It’s fair to say that the first half of the season was kind to the Boston Celtics. With the best record in the NBA at 42-17, they sit atop the Eastern Conference with a 0.5-game lead over Milwaukee who rode a 12-game winning streak to All-Star Weekend.
Joe Mazzulla’s first season in charge has gone swimmingly after the shocking Ime Udoka dismissal, and Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum have each taken yet another step forward as the C’s try to make it back to the Finals
The soon-arriving Massachusetts sportsbooks have set the odds for the rest of the NBA season, and things are looking up. With the second half of the season underway, let’s see what the bookmakers have to say about the Celts.
Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook
Celtics Odds to Win NBA Finals (+280, 1st)
With the best record in the NBA, it makes sense that Boston would be the favorite to win it all, but the advantage they have over their rivals is a bit shocking. The Bucks (+430) and Suns (+450) round out the top three favorites.
Milwaukee was red-hot to close out the first half, with a 12-game winning streak. A proven, championship-winning core of Giannis Antetokeumpo, Jrue Holiday, and Khris Middleton will make them a tough out in the playoffs, despite the Celts knocking them off last season.
On the other hand, the Phoenix Suns were having a bit of a disappointing start and only sit at fifth in the West. However, the recent addition of Kevin Durant will certainly make them a force to be reckoned with for any team in the league.
Despite the generosity of oddsmakers, it will be no easy path for the Celtics to capture the championship this season.
Celtics Odds to Win Eastern Conference (+115, 1st)
When it comes to the East, it’s a bit of a two-horse race between Boston and Milwaukee (+185). With just a half-game separating the two in the standings, this makes sense.
The Philadelphia 76ers are the only other real contenders, sitting third at +650 and only three games back in the standings. Their core duo of James Harden and Joel Embiid have really started to click and they’re looking more dangerous than they have in recent years.
However, a tough schedule during the home stretch will likely prevent Philly from capturing the ever-important homecourt advantage from the Bucks or Celtics and make their road to the Finals tough one, having to win two playoff series on the road.
Jayson Tatum MVP Odds (+1800, 4th)
This is a bit of a low-stakes fun one. Fresh off of an All-Star MVP, Jayson Tatum sits 4th in the MVP race, according to FanDuel. Nikola Jokic (-240), Joel Embiid (+600), and Giannis (+700) are all currently ahead of him, with Luka Doncic (+2100) following closely.
Despite our biases here, Tatum would need to have a nuclear home stretch to win the award.
Jokic alone seems destined to capture his third-straight MVP while averaging a triple-double, but even if he fell off the other four players contending for the award are still formidable, to say the least.
Instead, Tatum will likely have to settle for the All-Star Game MVP and second All-NBA Forst Team selection.