the Celts are clear favorites to win the 2023 NBA Finals in February. This is an important month for the Association as the trade deadline is set for February 9th and All-Star Weekend begins soon after.
Most teams have played more or less 50 games by this point in the season and clear rankings have formed in the SI Sportsbook Championship futures market, although the ranking after the top teams in both conferences is flat.
Boston, who have the best record in the league and lost in the 2022 Finals, is a +350 favorite at SI Sportsbook to win the title. Although there is a sizeable drop after the leader, the top three teams with the best odds are from the east dollar and nets are tied for the second shortest odds at +550. the nuggetswho are at the top of the west have the next best odds at +700 and the defending champion warrior round out the top 5 with +750 odds.
You will recall that the Celtics pulled off a miraculous turnaround after battling for the 500 in January a year ago. They went on a run, earned second place, and fought their way through the Eastern Conference playoffs to a Finals appearance, a fate that seemed unlikely just a few months earlier.
It may feel like there’s no such sleeper lurking in the league’s landscape after the top contenders, but stranger things have been happening.
Boston Celtics +350
Milwaukee Bucks +550
Brooklyn Nets +550
Denver Nuggets +700
Golden State Warriors +750
Memphis Grizzlies +850
Philly 76ers +1100
Los Angeles Clippers +1200
Phoenix Suns +1300
Cleveland Cavaliers +1400
New Orleans Pelicans +1700
Dallas Mavericks +2500
Miami Heat +3500
Los Angeles Lakers +4000
Toronto Birds of Prey +5000
Sacramento Kings +7500
Atlanta Hawks +8000
Portland Trailblazer +10000
Minnesota Timberwolves +10000
Chicago Bulls +22000
New York Knicks +22000
Utah Jazz +25000
Indiana Pacers +30000
Detroit Pistons +50000
Orlando Magic +50000
San Antonio Spurs +50000
Houston Rockets +50000
Oklahoma City Thunder +50000
Charlotte Hornet’s +50000
Washington Wizards +50000
The favourite: Celtics (+350)
Even with a first-year head coach, the Celtics have not experienced a hangover from their Finals loss. They were the best team in basketball that season, period, after making minor improvements to a roster that was two wins away from lifting the franchise’s 18th banner. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown both continued their uptrend, off-season trade acquisition Malcolm Brogdon is a contender for sixth Man of the Year and is sidelined despite injuries Markus Smart and Robert Williams III, the defense hasn’t slipped much.
Boston ranks fourth in defensive standings, fourth in offensive standings, and first in net standings. Only the Warriors are making more three-pointers per game, and the team is also in the top 10 for assists and rebounds per game. The core of the roster has plenty of playoff experience, as Tatum, Brown and Smart all made multiple trips to the Conference Finals together prior to the championship’s appearance a season ago when they went through perhaps the toughest road.
The Celtics are obviously the legitimate favourites. But it’s always a risk to bet on a team that’s so far ahead. There was value in the preseason when Golden State, not Boston, had the slimmest chance of winning. Joe Mazulla has his team headed for a 55+ win season, and those odds could only shrink as the postseason approaches. The C’s are the team to beat.
Value Bet: Philly 76ers (+1100)
This iteration of the 76er never made it past the second round. Despite back-to-back MVP runner-up campaigns Joel Embid, Philadelphia has fallen flat in the semifinals for consecutive seasons under coach Doc Rivers. trade for James Harden As of last year’s reporting date, the team hasn’t exaggerated, but there’s reason to believe this version of the Sixers has what it takes to make it big.
Philly ranks seventh in offense, fourth in defense, and fifth in net. It has the fourth-best record but seventh-best title chances. Embiid again leads the league with 33.6 points per game and makes another MVP case, and Harden’s 11 assists per game would be the best grade in basketball had he played enough games to qualify. Tyrese Maxey has emerged as the third star alongside Embiid and Harden following a postseason breakthrough and has joined in the offseason De’Anthony Melton has carved out a role in the starting XI.
The next few months will have much to say about the 76ers, who have the second toughest remaining schedule according to Tankathon.com. Philadelphia is 3-2 so far against the three other top 4 seeds in the east (Boston, Milwaukee and Brooklyn). It has to get past one or more of those teams in a seven-game streak when playoff time comes, which makes sticking to home field advantage crucial. With Embiid, the Sixers always have an argument for having the best player on the floor, which so often makes all the difference in April, May and June.
Sleeper: Kings (+7500)
Yes, it would be wild for them kings to not only end their 16-year NBA-record playoff drought, but also win the Larry O’Brien Trophy in the same season—and that’s probably not going to happen! But Sacramento has a better chance of winning the Finals than teams like them birds of prey, which are six games below .500. There is value here.
There are 15 teams considered more likely than the Kings to win the title, but only seven teams in the league (and only two in the West) have better records than Sacramento, which would have home field advantage in a first-round playoff series if the regular season ended today. Under coach Mike Brown, a native of Golden State, the Kings rank second in offense and seventh in net. The kicker is that they’re 21st in defensive standings, but that’s further evidence of their best offense in the league, which largely offsets that defensive deficit. Half-court defense is important in the playoffs when the game slows down, but only the Nuggets were better offensively than the beam team.
Sacramento has a case where two All-Stars are representing it in Salt Lake City: De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis. Fox is having the most efficient year of his career, and Sabonis leads the league in rebounds and his team in assists in his first full season with the team. Fourth overall winner Keegan Murray puts together a solid rookie season and offseason signings Malik Monk and Kevin Hurter both make important contributions to a team already three wins away from surpassing their 2022 total.
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