Dan Favale | Thu 05/10/2017 - 08:04 EDT

NBA Futures: Boston Celtics Odds

NBA Futures: Boston Celtics Odds
Teams that finish with the best record in their conference don't typically undergo an offseason overhaul. The Boston Celtics, however, are an exception. They took a stick of dynamite to last year's core, and the oddsmakers are incredibly high on their betting appeal. But should they be? We dissect their division, conference and title chances to find out.

Boston Celtics Betting Odds

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  • Atlantic Division: -350
  • Eastern Conference: +180
  • NBA Championship: +800

Last season, the Boston Celtics finished with the Eastern Conference’s best record, winning 53 games and earning a trip to the Conference Finals.

So, naturally, they blew it up over the summer.

Wait, what?

Yes, it’s true. Signing Gordon Hayward away from the Utah Jazz cost the Celtics Avery Bradley, via trade, and forced them to cut Kelly Olynyk loose in free agency. Then, after that, they flipped Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first-round pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Kyrie Irving—a move most, including the oddsmakers, absolutely loved.

But is this optimism even warranted?

In a word, no.

Indeed, the Celtics will be good. If you’re looking for an Atlantic Division bet, they’re your team. The Toronto Raptors come close, but they, too, lost a bunch of talent over the summer. The Philadelphia 76ers will be much better, but they won’t come close to sniffing 50 wins. Both the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets, meanwhile, will be lucky to clear 30 victories. That leaves the Celtics as the relatively unchallenged Atlantic Division favorites.

Beyond this, though, they don’t hold much appeal. 

If you’re looking for a super-duper dark horse, then yes, you can bet on them to win the Eastern Conference. But the Cavaliers remain miles ahead of the pack so long as LeBron James is healthy. On a larger scale, don’t even bother with the Celtics’ championship odds.

Never mind that no one is beating the Golden State Warriors. Oddsmakers are pegging Boston as a better team than the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets, among others, each of whom projects to finish with a superior record. 

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There is no denying the Celtics have star power. Down the line, a few seasons from, after Hayward, Irving and Al Horford have had time to jell, they might even be the toast of the league—particularly if they hit on Jaylen Brown and rookie Jayson Tatum.

Immediately, however, the Celtics must be graded against a stark learning curve. They severed ties with nearly two-thirds of last year’s total minutes—a turnover rate that would have ranked among the three highest in the NBA this past season, according to Basketball-Reference. Teams that endure this much change do not instantly morph into championship contenders. Formations of this magnitude take time. Head coach Brad Stevens is a miracle-worker, but he’ll still need a while to get everyone on the same page, in complete and utter harmony.

Let’s also not forget the Celtics actually lost value with their moves.

Thomas was better than Irving in each of the last two seasons. He may be older and working his way back from a hip injury, but presently, should he return relatively soon, it may turn out Boston downgraded at the point guard position—all while giving up Crowder, arguably their most valuable defender, who is on the NBA’s best contract.

Once more: These moves cannot be wholly judged for a few years. The Celtics were clearly fixating both eyes on the future by acquiring the 25-year-old Irving. And that’s the thing. They’re not as concerned with what’s happening this season. They’re trying to be the best team in the league by, like, 2020, when the Cavaliers and Warriors have, presumably, relinquished their respective chokeholds on the Association’s competitive landscape.

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It just so happens the Celtics have the personnel to straddle both of these timelines. But we have to be realistic about where they are now, and how long it’ll take them to get where they want to go. So while they’re a surefire bet to win the Atlantic, you’re best off steering clear of their conference and NBA championship odds unless they start leaking into +1200 territory…

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