Celtics

Updated NBA title odds for Celtics, top contenders after 2020 schedule release

Updated NBA title odds for Celtics, top contenders after 2020 schedule release

The remaining regular season -- or "seeding games -- schedule for the 2019-20 NBA season finally was announced Friday night, so it's time to look at the latest championship odds.

The season will resume at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida next month. Every team will be playing in one central location, so being a higher seed and earning home court will no longer be a huge advantage. Seeding will still be very important, though, because the best way to carve out the easiest path to the NBA Finals is finishing as high as possible in the standings and earning a favorable first-round matchup.

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This is especially important in the Western Conference, where the No. 3 seed and No. 7 seed are separated by only four games. A couple bad performances right off the bat could drop teams down a few spots in the standings and make it very tough to regain a favorable seed.

Oddsmakers currently see three teams with a realistic chance to win the Larry O'Brien Trophy as NBA champions -- the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks.

Here are the latest title odds, courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook:

L.A. Lakers: +240
Milwaukee Bucks: +250
L.A. Clippers: +333
Houston Rockets: +1200
Boston Celtics: +2000
Toronto Raptors: +2200
Denver Nuggets: +2500
Philadelphia 76ers: +2800
Miami Heat: +3000
Utah Jazz: +3300
Dallas Mavericks: +4000
All other teams have +10000 odds or worse

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The Celtics aren't a bad value bet at +2000. They are one team that could give the Milwaukee Bucks a serious challenge for the Eastern Conference title.

The C's are the only team in the league with three players (Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown) averaging at least 20 points per game, and Gordon Hayward isn't far behind at 17.3 points per game himself. This kind of scoring depth gives the Celtics a great advantage because when one or two of these four stars is having a bad night, the other two are likely to pick up the slack. Playing away from TD Garden also shouldn't be too much an issue for the C's, who currently own the third-best road record in the conference. We also can't forget about Brad Stevens -- one of the smartest and best-prepared head coaches in the league.

The Clippers are probably the best bet to win the NBA Finals. They have the most depth, a great head coach in Doc Rivers, arguably the best player in the league in Kawhi Leonard, and a fantastic No. 2 star in Paul George. The Clippers also bring a three-time Sixth Man of the Year Award winner off the bench in Lou Williams, and he's able to drop 25 to 30 points any night.

The NBA usually only has a few teams that have a serious chance to win the title. That might not be the case this season because the whole league playing in one location with no fans is a scenario we've never seen before. It wouldn't be surprising if a couple of the second-tier teams make a deep run in the playoffs, and that would be an exciting event for sports bettors.

Is Jaylen Brown the NBA's best shooting guard? Kendrick Perkins makes case

Is Jaylen Brown the NBA's best shooting guard? Kendrick Perkins makes case

Jaylen Brown didn't make the All-Star team this year, and you likely won't find him on a 2020 All-NBA squad.

But if you ask Kendrick Perkins, the voters should re-evaluate their choices.

After Brown dropped 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting and played impressive defense against Raptors star Pascal Siakam in the Boston Celtics' 122-100 dismantling of Toronto on Friday night, Perkins went on NBC Sports Boston's "Celtics Postgame Live" to drop a spicy take.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Magic, which begins Sunday 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.

"Jaylen Brown, to me, is the best all-around shooting guard in the league," Perkins said. "Pure point blank."

Brown is enjoying a career season, averaging 20.6 points on 48.8 percent shooting with 6.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game while continuing to play elite defense. The 23-year-old has been particularly hot of late, scoring 20 or more points in nine of Boston's last 10 games.

But is Perkins saying Brown is the best shooting guard in the NBA -- better than All-Stars like Bradley Beal and Devin Booker, not to mention MVP finalist James Harden?

Here's Perk's explanation:

He don't search for shots. He's not a high-volume scorer. But when you look up at the end of the night, he's got his 20 points on over 50 percent shooting. And he locks up the best guy every single night. You can't find that. And his playmaking is underrated. He's got a very high (basketball) IQ.

There are better scorers at the position -- including Harden, the NBA's most prolific scorer -- but you could argue Brown has become one of the league's strongest two-way shooting guards.

And Perkins very much would like to make that argument.

Perkins might take heat for declaring Brown the cream of the shooting guard crop, but his bold take shouldn't distract from the fact that the fourth-year wing is becoming an elite NBA player before our eyes.

Report: 76ers star Ben Simmons to leave NBA bubble for knee surgery

Report: 76ers star Ben Simmons to leave NBA bubble for knee surgery

Is the Philadelphia 76ers' worst-case scenario playing out?

All-Star guard Ben Simmons will leave the NBA bubble to undergo surgery on his left knee, The Athletic's Shams Charania reported Saturday.

The procedure will "remove a loose body" from Simmons' knee, per Charania. The timetable for his recovery is unclear, but ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski suggested he'll at least miss the first round or two of the NBA playoffs.

Simmons injured his knee Wednesday during Philly's win over the Washington Wizards and was diagnosed with a subluxation of his left patella, or kneecap.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Magic, which begins Sunday 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.

His injury obviously has massive implications for the Sixers and the rest of the Eastern Conference -- particularly the Boston Celtics, who would match up with Philly in the first round if the season ended today.

Boston currently is the No. 3 seed in the East, while the Sixers are the No. 6 seed but have the same record as the No. 5 Indiana Pacers with four seeding games remaining.

Simmons is averaging 16.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, eight assists and a league-high 2.1 steals for Philly and is the team's best player outside big man Joel Embiid. His absence changes the entire dynamic of Philly's offense and makes the Sixers a much less formidable playoff opponent.