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Does Kyrie Irving Staying Make Boston the Best Team in the NBA?
All summer, Boston Celtics star point guard Kyrie Irving oddly opted to stay mum on his playing future. While rumors swirled about LeBron James leaving Cleveland, Kawhi Leonard wanting out of San Antonio, and other high-profile players potentially changing teams, Irving refused to quell the fears of Boston fans.
Fortunately, he finally let the cat out of the bag, recently admitting in a public venue that he’d love to continue his career in Boston if the Celtics “would have” him.
That seems to go without saying.
The Celtics morphed into the best team in the Eastern Conference with Irving running the show a year ago. They managed to do so with a slew of young players taking on big roles and Gordon Hayward (ankle) hitting the floor for just one regular-season contest.
With those young players improving by leaps and bounds and Hayward now back to full strength, the future is looking bright for the Celtics.
The present is looking mighty fine as well, with Boston entering the 2018-19 NBA season with some of the best odds to win the NBA Finals.
2018-19 NBA Finals Odds
Here are the latest 2018-19 NBA Finals odds, per SportsBetting.ag.
There is a lot that can be said about this list. Let’s jump straight into it.
Awesome Value vs. No Guarantees
Honestly, the first thing that jumps out is the fact that the Nets share the worst NBA Finals odds with the Kings. I’d probably take them over 3-4 teams that are inexplicably ahead of them.
While there are things to point out at the bottom of the league, it’s obvious you’re getting sick value as things stand with Boston right now.
The Celtics have reached the Eastern Conference Finals in each of the last two years, and a year ago, they even pushed the Cavaliers to a game seven. This was without Irving or Hayward on the floor, while LeBron James was still in Cleveland.
Hayward and Irving are both healthy and should be key players in Boston’s 2018-19 title run – one that shouldn’t have to go through the Cavs.
King James left town for La La Land, which almost certainly drops Cleveland down a peg or five and opens the door for Boston to finally punch their ticket to the Finals.
A spot opens up for the East when it comes to their representative for the Finals, and while that doesn’t mean for sure it’s Boston or that the East’s rep actually wins the title, the top team from the Eastern Conference needs to be considered in NBA betting circles.
Sixers, Raptors, and Bucks
Boston isn’t alone this year, of course.
The Toronto Raptors locked up the #1 seed in the East last year, and now they have Kawhi Leonard in town. They were one of the most efficient and balanced teams at both ends of the court last season, and they got even better.
I don’t think you can scoff at the Sixers or Bucks, either. Giannis Antetokounmpo heads a stacked and rather versatile Milwaukee lineup, while the pairing of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid is quite formidable.
Boston still matches up well with all of these teams, though, and while the top of the East needs to shake itself out, most would agree the Celtics are still the arguable favorites.
Considering that, you need to weigh the competitiveness of this conference against the fact that you’re getting a viable champion at a gross +600 price tag.
Celtics Look Like Long-Term Juggernaut
Not sold on the Celtics taking out the Raptors and surviving the gauntlet that the Eastern Conference has become? That’s at least debatable.
Not sure that even if they do out-last those teams and get to the Finals that they’ll actually win? I can’t blame you for not buying that, either.
There is reason for doubt, but there’s also a ton of reason for optimism.
For the present, I’d say the Raptors are Boston’s only real threat. The Bucks and 76ers are good, and maybe the Wizards will finally make a run to the ECF. But none of those teams are ready to get to the Finals right now.
For 2018-19 alone, I don’t think Kyrie Irving staying in Boston means much. At least, it doesn’t change anything. They’re still the 1A to Toronto’s 1B, and they’re going to have a real shot at a title if they can stay healthy.
However, Irving committing to the Celtics is about extending their championship window, more than anything else.
Most of the key pieces for this franchise are under contract for at least a couple more seasons.
If Boston can’t get the job done this year, the next season or two will have them as the top dog in the Eastern Conference, and depending on how they fare, perhaps that’s the case for many years to come.
Kawhi Leonard isn’t yet making such a bold commitment. He may not be long for Toronto, and judging by the so-so offseason the Sixers had, it’s not inconceivable to think Philly eventually regresses. The same could be said for the Bucks.
The NBA is about windows. A handful of teams have a slim shot at getting to the NBA Finals and/or winning this season. Boston just happens to have made sure they get that shot for several more.
Should you bet on them to win the whole thing this season? That’s ultimately up to you. I wouldn’t go as far as making them a pick right now, but they’re certainly worthy of consideration at their current odds.