For almost the entire first three-quarters of the season, the Boston Celtics were the cream of the crop in the NBA. Jayson Tatum was the MVP favorite, Joe Mazzulla was well on his way to winning Coach of the Year, and they were running through the rest of the league with ease.
Now, however, for basically the first time all season, they’re no longer the favorites to win the NBA title according to FanDuel Sportsbook:
2023 NBA Finals Odds to Win
Milwaukee Bucks +260
Boston Celtics +330
Denver Nuggets +750
Phoenix Suns +800
Philadelphia 76ers +950
Memphis Grizzlies +1200
Golden State Warriors +1200
The Celtics are just 6-6 in their last 12 games and have looked like a shell of themselves compared to the beginning of the season. It isn’t necessarily time to panic, as they’re still one of the better teams in basketball, but they’re far from the team that started this season and and even farther from the one that went to the Finals a year ago.
On top of their drop in the odds and the standings, their second superstar in Jaylen Brown has recently said that he’s not sure if he’ll finish his career in Boston. He told Logan Murdock from the Ringer:
“I don’t know. As long as I’m needed. It’s not up to me. We’ll see how they feel about me over time and I feel about them over time. Hopefully, whatever it is, it makes sense. But I will stay where I’m wanted. I will stay where I’m needed and treated correct. I just enjoy the time that you have now. If it’s your whole career, it’s your whole career. If it’s not, it’s not. Some of the greatest players of all time haven’t finished with their organization. Michael Jordan retired a Wizard.”
Brown is averaging a career-high 26.7 points per game this season and was voted to his second career All-Star game in February. If he makes an All-NBA team as well, he becomes eligible for a supermax contract extension that would allow Boston to pay him 35% of their cap, more than any other team could offer him (h/t Chris Forsberg).
If not for this significant financial incentive to stay, however, it feels like there’s a real chance Brown would prefer to play elsewhere and become a number one on his own team.
Following Boston’s win versus Sacramento on Tuesday, Brown told reporters, “right now I’m focused on helping lead my team for another playoff run.” The Celtics continue their quest for an 18th banner on Friday night against the Pacers.
Make sure to follow Mike on Twitter @mikekadlick, and follow @CelticsCLNS for the latest up-to-date Celtics news!
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