NBA Championship Favorites 2022-23: Boston Firmly on Top, Brooklyn Remain Contenders
The 2022-23 NBA regular season is winding down, with the All-Star break approaching and most teams already past the 50-game mark. Last year's finalist, Boston, continues to lead the way as the favorite to win the World Championship, the franchise's first since 2008 and 18th overall. However, the Celtics face stiff competition from fellow Eastern Conference Teams, a resurgent Milwaukee Bucks, and the drama-free Brooklyn Nets.
Elsewhere, defending champions Golden State Warriors have struggled to replicate their title-winning form but should not be counted out in the postseason. The Denver Nuggets are sitting pretty comfortably atop the Western Conference, led by MVP frontrunner Nikola Jokic. And what a season the Sacramento Kings are having!
There hasn't been much change at the top of the odds table in the past few weeks. Nevertheless, seeing how things shake up with just over 30 games left to play will be interesting.
Here's what the current NBA live odds look like on FanDuel sportsbook
Boston Celtics +390
Boston put the world on notice last season en route to their finals appearance. The Cs swept KD and Kyrie's Brooklyn Nets, took down former champions Milwaukee Bucks after seven games, and weathered the storm of the No. 1 seed Miami Heat to claim the Western Conference title. They eventually fell short to Steph Curry's Golden State Warriors in the finals, but that was quite a shift for a team who had struggled in the first half of the regular season.
Perhaps, the Celtics' biggest problems coming into the new season were the lack of an additional playmaking guard and a solid sixth man, but the addition of Malcom Brogdon has put all that to bed.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are, without a doubt, the hottest offensive pair in the NBA right now and have led the Celtics to an offensive rating of 116.6 over the course of 51 games, trailing only the Nuggets. Tatum is averaging 31.1 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game (all career highs), while Brown is averaging career-high 27 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. The former was named an All-star starter for the first time last week and is among the front-runners for this year's MVP award.
Brooklyn Nets +600
Brooklyn was poised to be the team to beat when they acquired Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. However, the Nets have failed to live up to the hype so far, mainly due to the off-court Kyrie drama and Kevin Durant's injury in crucial moments of the season.
Yet, it's hard to count this team out for the simple fact that we know what the team is capable of when both Kyrie and KD play together consistently. We saw it happen, finally.
The Nets went on a tear with Durant and Irving on the floor, winning 18 of their last 20 games. Durant averaged almost 30 points, seven rebounds, and four assists on 58% FG and 41% 3PT and was in the MVP conversation during that span. Unfortunately, disaster struck again as KD tore his MCL against Miami.
Since Durant's absence, Irving has managed to keep the team fairly afloat with four wins in their last ten games. With Durant poised to make a comeback after the All-Star break, and in the absence of another off-court drama, this team could vie for a top-2 seed in the East and deliver in the postseason.
Milwaukee Bucks +600
Milwaukee's 2021-22 playoff run was, without a doubt, the biggest "what if" of the postseason. The Bucks took the Celtics to seven games without All-star Kris Middleton, thanks to Jrue Holiday's crucial defensive displays and, most importantly, Giannis Antetokounmpo's insane output. The Greek Freak became the first player to register 200 points, 100 rebounds, and 50 assists in a playoff series.
Chances are that the Bucks would've made the conference finals and could probably have given Golden State a run for their money in the finals had Middleton featured against the eventual runner-ups.
The Bucks resumed the 2022-23 season, again without Middleton, but have managed to remain a top-three team in the Eastern Conference, with just two games away from the top seed. However, with Middleton back in the squad and slowly regaining his championship form, the Bucks look like the scariest team to face in the postseason.
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