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When you think back to the second half of the 2021-22 National Basketball Association season, you do not have to think very hard as to which team was the hottest heading into the playoffs.

Yes, that is right, the Boston Celtics.

Boston made a run to an Eastern Conference title in late spring and took the Golden State Warriors to six games before ultimately falling four games to two.

Then, the crazy offseason happened that threatened to derail all the good vibes from the last campaign. But that chaos that was swirling off the court seems to have been largely a big deal in the media: on the court, the Celtics could not seem to care less about any drama.

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Boston is off to one of the best starts to an NBA season in recent memory: the Celtics were 20-5 through 25 games and running away with the Atlantic Division. Jason Tatum (30.5 ppg.) is playing like a potential MVP, and most sportsbooks agree with that: Tatum is currently in a three-way tie with two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and Luka Doncic at the top of the MVP futures odds.

The sports books are also very high on Boston’s chances to win the NBA title in the summer: right now, the Celtics lead the way at +350, just ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks (+450). In 2023, you will be able to bet on sports using legal MA sportsbooks.

But that is the interesting part of this season so far: the two best teams, BY FAR, are both in the Eastern Conference. Even with its 20-5 start, Boston was just one loss ahead of the Bucks, who got out to an 18-6 start to their campaign.

The two powers have yet to play this year and will open their three-game season series on Christmas Day as the middle contest of five marquee matchups. The teams will then face off on Valentine’s Day and March 30.

Boston is already priced at -2000 to win the Atlantic Division, so that boat has sailed. If you think the Celtics will win the Eastern Conference–and at this point, it is either them or the Bucks, and no one else–you can get Boston at +160. You can’t even bet on the Celtics to make the playoffs right now: that is how much of a lock they are!

Those odds are very unlikely to change very much over the coming months, and in fact, you might get better value if you hold off until after the All-Star break.

When the time comes, though, how do you figure out which way to go backing the Celtics? At this point, if Boston is going to come out of the Eastern Conference, you would have to think it would be a big favorite over whoever comes out of the West in a potential finals matchup.

So, instead of backing the Celtics to win the conference, you can get more than double the odds to win the title. At odds of +350 for what looks (right now) to be a coin flip between them and Milwaukee, that is probably the way to go.

If you or anyone you know has a gambling problem, call 1-800-GAMBLER.

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