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NBA championship odds: Celtics are clear-cut favorites to win it all

After surviving a scare against the 76ers, Boston is once again the team to beat in NBA futures odds market

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum celebrates in the waning moments of Sunday’s 112-88 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 7 of an Eastern Conference playoff series. Boston is now the consensus betting favorite to win its 18th NBA championship. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum celebrates in the waning moments of Sunday’s 112-88 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 7 of an Eastern Conference playoff series. Boston is now the consensus betting favorite to win its 18th NBA championship. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)Read moreAdam Glanzman / Getty Images

When the NBA’s postseason tipped off a month ago, the Boston Celtics had the second shortest odds to win their 18th world title.

Then the favored Milwaukee Bucks were stunned by Miami in the first round, and Boston moved to the head of the pack.

That is, until five days ago when the Celtics were staring elimination in the eyes as they trailed the Philadelphia 76ers 3-2 in a best-of-7 Eastern Conference semifinal series.

But for the second straight year, Boston extended its season with a pair of do-or-die wins in Games 6 and 7 of a semifinal series. Now the franchise that has won the most championships in NBA history is once again favored to add another Larry O’Brien Trophy to its collection.

With the league’s conference finals set to commence Tuesday (Western) and Wednesday (Eastern), here’s a look at where the 2022-23 NBA championship odds stand, as well as where the betting action is trending at one sportsbook.

Odds updated as of 3:45 p.m. ET on May 15.

NBA championship odds: Celtics resume role as lead dog


Boston came within two victories of winning last year’s NBA title, taking a 2-1 series lead against the Golden State Warriors before losing the final three games.

Even though an internal scandal forced the Celtics to switch coaches prior to the start of this season, they still were among the preseason favorites to finish what they started last spring.

At BetMGM, Boston opened at +650 in odds to win the 2022-23 NBA title, right behind the Warriors (+550) and ahead of the Los Angeles Clippers and Brooklyn Nets (both +700), and Bucks (+800).

Those odds shrunk to +350 when the playoffs began, then dipped to +140 after the Celtics dusted the Atlanta Hawks in six games and Milwaukee fell to the Heat in five games.

When Boston outlasted the 76ers on Sunday — two days after the Heat punted the New York Knicks in a second-round matchup — it set up a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference finals, which the Celtics won in seven games.

The biggest difference between last year and this year: The Heat were the top seed in the East and are now the No. 8 seed. So this time around, Boston gets home-court advantage by virtue of being the East’s No. 2 seed.

NBA oddsmakers have the Celtics as a monster favorite to win the series, so it makes sense that they also are now an overwhelming favorite to win their first championship since 2008.

In fact, Boston is the odds-on chalk at FanDuel (-105) and near that at both Caesars Sportsbook (+105) and BetMGM (+110).

» READ MORE: Lakers vs. Nuggets prediction: Bet on a lengthy Western Conference finals

NBA championship odds: Lakers storm from back of the pack

The Denver Nuggets, who earned the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, sit behind the Celtics as the consensus second choice to win their first title since moving from the ABA to the NBA in 1976-77.

With two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic leading the way, the Nuggets opened the season at +1400 at BetMGM. Denver was tied with four other teams sporting the same +1400 odds — the 76ers, Heat, Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks.

The Nuggets’ odds dipped to +1000 before the playoffs started, then tumbled to +700 after they ousted the Minnesota Timberwolves in the opening round. Denver followed that by knocking out the Suns in six games and are now ranging from +230 to +240 to win it all.

The Lakers, meanwhile, were sitting at +2200 to win their second NBA championship in four years. After a dismal start to the season, those odds ballooned to as high as +20000 (200-to-1) in November at at least one shop.

However, a roster shakeup around the NBA All-Star break and subsequent late-season surge got the Lakers into the league’s play-in tournament.

From there, LeBron James, Anthony Davis and their teammates took care of business. After beating Minnesota in a play-in game, they upset the higher-seeded Memphis Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors.

Now the Lakers’ head into their Western Conference finals series against Denver with NBA title odds as low as +300 at BetMGM and Caesars Sportsbook.

Because many bettors took an NBA futures flier on Los Angeles back when it got off to a 2-10 start, sportsbook operators across the land are now crossing their fingers that the Lakers aren’t the last team standing.

» READ MORE: Conference finals MVP prediction: Why LeBron James will add another trophy to his collection

NBA championship odds: Tracking the action

Among the four teams still standing, the Nuggets and Celtics have attracted the most wagering action at BetMGM. Both are first and second in terms of ticket count and handle.

Denver leads the way in number of bets (14.8%), while Boston is first in dollars wagered (17.2%). The teams also split second place in both categories, with the Celtics (12.8%) second in tickets and the Nuggets (15.1%) second in handle.

The Lakers are fifth both in wagers (8.8%) and cash (9.2%). In addition to Boston and Denver, they trail since-eliminated Golden State (9.8% tickets; 14.1% money) and Phoenix (11.2% tickets; 12.2% money).

However, thanks to an accumulation of long-shot wagers, L.A. is right behind Denver when it comes to BetMGM’s biggest liabilities.

As for the Heat, their current NBA title odds are roughly the same as their opening odds. And even though those odds stretched out to +12500 prior to the start of the playoffs, bettors haven’t been hitting Miami hard.

At BetMGM, the Heat are eighth in ticket count (3.7%) and ninth in handle (2.5%).

In other words, if Miami can somehow win a fourth NBA title, sportsbook bosses would be happy to ship a box of cigars and a case of expensive champagne to South Beach.

» READ MORE: Full sports betting coverage from The Philadelphia Inquirer

The Inquirer is not an online gambling operator, or a gambling site. We provide this information about sports betting for entertainment purposes only.