Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics are NBA Championship Favorites at Postseason Start

Posted on: April 15, 2023, 07:58h. 

Last updated on: April 17, 2023, 01:24h.

The 2023 NBA Playoffs tip-off  on Saturday with 16 teams in the hunt for the title. The Milwaukee Bucks are the consensus favorite to win the 2022-23 NBA championship at +265 odds, according to DraftKings. The Boston Celtics, last postseason’s runner-up, are right behind the Bucks at +310 odds.

Bucks Celtics
Milwaukee Bucks center Giannis Antetokounmpo is swarmed by a trio of defenders from the Boston Celtics at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee. (Image: USA Today Sports)

The defending champion Golden State Warriors are +900 odds to win the championship in back-to-back seasons. They begin the playoffs as the fifth-highest team on the board as the #6 seed in the Western Conference.

NBA Championship Odds 4/15/2023
Milwaukee Bucks +265
Boston Celtics +310
Phoenix Suns +425
Philadelphia 76ers +1000
Golden State Warriors +900
Denver Nuggets +1100
LA Lakers +1600
Memphis Grizzlies +2000
LA Clippers +5000
Cleveland Cavs +4500
Sacramento Kings +8000
New York Knicks +12000
Miami Heat +25000
Minnesota Timberwolves +25000
Atlanta Hawks +25000
Brooklyn Nets +60000

The Phoenix Suns acquired superstar forward Kevin Durant at the trade deadline, and they became a popular pick to win the title. The Suns saw a tremendous boost in their futures, and they’re now the outright favorite to win the Western Conference at +180 odds. You can also back the Suns at +425 odds to win the championship as the third-highest team on the NBA futures board.

Celtics: Title Favorites for 19 Weeks

The Celtics won the Eastern Conference last season, but were denied a championship by the Warriors in the 2022 NBA Finals. The Celtics underwent a coaching change in the preseason because of a scandal involving Ime Udoka. Assistant coach Joe Mazzulla admirably filled the role as new head coach and the Celtics didn’t miss a beat.

The Celtics were the hottest team in the first half of the season, thanks to one of the most efficient offenses in the history in the NBA. They hit a rough patch in the second half of the season while shooting guard Jaylen Brown struggled with injuries. The Celtics still secured the #2 seed in the east, and they’re on an eventual collision course with the Bucks in the conference final.

In the preseason, the Celtics were among the three cofavorites at +600 odds to win the championship. The Celtics were the betting favorite or co-favorite to win the championship during 19 of the first 21 weeks of the season. You can back the Celtics to win the title at +310 odds right now as the second-highest team on the futures board.

Bucks: Seek Second Title Since 2021

The Bucks are on a specific mission to win a second championship in the last three seasons. An injury to forward Khris Middleton derailed their quest to repeat last postseason, and they were upended in the Eastern Conference semifinals by the Celtics in seven games.

The Bucks enter this year’s playoffs with a healthy squad, and Giannis “Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo had one of his best statistical seasons of his illustrious career by averaging 31.1 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 5.7 assists per game.

The Bucks were a brief favorite to win the title early in the season at +550 odds when they jumped ahead of the Celtics. But they spent the majority of the season as the second favorite on the board.

With less than a month to go in the regular season, the Bucks emerged as the new title favorite at +330 odds. Despite a tough fight with the Celtics, the Bucks locked up the #1 seed in the east and finished the season with the best record in the NBA at 58-24. With the NBA playoffs about to begin, the Bucks are the outright favorite to win the championship at +265 odds.

If you follow the money, it’s a two-way race among Eastern Conference contenders between the Bucks and Celtics. The Philadelphia 76ers are the #3 seed in the East, and fourth overall on the futures board at +1000 odds to win the championship. The 76ers are followed by the #4 Cleveland Cavs (+4500), #5 New York Knicks (+12000), #6 Miami Heat (+25000), #7 Atlanta Hawks (+25000), and #8 Brooklyn Nets (+60000).

Western Conference: Suns, Warriors Lead the Tight Pack

The Suns saw their championship odds jump from +1800 to +450 after the acquisition of Kevin Durant from the Brooklyn Nets prior to the trade deadline.

Once the Suns added Durant, they became the team to beat from the Western Conference. The prevailing thought is that the Suns will square off against the Bucks or Celtics in the 2023 NBA Finals. You can back them right now at +425 odds, according to DraftKings.

The Warriors are a team that’s built to peak in the postseason. They survived a bumpy regular season that began with a blowup between forward Draymond Green and sixth man Jordan Poole. A media circus ensued, but the Warriors quickly put the incident behind them. They were more worried about the long-term health of Steph Curry, who sustained a left shoulder injury and lower leg injury this season. Curry insists he’s 100% healthy at the start of the playoffs, and so long as he’s on the court, the Warriors will always have a chance to compete for a title.

The Warriors surprised everyone with their magical championship run last season. But fans expect them to “flip the switch” once again this postseason. The Warriors are +900 odds to repeat as champions.

No Love for Nuggets, Lots of Love for Lakers

The Denver Nuggets secured the #1 seed in the Western Conference, and NBA All-Star center Nikola Jokic is on the short list to win a third-straight MVP. However, oddsmakers and bettors are reticent to back the Nuggets after Durant tipped the balance of power in the west.

The Nuggets are currently +1100 odds to win the championship as the third-highest team from the conference on the futures board, and the sixth-highest team overall.

The Nuggets didn’t help their own cause when they struggled down the stretch. Head coach Michael Malone chalked up their late-season skid to the team taking the gas off the pedal during his attempt to juggle the lineup to find rest for his starters.

The Lakers, led by the super-popular LeBron James, have a massive legion of fans that are never shy to back their beloved team in the postseason. As a public team, the Lakers tend to have skewed odds  because of a higher volume of money backing them on the futures market. The Lakers are +1600 odds to win the title, even though they’re the #6 seed in the Western Conference.

The $10 Million Bet on the Sacramento Kings

The Sacramento Kings finally ended a 16-year postseason drought and qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2006. The lowly Kings spent the last decade or more as the doormat in the Pacific Division. That’s before they shocked the world by winning a divisional crown and securing the #3 seed in the Western Conference.

The young Kings lack postseason experience, and have a tough draw against the #6 Warriors in the opening round. It should still be a fun matchup, with the defending champions battling the highest-scoring team in the NBA. Plus, there’s some additional drama because Kings head coach Mike Brown was a former assistant coach with the Warriors under Steve Kerr.

One NBA bettor was not shy to back his belief that the Kings could run the table in the postseason and win a championship. During the off-season, a Kings fan made two different futures wagers at the Tropicana Casino in Las Vegas. He bet the Kings to win the 2022-23 NBA championship at +75000 odds at the start of the off-season, and made a second wager at +35000 odds shortly before the preseason began. If the Kings win the title, that fortuitous bettor will cash out for $10.3 million on a mere $18,000 investment.