The Celtics’ NBA Title Odds Have Value Right Now, And Here’s Why
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images. Pictured: Robert Williams III #44 of the Boston Celtics and Jayson Tatum #0.
You’re probably not thinking much about the Boston Celtics right now, but you should be.
There’s a pivotal window — under 24 hours between Monday night and Tuesday evening — about to flash, and now is the time to bet Celtics East and title futures.
Timing is everything, and this is about more than just the Celtics. There are three important factors in play that make this Monday-to-Tuesday window important.
1. Boston has not clinched its own series yet.
The Celtics are up 3-1 on the Hawks and huge favorites to advance. Everyone expects them to. Books are expecting them to as well. But, importantly, they haven’t actually moved on just yet.
Until Boston actually knocks out the Hawks, books have to price in at least the tiny possibility that the Celtics lose this round. That buys a sliver of value on Boston futures.
2. There’s no injury news yet on Joel Embiid.
The 76ers are up next for Boston, and we already know Joel Embiid is injured. But how banged up is he? We don’t know for sure right now and likely won’t get more information until 24 or 48 hours before Game 1.
That news will most likely be bad for Philadelphia. If Embiid misses the start of the series, Boston becomes a heavier favorite, both to win the series and for all futures bets. Even if Embiid is limited or playing with a minutes restriction, that helps Boston’s chances and shortens their odds.
It appears that some version of that is coming — but the uncertainty for now gives some value.
3. The Bucks win Monday and restore books’ faith in them.
This is the biggest key, and it’s obviously contingent on a Monday night win for Milwaukee.
The Bucks opened the playoffs as East favorites. They were the No. 1 seed, and they had the ostensibly easier path since Boston and Philadelphia would have to get through each other. That’s still true.
But right now — before Bucks Game 4 — Milwaukee is down 2-1 to the Heat with just 11 minutes from Giannis Antetokounmpo so far in the playoffs. I have the Bucks as a sizable favorite to win the series, around 65%, but that still means Milwaukee is eliminated in the first round one-third of the time.
Books have to price in that Milwaukee uncertainty for now, which means longer odds for the Bucks. It also means a potentially easier path for Boston or Philly, so shorter odds for them. A Bucks win Monday with a healthy-looking Antetokounmpo restores faith in Milwaukee, shortening their odds. By definition that lengthens odds for everyone else — including Boston, their presumed top contender.
This is the perfect confluence of events to buy a brief window of value on Celtics futures with Boston yet to clinch, no Embiid injury news yet, and faith in the Bucks theoretically restored.
Before Bucks Game 4, the Celtics are between +115 to +120 to win the East at most books and between +250 to +260 to win the title. If we get this Boston equinox, we should have a brief 20-hour period to get slightly better value.
Pick: Celtics to Win the East
Pick: Celtics to Win the Title
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