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NBA Championship Odds: Where the Celtics and Warriors Stand in Title Race

NBA Championship Odds: Where the Celtics and Warriors Stand in Title Race article feature image
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Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors, Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics.

The Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics last played each other 177 days ago in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. You may remember some now-iconic celebrations from one Stephen Curry from that game. And the way this season has started, the Celtics absolutely remember those celebrations.

The two NBA Finals participants will go head-to-head Saturday night in primetime, and while the game itself has plenty of intrigue from a bettor’s perspective, this provides us an opportunity to do a check-in on futures, too.

Entering the season, the Warriors and Celtics were each +600 to win the NBA championship. Now, as we’ve just passed the quarter mark of the season, the Celtics appear to be well ahead of the field, while the Warriors are still finding the right formula.

NBA Championship Odds

Top-10 odds via FanDuel as of Dec. 10

Team Odds Fair Implied Prob
Celtics +340 18.29%
Bucks +480 13.88%
Suns +700 10.06%
Warriors +750 9.47%
Clippers +950 7.66%
Nuggets +1400 5.37%
Nets +1600 4.73%
Cavaliers +1900 4.02%
Grizzlies +2100 3.66%
76ers +2400 3.22%
Click arrow to expand Full NBA title odds
Mavericks +2500 3.10%
Heat +2700 2.87%
Pelicans +3200 2.44%
Raptors +3600 2.18%
Hawks +4200 1.87%
Lakers +6000 1.32%
Trail Blazers +7000 1.13%
Timberwolves +8000 0.99%
Bulls +10000 0.8%
Kings +13000 0.61%
Knicks +21000 0.38%
Wizards +21000 0.38%
Jazz +21000 0.38%
Pacers +37000 0.22%
Hornets +49000 0.16%
Thunder +50000 0.16%
Magic +50000 0.16%
Rockets +50000 0.16%
Spurs +50000 0.16%
Pistons +50000 0.16%

The Celtics are the better team right now, so let’s look at their start and compare it to past teams.

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Celtics Racing to the Top

According to Basketball Reference, the Celtics’ Offensive Rating at this point in the season (120.6) and Effective Field Goal Percentage (.589) would both be the highest in NBA history over a full season. Our own Matt Moore chronicled their unbelievable start last week.

The Celtics have the third-highest win percentage through 25 games for a Finals runner up and are one of just eight teams to win 80% of its games up to that point.

NBA Finals Runners Up — Last 20 Seasons

As you might imagine, winning a lot early is not a sure-fire predictor of future success. The Suns had a hot start last season and famously flamed out in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals.

Only three of those eight fast starters — ’09 Lakers, ’14 Spurs and ’17 Warriors — ended up winning the championship the year after falling short in the Finals the previous season.

Weird Start for the Warriors

The Warriors have been a Jekyll and Hyde team in so many aspects.

Their starters? Amazing. The Warriors’ main five-main unit — Stephen Curry-Klay Thompson-Draymond Green-Andrew Wiggins-Kevon Looney — has the the best Net Rating (23.0) and the second-best Offensive Rating (129.9) in the NBA.

The bench, though? Bleh. In 465 minutes this season, the Warriors’ bench has the second-worst Net Rating (-5.2) in the NBA. Only the San Antonio Spurs have a worse Net Rating this season.

The Warriors at home? Dominant. They are 11-2 straight up 9-4 against the spread in home games, the fourth-most profitable ATS team in the league this season.

The Warriors on the road? Yuck. They are 2-11 straight up and 3-10 against the spread on the road, the worst ATS road record in the NBA this season.

Still the Warriors have the fourth-best odds to win the NBA title entering Saturday’s game.

In the most optimistic view, the Warriors aren’t even close to being out of the picture, despite how far behind the Celtics they are at the moment.

Being in the leading spot on the oddsboard entering December is typically a good sign if you want to win the Larry O’Brien Trophy, but it isn’t the end-all-be-all. Dating back to 2009-10, six NBA champions — ’11 Mavericks, ’14 Spurs, ’15 Warriors, ’16 Cavaliers, ’19 Raptors, ’20 Lakers — were not title favorites on Dec. 1, but still raised the hardware in June.

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