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Celtics to open season as championship favorites

Bettors believe Boston's Finals appearance last year was no fluke and a strong summer could push them over the top.

Boston Celtics v Miami Heat - Game Seven Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

According to our friends at DraftKings, the Celtics will start the 2022-2023 as the favorite to run a championship next season at +500 with the Clippers (+600), Warriors (+600), and Bucks (+700) trailing behind.

Even if last year's Finals run was aided by the self-destructive nature of the Nets and Khris Middleton's absence in the Milwaukee series, it's hard to not at least pick them coming out of the East. The Bucks will come back whole with a few new additions and Philadelphia retooled by adding P.J. Tucker (a considerable subtraction from the Heat) and De'Anthony Melton, but Boston's rising stock from last January is still on the up and up.

The Celtics are still relatively young. With Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart just entering their prime, last year's Finals run feels more like a start than a culmination, a proof positive that Boston is on the right track. By virtue of being together another year under new head coach Ime Udoka, the Celtics should hit the floor running rather than suffer the growing pains that frustrated them through December last year.

There's also this summer's makeover. Brad Stevens did nothing to mess with what was already working. The Celtics will still field the starting lineup of Smart-Brown-Tatum-Horford-Williams that steamrolled the league after January. Instead, the Celtics PoBO revamped the second unit with a pair of accomplished veterans in Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari. As one NBA executive told Heavy's Steve Bulpett, "he’ll be good for them. Going to Boston, with strong people around him, unfortunately, yes, he’ll be good for them. I think he’s going to make them a lot better — which p***es me off.”

There are of course still some concerns. The Celtics could use a backup center to soak up minutes if the 36-year-old Horford and oft-injured Williams miss games. Another two-way wing would only strengthen last season's #1 defense. The good news is that Stevens still has three open roster spots to fill before training camp starts in September and if you're a bettor and moreso a Celtics fan, those moves could only help solidify those championship wagers and Banner 18.

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