooks favorites to win the NBA Finals is the Milwaukee Bucks. However, heading into the All-Star break, this almost seems like a long shot compared to the other three teams.

For one, despite going 30-13, first-year head coach Adrian Griffin was fired after 43 games. There have been reports that he lost the locker room, but on top of that, the Bucks’ defense was terrible. They had the 10th-worst defense rating (116.8) during Griffin’s tenure, balanced by the second-highest offensive rating (120.6) led by All-Stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard.

However, those stats are from the 43 games that Griffin coached. Doc Rivers replaced Griffin to bring in some “veteran coaching leadership,” but that might backfire. While Rivers has been coaching for a long time and won an NBA title, he also has the most playoff collapses in history. That might not be the head coach the Bucks want to lead them to another NBA championship with Antetokounmpo at the helm. Rivers is off to a rough start with a 3-6 record since taking over.

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Questions of the Day

Who is a team that could challenge for the NBA Finals?

In the East, it is pretty cut and dry when it comes to competition, but the West is packed with talented teams. If there is a surprise, it will come from that conference.

What teams have the next-best NBA Finals odds after the top four teams?

The Phoenix Suns have the fifth-best odds to win the NBA Finals at +1400.

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