We’ve made it. After an offseason of drama, intrigue, and trade requests – a typical NBA summer these days – meaningful basketball will finally be played Tuesday night.
We’ve covered everything there is to know about the NBA from a betting perspective in our NBA betting hub. Now, we’ll wrap up our preseason content with championship futures.
Eastern Conference odds
Odds to win the NBA Finals
The Bucks‘ trade for Damian Lillard delivered a gut punch to the Celtics, elevating Milwaukee’s title odds as favorites to win the NBA Finals.
The Celtics countered with a right hook of their own, trading for former Buck Jrue Holiday from the Blazers. Boston’s odds then shortened as co-favorites alongside Milwaukee. The two organizations are seemingly on a collision course to meet in the Eastern Conference finals for a heavy-weight bout.
Lillard and Antetokounmpo are the NBA’s best duo. Still, the Bucks have questions beyond their superstars, starting with Khris Middleton, whose decline and lack of durability have held Milwaukee back the last two seasons.
However, the Celtics have the league’s best starting lineup. Beyond his playmaking abilities and defensive prowess, Holiday provides veteran leadership and championship pedigree to a group that’s fallen just short the previous two seasons.
He’s the perfect point guard for exceptional wing scorers Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Boston’s most important offseason addition, though, was Kristaps Porzingis.
Porzingis is coming off a season where he averaged a career high in minutes, points, field-goal percentage, and 3-point percentage. He’s the floor-spacer the Celtics desperately needed, which allows Tatum, Holiday, and Brown more space to operate.
He can also create for himself on the low block and mid-post, and he’s a defensive anchor as a quality rim-protector and rebounder.
Porzingis’ skills provide the Celtics with flexibility. He can play center when the Celtics go small and can also serve as a stretch big when he shares the floor with Al Horford.
It’s preseason basketball, so take it with a grain of salt, but this is a brief preview of Porzingis’ potential as a Celtic:
The Celtics’ depth beyond their starters is concerning. But the level of concern depends on how Derrick White fares in an elevated role, as well as the development of Payton Pritchard.
However, this iteration of the Celtics will finally sit atop the mountain they’ve come so close to scaling, resulting in a championship in June.
Picks: Celtics to win the East +175 Celtics to win the NBA Finals +400 (bet $10 to win $40)
Western Conference odds
Odds to win the NBA Finals
Unlike the two-horse race in the East, the West is wide-open with many teams that could make a legitimate title case. The defending champion Nuggets lead the pack as the favorites.
Instead of making a case for all of them, let’s focus on the Suns.
Mid-year acquisitions for superstars rarely lead to the results fans expect. That was no different last season when the Suns traded for Kevin Durant halfway through the campaign and then lost in the second round.
That team was deeply flawed with scarce 3-point shooting and lackluster role players. But Phoenix had a busy offseason improving its title chances.
The Suns shipped off Chris Paul for Bradley Beal. He’s respected as an elite scorer, but he’s struggled the last couple of seasons. Beal hasn’t made an All-Star Game since 2021. Pairing him with Durant and Devin Booker – two of the NBA’s best scorers – in a new situation should help resurrect his career.
Phoenix also traded away Deandre Ayton, a player who flatlined and gave questionable effort. In exchange, the Suns got Jusuf Nurkic, likely an upgrade offensively but oftentimes a liability defensively. Center is the primary area of concern for the Suns.
The Suns’ depth is much greater than it was last year. Grayson Allen is a key addition. He’s a career 39.5% 3-point shooter and has averaged double figures the last three seasons.
The Suns have the most talented six-man rotation in the West. Talent doesn’t always equate to wins, but with a new coach in Frank Vogel and no unstoppable teams in the conference, Phoenix will win the conference.
A Suns-versus-Celtics NBA Finals matchup is currently listed at +900.
Pick: Suns to win the West +275
Clippers to win the NBA Finals +1800
Betting on Paul George and Kawhi Leonard – two superstars whose Clippers tenure has been marred by disappointment and catastrophic injury – is a risky proposition, which is why they have the eighth-best odds at +1800 to hoist the trophy.
But based on pure talent and roster construction, the Clippers can compete with anyone in the league. Leonard and George are two of the top 20 players in the league when they’re healthy. They have a deep roster of impact players, including Terance Mann, Russell Westbrook, Ivica Zubac, and Norman Powell.
With no extensions in place as of now, George and Leonard will become free agents following the season. This is a crucial year for both of them and the entire franchise. If you’re into long-shot futures, this is the one for you.
Sam Oshtry is a sports betting writer at theScore. You can follow him on X, formerly known as Twitter, @soshtry for more betting coverage