Celtics and Bucks Lead the Way as NBA Title Favorites: Early 2024 NBA Finals Predictions

Steve Aschburner

In my opinion, ​the Suns ​and Celtics stand ​out as ​the most talented ​teams in ​their respective conferences. ​It’s not ​just about individual ​skills; it’s ​about the overall ​strength of ​the teams. Jayson ​Tatum might ​be a frontrunner ​for the ​Kia MVP award ​(unless voters ​can’t overlook the ​support he ​has from Boston’s ​roster). With ​Kristaps Porzingis and ​Jrue Holiday ​on board, the ​Celtics have ​a new dimension ​that could ​potentially make a ​bigger impact ​on their title ​aspirations than ​Damian Lillard.

The ​Suns are ​brimming with offensive ​firepower, much ​like Boston, and ​there’s a ​sense of urgency ​for both ​teams to make ​it all ​come together this ​season. They ​were both expected ​to reach ​the Finals last ​June, so ​the realization that ​their championship ​window may be ​narrowing should ​serve as motivation.

Brian Martin

With Giannis Antetokounmpo’s ​contract extension ​on Monday, the ​Bucks no ​longer have the ​cloud of ​uncertainty hanging over ​their star ​player as the ​season begins. ​The combination of ​Giannis and ​Damian Lillard, particularly ​their formidable ​pick-and-roll game, might ​give Milwaukee ​the edge over ​Boston as ​they both aim ​for their ​second Finals appearance ​in this ​decade.

While Denver ​lost some ​depth from last ​year’s championship-winning ​team, the Nuggets ​have Nikola ​Jokic performing at ​an MVP ​level and a ​healthy Jamal ​Murray for the ​entire season. ​This makes them ​the favorites, ​but they’ll face ​a tough ​road in the ​competitive Western ​Conference, potentially encountering ​strong contenders ​like the Suns ​and Lakers ​in the playoffs.

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Shaun Powell

In the Western ​Conference, there ​are only five ​truly competitive ​teams: the Nuggets, ​Lakers, Grizzlies, ​Suns, and Clippers. ​Among them, ​the Suns have ​the offensive ​firepower to match ​or surpass ​any of their ​rivals and ​should have just ​enough defensive ​prowess to come ​out on ​top.

Turning to ​the Eastern ​Conference, the real ​contenders are ​the Bucks and ​the Celtics. ​It’s a tough ​choice, but ​if it comes ​down to ​a decisive Game ​Seven in ​the Eastern Finals, ​Jayson Tatum ​and Jrue Holiday ​could be ​the game-changers.

The ​NBA Finals ​could either solidify ​Kevin Durant’s ​place in the ​top 10 ​of all-time NBA ​greats or ​lead to Boston ​hanging another ​championship banner.

John Schuhmann

While defense remains ​crucial in ​the NBA, it’s ​becoming increasingly ​difficult to completely ​stifle great ​offenses. The Celtics ​and Suns ​have arguably the ​highest offensive ​potential, thanks to ​the talent ​at the top ​of their ​rosters. Boston boasts ​an elite ​top six and ​capable shooters ​beyond that, while ​Phoenix features ​three of the ​league’s top ​offensive players and ​more sharpshooters.

​The Nuggets, with ​their dynamic ​duo of Jamal ​Murray and ​Nikola Jokic, should ​also be ​in the mix. ​Both teams ​may encounter some ​issues, especially ​in terms of ​frontcourt depth, ​but they have ​the next ​six months to ​work things ​out. Expect both ​squads to ​be strong, with ​no major ​defensive shortcomings.

Michael C. Wright

Nuggets-Celtics. There has ​been significant ​movement in the ​Eastern Conference, ​with Boston and ​Milwaukee making ​key acquisitions to ​boost their ​competitiveness. However, the ​Celtics appear ​to have come ​out on ​top in this ​battle. With ​an already solid ​roster and ​remarkable continuity, Boston ​now possesses ​the most overall ​talent in ​the East. They ​boast four ​All-Star starters Jayson Tatum, ​Jaylen Brown, Jrue ​Holiday, and ​Kristaps Porzingis.

Out ​in the ​Western Conference, the ​reigning champions, ​the Nuggets, faced ​some offseason ​losses, particularly in ​terms of ​depth with the ​departures of ​Bruce Brown and ​Jeff Green. ​However, their starting ​five remains ​intact, anchored by ​the two-time ​MVP, Nikola Jokic, ​and the ​exceptionally talented point ​guard, Jamal ​Murray, who is ​on the ​cusp of earning ​his first ​All-Star nod.

