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Celtics, Nuggets on NBA FINALS Collision Course

Apr 11, 2024 EST

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The regular season is coming to an end, which means it’s time to get serious about looking at the odds and betting to win the NBA championship!

Here are the latest odds movement in BetMGM’s online sportsbook, as of April 10.

The Boston Celtics are the clear cut favs at +175 to win the NBA TITLE followed by the Denver Nuggets and LA Clippers. The Bucks have dropped down to 12-1.

Odds to Win NBA Championship, 2024

Boston Celtics +175
Denver Nuggets +310
Los Angeles Clippers +800
Milwaukee Bucks +1200
Oklahoma City Thunder +1600
Minnesota Timberwolves +2000
Philadelphia 76ers +2000
Dallas Mavericks +2200
Phoenix Suns +2200
Miami Heat +4000
Los Angeles Lakers +4000
Cleveland Cavaliers +4000
New York Knicks +5000
Golden State Warriors +5000
New Orleans Pelicans +8000
Sacramento Kings +15000
Indiana Pacers +15000
Orlando Magic +20000
Atlanta Hawks +100000
Chicago Bulls +100000

NBA Championship Odds: Celtics, Nuggets On Finals Collision Course

The Celtics and Nuggets have been the top favorites for the 2024 NBA championship since the market opened last June, attracting a high volume of tickets and an even higher volume of money.

Every NBA season has title favorites. But this season, Boston and Denver have gone beyond just the typical favorite status, dominating their conferences and attracting huge ticket counts and handle volume.

At -175, Boston is now a big, odds-on favorite to win the East. Milwaukee (+550) and Philadelphia (+850) are the only conference challengers shorter than +1000.

Denver (+145) is a smaller favorite in the Western Conference odds table, but only because the West is perceived to have more potential top-end contenders. The Clippers have the veteran core; the Suns have thermonuclear offense; the Thunder have incredible depth; the Timberwolves have topped the standings for most of the regular season. The Mavericks have the best record in the NBA over the final month of the regular season. The Lakers and Warriors are both lingering.

The fact that Denver is still a considerable favorite with so many capable teams in the conference – the Warriors are currently in 10th place! – says all you need to know about the strength of the Nuggets.

As a result, BetMGM’s top two championship liabilities are – you guessed it – the Nuggets and Celtics.

Celtics, Nuggets Have Become Overwhelming Favorites

The fact that the top two teams in the table represent such a big liability is a bit unusual. While favorites do typically collect large ticket counts, raw financial liability often falls to trendy underdogs with rich odds that attract a healthy minority of bettors.

Consider the Warriors, who are currently +5000 at BetMGM. If you’ve watched Golden State this year, you know the Warriors have plenty of problems. Klay Thompson has entered a new phase of his career. Andrew Wiggins has lost his mojo. Young pieces like Brandin Podziemski and Trayce Jackson-Davis are talented but raw.

This is probably not a team that can win a seven-game playoff series, let alone the NBA championship. But because of Steph Curry and the Warriors’ legacy, many bettors are willing to buy a long-shot ticket with a flawed roster and see what happens. This is a common formula for a top liability, and indeed, the Warriors are BetMGM’s third-highest liability in the championship market.

Large liabilities with wire-to-wire favorites like Boston and Denver only happen when a massive portion of the market backs those top one or two teams.

But indeed, with the playoffs approaching, Boston and Denver represent a combined 33.6% of tickets and 53.1% of all money bet. Sharps like them. Squares like them. Everyone likes them.

NBA Title Odds: Who Can Interrupt the Celtics-Nuggets Finals?

Naturally, there are bettors who don’t want to come in at the top of the market on Denver or Boston. That means trying to identify some value on other contending teams.

For many months, that team looked like it could be the Los Angeles Clippers. Paul George and Kawhi Leonard were healthy. James Harden was playing winning basketball. Russell Westbrook was a spark off the bench. From Nov. 15 to the All-Star break, the Clippers tied the Celtics with the fewest losses of any NBA team.

