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The Boston Celtics became the first team to advance to the second round on Monday night.
The Celtics finished a sweep of the preseason favorite Brooklyn Nets with a 116-112 win on the road. Boston won each of the four games by seven points or fewer but were clearly the better team over the course of the series as the Nets couldn’t mount serious challenges in the fourth quarters.
The sweep means the Celtics are now at +375 to win the Finals at BetMGM. Those are by far the best Finals odds of anyone in the Eastern Conference and second only to the Warriors (+280) among all playoff teams.
The Warriors became the Finals favorites late last week as it was clear the Suns were in for a fight from the Pelicans and Devin Booker was sidelined with a hamstring injury. Boston was +500 to win the title at that time.
The Celtics’ odds are now far and away better than the Heat and Bucks’ Finals odds despite those teams’ 3-1 advantages in their first-round series. Miami is currently +650 to win the Finals ahead of a potential Game 5 clincher on Tuesday night against the Hawks. The defending champion Bucks are Boston’s likely second-round opponent and are +700 to win the Finals. Milwaukee’s Finals odds are likely skewed a bit by Khris Middleton’s knee injury. His status for a possible second-round series with the Celtics is undetermined.
Brooklyn was +240 ahead of season
Brooklyn’s elimination from the playoff means the two overwhelming preseason favorites for the NBA title aren’t among the final eight teams in the playoffs. Brooklyn was at +240 to win the Finals ahead of the season as a third of the money wagered on preseason Finals bets were on the Nets to win the title.
Those bets made sense at the time. Brooklyn had Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving as well as a healthy Joe Harris to spread the floor. But Harris suffered an ankle injury, Durant missed time with a knee injury, Harden was traded and Irving missed most of the season because he wasn’t vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Los Angeles Lakers were the No. 2 favorite ahead of the season at +400. The Lakers missed the playoffs entirely after getting a quarter of the preseason money and 22% of the bets before the season began.
April 26 NBA Finals odds