With the regular season over and the two-seed in the Eastern Conference locked up, the Celtics officially have their first-round matchup set for the 2022-2023 NBA Playoffs.
They’ll face off against Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks, who defeated the Miami Heat 116-105 on Tuesday night in the play-in game. Here are the odds for the series according to FanDuel Sportsbook:
Hawks vs. Celtics Series Price
Hawks +2.5 +132
Celtics -2.5 -162
The Celtics are clearly the better, more well-rounded team, and also went 3-0 against them in the regular season – beating them by an average of 13 points per game. This should be a cakewalk.
Not only is Boston the overwhelming favorite in the series, but after finishing the season with a 57-25 record, also holds the second shortest odds to win the NBA Finals according to FanDuel:
2023 NBA Finals – Odds to Win
Milwaukee Bucks +240
Boston Celtics +370
Phoenix Suns +460
Golden State Warriors +750
Philadelphia 76ers +900
Denver Nuggets +1100
The Celtics were well on their way to a title last season before an epic collapse versus the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. Prior to last postseason, I outlined Four Reasons Why they’d win it last year. They were:
1. Defense Wins Championships
2. Pivotal Role Players
4. Star Power
Most of these still hold true as to why they can get over the hump this year. Though Boston’s defense has taken a hit under Joe Mazzulla and their “momentum” is scarce right now, they still have the pivotal role players and the star power to take the Larry O’Brien home.
Malcolm Brogdon has been a godsend for the Celtics after being traded to Boston in June, averaging 14.9 points per game and becoming a defensive show-stopper off of the bench. He had the second-highest odds to win the Sixth Man of the Year award prior to lines closing at Fan Duel, and is currently running away with the award as votes trickle in.
As far as their star power, not much has to be said about Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Both guys are set to make All-NBA teams, are clear-cut top-15 players in the league, and would realistically be able to drag this team to the playoffs without the other.
However, instead of continuing to try and divide these two with speculation about whether Brown wants to leave and if they’ll be able to afford him on a super-max deal, let’s let them work over the next two months and see what can happen as they strive for banner 18.
The Pick: While I think Milwaukee is the deserving favorite to win the title, Boston at +370 is a solid bet given their depth, star power, and experience.
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