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Celtics clear favorites to win 2025 NBA title, but path looks tougher

Updated June 18, 2024 - 3:19 pm

The Boston Celtics are the clear favorites to become the first team to win back-to-back NBA championships since the Golden State Warriors in 2017 and 2018.

The Celtics won their 18th NBA title Monday with a 106-88 Game 5 win over the Dallas Mavericks. The victory helped Boston break a tie for the most championships in league history with the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Celtics are a 3-1 favorite at the Westgate SuperBook, Caesars Sportsbook and Station Sports to repeat as champs in 2025. They’re the +350 favorite at Circa Sports.

“They have just about the same team next year,” SuperBook NBA oddsmaker Jeff Sherman said. “They were, by far, the best team this season. There was a wide gap in the power rating between them and the second team.”

The 2023 NBA champion Denver Nuggets are the 8-1 second choice at the SuperBook to reclaim the crown after getting upset by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Western Conference semifinals.

“It’s tough to repeat. You’ve got that target on your back,” Sherman said. “They’ll have an opportunity for a more prolonged summer and to regroup. You would think they’ll improve their team after bowing out early this year.”

The Timberwolves and Oklahoma City Thunder are each 9-1 to win it all next season. They’re the only other teams with single-digit odds at the Westgate.

“What Minnesota did with Anthony Edwards growing up as he did leading that team, we expect to see a lot of support for them,” Sherman said. “The Thunder are just a team on the rise. They’ve got draft picks and salary-cap maneuverability, so they can add to the young team they have.

“I expect them to take another leap. They finished with the No. 1 seed (in the West) this past year and their trajectory is still going upward.”

The Thunder were upset in the Western Conference semifinals by the Mavericks, who are the 10-1 fifth favorite at the SuperBook.

“I think they should be higher but my expectation is people will be looking to bet them because of what they did this year,” Sherman said. “It feels like they need a little bit more help. You know what to expect out of (Luka) Doncic. He gave you everything he had. He was really banged up. And that’s the problem with him. The way that he plays the game, he’s prone to get injuries and there’s a chance your dealing with that this year.”

Best of rest

The Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers are each 12-1 and the New York Knicks are 14-1.

Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo missed the playoffs with a calf strain and 76ers star Joel Embiid battled a knee injury in the regular season and postseason. The Knicks were riddled with injuries in the playoffs before losing to the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

“I don’t know how much different Milwaukee is going to look. They don’t have much player maneuverability,” Sherman said. “The Sixers have some cap space to work with. They can get a third (star). I expect them to improve.

“The Knicks have a lot of draft picks they need to trade for other veteran help. I expect them to take what they did this year and build on that.”

The Los Angeles Clippers are 20-1 and the Lakers are 25-1.

Sherman does believe the Celtics’ road to the 2025 title will be much tougher than the one they had this year. Boston, during its playoff run, beat the Heat without Jimmy Butler, the Cavaliers without Donovan Mitchell and the Pacers without Tyrese Haliburton before defeating the fifth-seeded Mavericks in the Finals.

“Unless you see something similar, it can only get more challenging next year,” Sherman said. “Even though they’re returning pretty much the same team.”

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on X.

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