League History And Eastern Conference Path Make Boston Celtics NBA Finals Favorites

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The Boston Celtics clinched the top seed before any other Eastern Conference team even secured a guaranteed playoff berth. They enter the postseason as title favorites at +175, but can they finally get over the hump? Based on Boston’s statistical profile this season, history is on their side.

But just because Boston is favored to win it all, doesn’t necessarily mean the Celtics will ultimately be favored when the NBA Finals start. Their status as heavy favorites as the playoffs open has much to do with their potential path to the finals.

Check below for NBA Finals odds on the Celtics, along with a breakdown of their historic dominance so far.

Boston Celtics NBA championship odds

The Celtics and Denver Nuggets both sit in the top tier of championship contenders based on their odds at NBA betting sites.

It’s a logical stance by the books given the Celtics’ dominance and the Nuggets’ peak level of play. In fact, the books actually favor Boston to win the Eastern Conference over the field, which is a testament to how much their statistical profile reeks of a potential championship. Overall, the Celtics own the most championship equity of any team, and history supports this notion. For additional info, check out our NBA betting guide.

Insight from BetMGM

According to BetMGM Sportsbook, the Boston Celtics are the second largest liability for BetMGM if they win the title. They currently own the second-highest ticket percentage at 15.5% and the second-highest handle at 23.3%. Since opening at +550, their odds are now down to .

Highest ticket %

  • Nuggets 18.0%
  • Celtics 15.5%
  • Suns 10.5%

Highest handle %

  • Nuggets 29.3%
  • Celtics 23.3%
  • Clippers 6.7%

Biggest liability

  • Nuggets
  • Celtics
  • Suns

Why is Boston such a large favorite heading into the playoffs?

Firstly, the Eastern Conference is once again considerably weaker than the Western Conference. Per BetMGM Sportsbook, six of the top nine teams with the shortest championship odds hail from the West. That group does not even include the lurking Los Angeles Lakers, who feature LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Meanwhile, the East contenders outside of Boston all have significant question marks surrounding them. For example, a calf injury has sidelined Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, and he may miss time during the postseason. Milwaukee also ranks 19th in defensive rating, and it’s worth noting that 23 of the past 25 NBA champions finished top 11 at a minimum during their respective regular season.

Julius Randle will miss the entire postseason for New York, which raises questions about their offensive ceiling versus stingy playoff defenses. Philadelphia also must worry about injuries given Joel Embiid’s history. The Magic can’t score, the Pacers can’t defend, and the Cavaliers do not fit together in the slightest. Miami has recently exceeded expectations and been a thorn in Boston’s side, but their offense on paper is brutal at the moment.

Because the East is less dangerous than the West in general, Boston’s path contains less dark horses that could catch them by surprise. Denver, on the other hand, may face an absolute gauntlet of the Lakers, Timberwolves, Thunder/Mavericks/Clippers…and that’s before potentially meeting the 62-win Boston Celtics in the Finals.

Overall, Boston’s dominance combined with the frailer East fuels their status as championship favorites.

Run of regular season dominance

The Celtics outscored opponents by an astonishing 11.7 points per 100 possessions on average this regular season. To put that mark into perspective, only six teams in NBA history have breached the 11-point threshold for an entire season: 

The 2016 Spurs are the sole squad of that group that failed to win the championship. It’s hard to fault them, though, considering they collided with prime Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka. 

Meanwhile, Boston became the fifth team in NBA history to lead the league in offensive rating while simultaneously ranking in the top two in defensive rating. Only the 1971 Bucks, 1972 Lakers, 1996 Bulls, and 2017 Warriors have accomplished this feat — four teams that won the title and are generally considered at a minimum to be among the top 10 teams of all time. 

As for another quality predictor, the Celtics easily pace the league in net effective field goal percentage, which adjusts traditional field goal percentage to account for the fact that 3-pointers are more valuable than two-pointers. For example, Anthony Davis shoots roughly 55% from the field, while Steph Curry sits at 45%. However, because Curry shoots far more threes that generate more points, he has a larger effective field goal percentage. 

Of the past 25 NBA champions, 16 of them ranked in the top three in this stat for their respective season, and 23 finished in the top six. Boston’s ability to consistently win the efficiency battle is a strong sign of future success. 

A deep and versatile roster

The playoffs often come down to stars, matchups, and adjustments. Boston’s immense versatility throughout its roster increases its ability to throw counterpunches at whatever the team may encounter. For example, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid apply tremendous pressure around the basket. Enter Kristaps Porzingis, who ranks fourth across the NBA in both rim points saved per 75 possessions and rim defensive field goal percentage versus expected

What if the Celtics face an elite off-the-dribble perimeter scorer who acts as a primary creator, such as Jalen Brunson or Donovan Mitchell? That’s unlikely to be much of a problem because Derrick White and Jrue Holiday form the top point-of-attack defensive duo in the league. With Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum on the roster, Boston even has an answer for elite wing scorers such as Jimmy Butler and Paolo Banchero

On the other end, the Celtics avoid hyper-disruptive defenders because all five starters can create for themselves, sink difficult shots, and make the correct passes. Their role versatility is through the roof, which bars opponents from neutralizing certain actions since anyone has the ability to initiate them. Plus, Payton Pritchard, Sam Hauser, and Al Horford lead a bench unit that also lacks one-dimensional players. 

Essentially, the Celtics have the tools to potentially make every adjustment necessary on both sides of the court, which is a staple of the all-time teams. The eye test and metrics both adore Boston; it’s simply a matter of whether they execute to their potential.