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.
Odds to win NBA title via @CaesarsEnt:— David Payne Purdum (@DavidPurdum) June 4, 2020
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.