Celtics

NBA odds: Where Celtics rank among title contenders as season returns

NBA odds: Where Celtics rank among title contenders as season returns

The 2020 NBA championship officially is up for grabs. Should the Boston Celtics be in the title conversation?

The NBA's Board of Governors approved a 22-team format Thursday to resume the 2019-20 season later this summer at Walt Disney World in Orlando.

The format, which calls for eight "seeding" games leading into a traditional 16-team playoff, guarantees the Celtics a playoff berth as the current No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference.

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So, what are Boston's chances of winning it all? Caesars Sportsbook released updated NBA championship odds following Thursday's announcement and has the C's pegged at 15/1.

The Philadelphia 76ers come in after the Denver Nuggets at 25/1, per ESPN's David Purdum.

That's a favorable position for the Celtics, as only the Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks and Clippers have shorter title odds. Westgate SuperBook listed Boston at 16/1 prior to the league's announcement, so the sportsbooks clearly view the C's as a top-5 title contender.

Why the optimism? Well, Boston had the NBA's fifth-best record at 43-21 when the league shut down on March 11 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The C's also should benefit from a healthy Kemba Walker, who missed eight of the team's most recent 15 games while battling knee soreness but will have had four full months to recover.

If Walker is at full strength and Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown can continue their career seasons, Boston should be a force to be reckoned with.

The Celtics' title odds could change based on their first-round opponent: They would currently match up in the first round with the No. 6 seed Sixers, who have beaten Boston in three of four meetings this season.

But considering the C's have stronger title odds than both Philly and the No. 2 seed Toronto Raptors, fans should feel confident about Brad Stevens' club entering the new playoff format.

NBA odds: Celtics' title chances rise as East playoff picture gets clearer

NBA odds: Celtics' title chances rise as East playoff picture gets clearer

The Boston Celtics needed a few days to find their bearings in the NBA bubble. But now that they're on the right track, they could be staying Orlando for a while.

The Celtics locked themselves into the Eastern Conference's No. 3 seed Sunday with a 122-119 overtime win over the Orlando Magic. The victory was their third in a row after routing the Brooklyn Nets and stomping the defending champion Toronto Raptors.

One of the Celtics' major rivals, meanwhile, is heading in the other direction. The Philadelphia 76ers just lost All-Star guard Ben Simmons to a knee injury that could sideline him the entire postseason and fell to the No. 6 seed in the East with Sunday's loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Grizzlies, which begins Tuesday at 4 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 5 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Both the Celtics and Sixers have three seeding games remaining, but as it stands now, they'd face each other in the first round of the NBA playoffs, a matchup that Boston actually might welcome with Simmons sidelined.

In short, things are looking up the C's -- and the sportsbooks have taken notice. Here are DraftKings Sportsbook's latest 2020 NBA championship odds as of Monday morning:

1. Milwaukee Bucks: +250
2. Los Angeles Lakers: +260
3. Los Angeles Clippers: +310
4. Toronto Raptors: +1000
5. Houston Rockets: +1300
6. Boston Celtics: +1600
7. Denver Nuggets: +2500
8. Miami Heat: +2500
9. Dallas Mavericks: +4000
10. Utah Jazz: +4000
All other teams have odds worse than +4000

The Celtics entered the bubble with +2000 odds to win the title but now sit at +1600, closely behind the Raptors and Rockets.

As for the Sixers? They also had +2000 odds prior to the seeding round but have plummeted outside the top 10 to +5000 after Simmons' injury.

The Bucks, Lakers and Clippers have long been the three most serious title contenders. The Celtics have held steady as a dark horse, though, and recent developments have strengthened their championship case: Kemba Walker has looked great while ramping up from a knee injury, while Jayson Tatum has shaken off some early rust to return to All-Star form.

Boston can take its foot off the gas during its final three seeding games with the No. 3 seed wrapped up. But once the postseason begins, it's full speed ahead toward Banner 18.

Celtics' Jayson Tatum shouts out Carmelo Anthony for hitting NBA milestone

Celtics' Jayson Tatum shouts out Carmelo Anthony for hitting NBA milestone

Jayson Tatum was five years old when Carmelo Anthony entered the NBA, so he literally grew up watching the All-Star forward.

Tatum always has admired Anthony's game, so after 'Melo made NBA history in the Portland Trail Blazers' 124-121 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday, the Boston Celtics forward had to show him love.

Here's Tatum's Twitter shout-out of Anthony after the 36-year-old moved to 15th on the NBA's all-time scoring list:

Anthony ironically passed Celtics legend Paul Pierce, who racked up 24,021 of his 26,397 career points in Boston.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Grizzlies, which begins Tuesday at 4 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 5 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Tatum called Anthony one of his "top three favorite players" after the Celtics and Blazers met earlier this season, so it's no wonder he was so excited to see the 36-year-old make history (even if it was at Pierce's expense).

Anthony respects Tatum's game, too: He admitted earlier this season he "loves" watching Tatum play and said the 22-year-old is "like a little brother to me."

Tatum might eye Pierce and Anthony on the all-time scoring list one day if he continues to play at a high level.