NBA Championship Odds: Celtics Remain the Favorite, Timberwolves Trending Up

Zack Bussiere
Zack Bussiere@ZackBussiere

The NBA Playoffs are in full swing as we near the conclusion of the first round.

In the West, the Oklahoma City Thunder, Denver Nuggets, and Minnesota Timberwolves have all advanced. In the East, the Boston Celtics are through to the second round.

Over on FanDuel Sportsbook, you can find an array of playoff markets, including East Playoff Series odds, West Playoff Series odds, Conference Winners odds, and more.

For this article, we'll turn our attention to the NBA championship odds and take look at the current frontrunners.

NBA Championship Odds

NBA Championship 2023-24
FanDuel Sportsbook Odds
Boston Celtics+125
Denver Nuggets+280
Oklahoma City Thunder+800
Minnesota Timberwolves+900
Dallas Mavericks+1300
New York Knicks+1500
Milwaukee Bucks+4200
View Full Table

Boston Celtics (+125)

Since our most recent update (over two weeks ago), the Celtics' championship odds have shortened from +165 to +125.

Boston won their series with the Miami Heat in five games. Outside of their 111-102 loss in Game 2, the Celtics were the dominant team they were expected to be. Their average win margin in their four victories was +22 as they shot 47.4% from the field and 39.0% from behind the arc. Their 15.0 made threes per game is first among teams in the playoffs.

Essentially, it was business as usual for Boston as they got revenge on a shorthanded Heat side, one that sent them home in last year's Eastern Conference Finals.

It wasn't all good news for the Celtics, though. Kristaps Porzingis suffered a calf injury in Game 4 that is expected to sideline him for several games. Porzingis, whose +7.3 plus/minus ranked seventh in the regular season, is a key part of the Celtics' excellence. While Boston can win without him, his injury makes their path to a Championship more difficult. How soon Porzingis is able to return and how impactful he is once -- or if -- he does, will have a large impact on Boston's outlook.

Next up for the Celtics is a second-round clash with either the Orlando Magic or Cleveland Cavaliers. Both teams finished inside the top 10 in adjusted defensive rating (aDRTG) in the regular season, per Dunks & Threes, but each also finished outside the top 14 in adjusted net rating (aNET) due to below-average offenses. Expect the Celtics to be sizable favorites over whichever team advances.

The Celtics remain the favorite to advance from the East, with -210 odds to win the Eastern Conference.

Denver Nuggets (+280)

Since our last update, the Nuggets championship odds have shortened slightly from +300 to +280.

Denver dispatched the Los Angeles Lakers in five games, but the series was closer than the final result indicates. Denver trailed at the half in each game and needed buzzer beaters from Jamal Murray to secure wins in Games 2 and 5. Albeit against a much stronger opponent, the Nuggets' first-round win was far less impressive than the Celtics'.

Scoring wasn't the problem for Denver. Their 108.6 points per game in the first round ranks fourth in the postseason, above the Celtics (107.8). They shot 46.3% from the field against LA but just 30.8% from behind the arc -- well below their season average of 37.4%. Their defense, which allowed 106.4 points per game (ninth-most in the playoffs), was a bigger issue. Moving forward, the Nuggets' offense can expect some positive regression on their three-point shooting, but they will need to improve their defense.

The elephant in the room for Denver's outlook is the strength of the West. Things are about to get much more difficult for the Nuggets, starting with their second-round series versus the Timberwolves. Minnesota was arguably the most impressive team in the first round. Per the Timberwolves-Nuggets series odds at FanDuel Sportsbook, Denver is favored (-205) to win the series, but this will be a difficult test.

The Nuggets remain the favorite to advance from the West, with +110 odds to win the Western Conference.

Oklahoma City Thunder (+800)

Next up is the Thunder, whose odds have shortened from +1600 to +800 since our last update.

After a shaky two-point victory in Game 1, Oklahoma City settled in and swept the New Orleans Pelicans, who did not have Zion Williamson for any of the four games. For an OKC team that is severally lacking in postseason experience, every series counts. An opening-round sweep was an excellent start.

The Thunder's defense was the story of the series. They held the Pelicans to just 89.5 points per game -- the lowest mark in the postseason.

Oklahoma City finished the regular season ranked inside the top five in both aDRTG and adjusted offense rating (aORTG), the only team to do so besides the Celtics. So far, they look like the same team.

Looking ahead, the benefit of being the top seed in the West looms large for OKC. They get to avoid both Denver and Minnesota in the second round and will face the winner of the Dallas Mavericks series against the Los Angeles Clippers, which Dallas currently leads 3-2.

Whoever wins that series will be a step up in competition from the shorthanded Pelicans but won't present the same challenge as Denver and Minnesota. While the Timberwolves and Nuggets will have to be at their best immediately, the Thunder have a more manageable step up in difficulty as they continue to gain postseason experience.

As it stands, the Thunder have the second-best odds to win the West (+300).

Minnesota Timberwolves (+900)

As I eluded to above, the Timberwolves were the class of the NBA in the first round. Following their sweep of the Phoenix Suns, their odds have shortened significantly from our last update -- from +1900 to +800. Before the Play-In Tournament, they had the eighth-best odds to win it all -- now they have the fourth-best.

Entering the postseason, the question was whether or not Minnesota could replicate its regular season success in the playoffs. The answer is an emphatic yes.

Their 118.3 points per game leads the postseason. Their 103.3 points allowed per game ranks sixth. Their +15.0 team plus/minus checks in third. Now the question becomes -- can they continue that success against an elite opponent in Denver?

The T-Wolves' scoring against the Suns indicates that they may be able to do so. The Timberwolves' stout defense was expected as they led the league in aDRTG in the regular season, but their aORTG ranked 17th. Their 118.3 points per game was an excellent sign that they may have found the missing piece. If they can pair improved scoring with their fantastic defense, Minnesota is capable of winning any series the rest of the way.

Now, the Suns are far from a dominant defense as they ranked 14th in aDRTG -- but Denver ranked just ninth. The Timberwolves' uptick in scoring in the first round didn't come from anything that seems unsustainable. They shot 47.7% from the field, which is slightly below their regular season average (48.5%), and 36.6% from behind the arc, also below their average from the regular season (38.7%).

Denver has the edge on experience, but if the Timberwolves maintain their improved play on offense, this series should be really interesting. All eyes will be on Game 1 in Denver on Saturday.

The Timberwolves have +164 odds to win that series and +380 odds to win the West.

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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.