LAS VEGAS (AP) — The offseason moves by the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks got the attention of the NBA world and those who bet on the sport, which opened its season Tuesday night.
Boston is the favorite at FanDuel Sportsbook at 37-10 to win the championship and Milwaukee is right behind at 41-10.
They are co-favorites at BetMGM at 4-1 each. At Caesars Sportsbook, those teams along with the reigning champion Denver Nuggets are among the top three teams bet on in terms of numbers of tickets and amount of money wagered.
The Celtics landed Jrue Holiday and traded for Kristaps Porzingis, and Milwaukee traded for Damian Lillard.
“It’ll be interesting to see how both teams gel early on,” said David Lieberman, who handles NBA betting for Caesars. “But both of them ever since that Lillard trade are probably the two most popular futures. The hype is strong for both teams.”
Boston has had the team to win it all recently, but fell in six games to the Golden State Warriors in the 2022 NBA Finals and went out in seven to the Miami Heat in last season’s Eastern Conference finals.
Milwaukee went all the way in 2021, but the Bucks failed to get out of the conference the past two seasons.
CHAMPS DRAWING ATTENTION
Even though the Celtics and Bucks won the offseason, most of the money at Caesars has gone to the Nuggets to win the title for the second year a row.
Denver is second to Boston in the total number of tickets.
“The Nuggets are obviously the best in the West right now,” Lieberman said. “It’s kind of hard to see who beats them, but anything can happen. It will be interesting to see if one of the Eastern teams can knock them off if they do end up in the Finals.”
The Nuggets are the top favorite in the Western Conference at FanDuel at 5 1/2-1 to win the NBA championship. They are 27-10 favorites to win the West.
Denver leads the percentage of tickets at BetMGM to win the championship at 19.1% and highest handle at 32.4%. The handle, which is the money bet, isn’t close. The next highest is the Phoenix Suns at 14.1%.
WEMBY GETTING INTEREST
San Antonio Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama is the most hyped prospect in many years, and he’s playing in an organization with a rich history.
The Spurs, however, were picking No. 1 overall for a reason after going 22-60.
“There’s a lot of love for the Spurs,” Lieberman said. “That’s not necessarily surprising. It’s the Wemby hype. I think they’ll be improved. There are a lot of good teams in the NBA. They’ll be competitive, but I don’t see them winning the West or winning the championship.”
For those interested in a flyer on the Spurs, they are 500-1 at FanDuel.
The West is again the best, and just winning the conference won’t be easy.
Four of the top six teams, according to FanDuel, play in that conference. In addition to the Nuggets, contenders include the Suns (11-2), Los Angeles Lakers (13-1) and Warriors (14-1).
The latter three finished behind Sacramento in the standings last season, but the Kings are longshots at FanDuel at 50-1. They were quiet this offseason compared to many other teams, which didn’t help drive betting action.
“Last season, we took a lot more Kings money, and they haven’t been quite as big of a choice this year,” Lieberman said.
Some Caesars bettors are thinking big.
One in Pennsylvania placed $2,000 on the Minnesota Timberwolves at 75-1 that would pay $150,000. Two bettors took shorter odds on the Nuggets — one in Nevada played $30,000 on them at 4-1 to win $120,000 and one in Colorado wagering $14,000 at 19-4 for a $66,500 payday.
In North Carolina, someone went for the longshot Oklahoma City Thunder at 75-1, hoping $1,500 would result in a $112,500 win. And a New Jersey bettor gambled $6,000 on the Los Angeles Clippers at 18-1, which would pay $108,000.
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