The ​Boston Celtics ​and Milwaukee Bucks ​are entering ​the NBA season ​as the ​top contenders for ​the championship ​according to various ​sportsbooks across ​the nation.

Both ​the Celtics ​and Bucks are ​considered co-favorites ​at several sportsbooks, ​although Caesars ​Sportsbook slightly favors ​Boston with ​odds at +380, ​followed closely ​by Milwaukee at ​+400. Defending ​champions, the Denver ​Nuggets, are ​the next in ​line with ​odds at +420, ​and the ​Phoenix Suns (+600) ​and Golden ​State Warriors (+850) ​round out ​the list of ​teams with ​single-digit odds at ​the start ​of the season, ​according to ​Caesars Sportsbook.

Both ​the Celtics ​and Bucks, who ​made significant ​changes to their ​backcourt during ​the offseason, are ​also the ​top favorites to ​win the ​NBA Cup, the ​inaugural in-season ​tournament. Boston added ​veteran guard ​Jrue Holiday to ​their roster, ​and Milwaukee traded ​for superstar ​Damian Lillard to ​pair him ​with Giannis Antetokounmpo.

​During the ​offseason, the Denver ​Nuggets drew ​the most attention ​and largest ​bets to win ​the championship ​at Caesars Sportsbook. ​Notably, they ​received a $30,000 ​bet at ​4-1 odds from ​a bettor ​in Nevada, potentially ​paying out ​a net $120,000.

​The Los ​Angeles Lakers, with ​odds around ​11-1 to win ​the championship, ​have been the ​top choice ​among bettors at ​sportsbooks FanDuel ​and the SuperBook. ​The LA ​Clippers are listed ​at 18-1, ​and the Miami ​Heat are ​at 22-1.

On ​the opposite ​end of the ​spectrum, the ​Detroit Pistons, Charlotte ​Hornets, Washington ​Wizards, and Portland ​Trail Blazers ​are considered long ​shots, each ​with odds of ​500-1 at ​Caesars Sportsbook.

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As ​for individual ​accolades, Nuggets’ star ​Nikola Jokic ​is the favorite ​to win ​the regular-season MVP ​with odds ​at 3-1, followed ​by Giannis ​Antetokounmpo (6-1) and ​Luka Doncic ​(11-2) of the ​Dallas Mavericks.

The top pick ​in the ​draft, Victor Wembanyama ​of the ​San Antonio Spurs, ​is a ​strong favorite to ​win Rookie ​of the Year ​with odds ​at -150. Notably, ​Wembanyama is ​the first player ​to be ​an odds-on favorite ​to win ​Rookie of the ​Year since ​Kevin Durant in ​2007-08, according ​to the betting ​database

The NBA season ​kicks off ​on Tuesday, with ​the Nuggets ​hosting the Lakers ​and the ​Warriors hosting the ​Suns.

Odds ​to win the ​NBA championship ​(via Caesars Sportsbook, ​as of ​Oct. 24):

Here are the odds for teams to win the NBA championship, listed in order of their likelihood according to the sportsbook:

Milwaukee Bucks have odds at +400.

Denver Nuggets have odds at +420.

Phoenix Suns have odds at +600.

Golden State Warriors have odds at +850.

Los Angeles Lakers have odds at +1,100.

LA Clippers have odds at +1,800.

Miami Heat have odds at +2,200.

Dallas Mavericks have odds at +2,500.

Philadelphia 76ers have odds at +2,800.

Cleveland Cavaliers have odds at +3,000.

Memphis Grizzlies have odds at +3,000.

Sacramento Kings have odds at +4,000.

Minnesota Timberwolves have odds at +4,000.

The New York Knicks have odds at +5,000.

New Orleans Pelicans have odds at +5,000.

Oklahoma City Thunder have odds at +7,000.

Atlanta Hawks have odds at +8,000.

Toronto Raptors have odds at +12,500.

Chicago Bulls have odds at +15,000.

Brooklyn Nets have odds at +15,000.

San Antonio Spurs have odds at +20,000.

Indiana Pacers have odds at +20,000.

Utah Jazz have odds at +30,000.

Houston Rockets have odds at +30,000.

Orlando Magic has odds at +30,000.

Detroit Pistons have odds at +50,000.

Charlotte Hornets have odds at +50,000.

Washington Wizards have odds at +50,000.

Portland Trail Blazers have odds at +50,000.

These odds represent the sportsbook’s estimation of each team’s chances to win the championship, with the lower odds indicating higher favorability.

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