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NBA Playoff Odds: Who Should You Back Now To Win The Championship?

NBA Playoff Odds: Who Should You Back Now To Win The Championship?

At the beginning of the 2023-24 NBA Season, the list of championship contenders included (in no specific order) the Denver Nuggets, Boston Celtics, Phoenix Suns, Milwaukee Bucks, both the LA Lakers and Clippers, Golden State Warriors, and the Miami Heat.

Thanks to crafty trades, free-agent pickups, and the simple fact of actually meshing together as a healthy cohesive unit, the parity in the NBA standings has made this season one of the closest in recent memory, minus the Boston Celtics running away with the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

However, the NBA title is not won during the regular season. Last year the Miami Heat proved that they could slide into the post-season with a 44-38 record, good enough for what would amount to being the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference playoff bracket. A demolition of the Bucks, followed by a 4-2 series victory over the New York Knicks and an upset of the Celtics led to the Heat advancing to their second NBA Finals in four years.

While an eighth seed reaching the finals is an anomaly, with the 1999 Knicks being the only other team to do so, this year’s Larry O’Brien trophy seems to be fair game to at least half a dozen legitimate contenders.

In the outsiders list, the Indiana Pacers led by an incredible regular reason of Tyrese Haliburton, who is already part of the Iowa State NBA players all time greats. However, here are our picks for the championship.

Boston Celtics

Two years ago the Celtics lost to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. This year’s version of the Celtics not only brings back their two main players, but a much-improved cast of helpers. Led by Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, the Celtics have surrounded their MVP candidate and perennial All-Star with a 20ppg “unicorn” in Kristaps Porzingis, who can play inside and outside. Add in a Most Improved Player candidate in Derrick White and a former NBA champ in Jrue Holiday and the Celtics trot out arguably the best starting five in the league.

Related: Basketball Boom In Nigeria: Leagues, Popularity, And NBA Influence

Denver Nuggets

The reigning NBA Champs return the same starting core from last season, led by the odd-on favorite MVP, Nikola Jokic. Although the Nuggets lost some of their veteran depth in the offseason, youngsters Christian Braun and Peyton Watson have shown that they are ready to produce in the big moments. The only speedbump on the Nuggets road to a repeat trip to the NBA Finals is the health of guard Jamal Murray.

LA Clippers

If there was ever a time to prove that Los Angeles is not just a Lakers town, this would be it. With elite-level wings Kawhi Leonard and Paul George along with two future Hall-of-Fame players in the backcourt James Harden and Russell Westbrook, the Clippers have the firepower to win the Western Conference and matchup with the Celtics in the Finals.

The one position in which the Clippers have a weakness is in the paint, but Ivica Zubac and Mason Plumlee play their role well.

Oklahoma City Thunder

It has been over a decade since the Thunder (not including the Seattle Sonics history) made their only appearance in the NBA Finals led by a crew of 22 and 23-year-olds that featured Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and Serge Ibaka. Fast forward a dozen years later and a core group of 25 years and under have the Thunder on the verge of something special. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has elevated his play to MVP status.

Sophomore Jalen Williams plays a great complementary role. Chet Holmgren provides a presence in the paint despite his lack of girth, while Lu Dort and Josh Giddy do a little bit of everything. Claiming the first seed in the West was a bit of a shock to fans, but at this point, nobody would be surprised to see the Thunder reach the NBA Finals.

Dallas Mavericks

Luka Doncic has been nothing short of magical since the All-Star break if not all season. Posting a career-high in points, assists, and rebounds, Doncic has been a one-man wrecking crew. Although they are seeded fifth in the Western Conference bracket, nobody wants to play the Mavericks.

Kyrie Irving, whom many thought would implode this season has been a great second option for the Mavericks while the addition of Daniel Gafford has helped alleviate some of the pressure off of rookie big man Dereck Lively II. The major question for the Mavs is who is going to score when Doncic and Irving are off the floor?

Phoenix Suns

Not since he played for the Golden State Warriors has Kevin Durant been in such a prime position to win a championship. The Suns have a superteam led by the trio of KD, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal, and should the three stay healthy, they are easily the highest-scoring trio in the West. Big man Jusuf Nurkic is underrated. At 49-33, the Suns underperformed this season but unlike others in the league matchup well with both the heavily favored Celtics and Nuggets.

Best Of The Rest

Eastern Conference – New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Milwaukee Bucks (depending on the health of Giannis Antetokounmpo)

Western Conference – LA Lakers, Minnesota Timberwolves

Final Prediction

Assuming everyone is as healthy as can be, look at the Nuggets to outlast the Celtics in a great seven-game battle.


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