But the Clippers have faded over the last two months, leaving bettors worried the Clippers may not be the preferred challenger after all.

Some of the Clips’ issues may be injury-related. Westbrook broke his hand at the beginning of March and has only just recently returned to the bench. Whispers of fresh back problems are growing for Leonard.

But there are plenty of on-court reasons to doubt the Clippers, too. Los Angeles is 4-9 in its last 13 games against teams from the top six of the conference standings. Overall, the Clippers are 15-11 since the All-Star break and carry a 115.3 defensive rating over that stretch. That’s 23rd in the NBA.

The other likely challenger, at least according to the table, is Milwaukee at +1200. But Milwaukee is just 16-17 since hiring Doc Rivers to replace Adrian Griffin on Jan. 29, and its defensive rating (113) is below the median mark.

Milwaukee won the title in 2021 and took Boston to seven games in 2022. But this team has a fairly different build outside of the presence of Giannis Antetokounmpo, which means the Bucks’ lofty price (relative to other mid-table contenders) is mostly a tax on name brand and past accomplishments. And now that Giannis is hurt, bettors can’t even count on his stabilizing presence.

So far, the betting market hasn’t seen much from Milwaukee to believe in. And that leaves bettors with the unenviable task of sorting through a number of unproven teams for potential party crashers.

NBA Odds 2024: Lakers, Warriors, Heat All Struggle During Regular Season

Here’s an incredible stat for you: 15 of the last 16 NBA Finals have included either the Lakers, the Warriors, or the Heat.

The NBA has always been dominated by a handful of players and franchises, and it’s hard to tell the story of 20th-century professional basketball without those three teams.

But the 2024 season has not been a vintage time for these pillars of NBA basketball, with none of the three cracking better than +4000 in the current NBA odds market.

The Heat (+4000) have rarely cared about winning big in the regular season. Last year, they became the first No. 8 seed to make the NBA Finals in nearly 25 years. This year, the Heat have focused on reshaping their roster, working in rookie guard Jaime Jaquez (11.7 ppg), trading Kyle Lowry away and acquiring Terry Rozier from Charlotte.

The Lakers (+4000) are 29-24 since winning the In-Season Tournament on Dec. 11 and 15-9 since the All-Star Break. General Manager Rob Pelinka noted that the “right move wasn’t there” at the trade deadline, though Los Angeles was able to sign Spencer Dinwiddie after he cleared waivers.

The Warriors (+5000) are certainly aging out of their championship window. Steph Curry turned 36 in March, and Klay Thompson is transitioning into more of a role player. But Jonathan Kuminga is emerging as a key piece in San Francisco, averaging 19 points per game on 54.5% shooting since Jan. 1.

How Seriously Do Bettors Take Minnesota, Oklahoma City?

NBA championships are notoriously difficult for young teams to win, with many bettors correctly observing that most teams have to lose several times before they can learn how to win – if they ever do.

Thus, it’s unsurprising to learn that the most popular teams in BetMGM’s NBA championship odds market are the older veteran teams:

  • Denver Nuggets (17.9% tickets, 28.5% handle)
  • Boston Celtics (15.7% tickets, 24.6% handle)
  • Phoenix Suns (10.4% tickets, 6.5% handle)
  • Los Angeles Lakers (6.0% tickets, 5.2% handle)
  • Los Angeles Clippers (5.2% tickets, 6.3% handle)
  • Golden State Warriors (4.9% tickets, 3.7% handle)
  • Milwaukee Bucks (4.9% tickets, 3.9% handle)

Minnesota and OKC both lie outside of this top grouping of established contenders. Both teams have seen similar odds adjustments, moving down from opening numbers of +6600. However, both teams have only captured between 3% and 5% of the tickets in the championship market apiece.

In other words, the big odds adjustments are a reaction to their play on the court and positioning in the playoff conversation, not necessarily a rush of betting action.

Despite the fact that Minnesota has led the Western Conference for most of the season, very few bettors are interested in tickets backing the Thunder or Timberwolves.

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