Basketball

Contenders for the NBA Championship in 2023

We’re past the halfway mark of the 2022-23 NBA season and what a treat it has been! The campaign so far has been very exciting, with many closely-fought games in both conferences.

With more than half of the games now played, we’ve got a good sense of which teams are contenders to go all the way in the playoffs. Of course, there is still a lot to play for and an injury or two could completely change a club’s prospects, but we can get a general gist of where the season is heading.

So which basketball teams are most likely to pick up the NBA Championship later this year?

Boston Celtics – 5/2

After making it all the way to the NBA Finals last year, the Boston Celtics are currently the favourites in the NBA betting outright markets. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that they’re up there, after all, they have been in contention for almost every season in the last decade.

That said, the Celtics haven’t won an NBA Championship since 2008, so the team is hungry to change this.

The team came close to doing it last season and got their first Finals campaign in 12 years off to a good start by going 1-0 up and then 2-1 up by the end of the third game. However, they ran out of steam and lost the next three matches on the run, with the Golden State Warriors taking the glory.

In 2022-23, the Boston Celtics have shown the world that they won’t let that defeat hold them back. With 66 games played, the team sits second in the Eastern Conference, behind only the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Celtics’ roster has not radically changed from last season, and Jayson Tatum is proving his worth again. He’s currently enjoying the best NBA season of his career, with the sixth-highest points average in the entire sport. He’s backed up by Jaylen Brown, Malcolm Brogdon, Derrick Write, and Marcus Smart, forming a formidable force that could flourish in the Finals.

NBA Championship

Phoenix Suns – 4/1

Next up is the Phoenix Suns as the second favourites to win this year’s NBA Championship, a team that will be hoping to improve on their anticlimactic postseason performance from last year.

Despite topping the Western Conference with a 64-18 record, the Suns were dunked out of the playoffs by the Dallas Mavericks in the conference semifinals. Phoenix did put up a good fight though, pushing the Texan team to the wire to finish 4-3 behind.

The Suns are yet to win an NBA Championship, despite making it to the Finals on three occasions. The most recent was in 2021 when they were sent packing by the Milwaukee Bucks 4-2.

Things haven’t looked quite as good for the Suns this year. Despite being the second favourite, the team sits fourth in the Western Conference with a 33-29 record, behind the Nuggets, Grizzlies, and Kings and just one win ahead of the Golden State Warriors.

Of course, fourth would be enough to secure a playoff place and the slate will be wiped clean, so the sun could still be shining over Phoenix later this year.

Milwaukee Bucks – 11/2

The Milwaukee Bucks have won a division title in every NBA season since 2018-19 and look set to manage that again in 2022-23. Last year, they were dumped out of the playoffs by the Celtics at the conference semifinals, losing 4-3 despite being in control for much of the seven games.

Sitting at the top of the Eastern Conference with a 44-17 record, few people would consider writing them off. That’s especially true when you consider they’ve got Giannis Antetokounmpo, a power forward with the fourth-highest points average and second-most rebounds so far this season – another player currently performing at his best.

So far, the Bucks have converted 66% of their NBA Finals appearances into NBA Championships, so you definitely can’t write them off if they can make it to the final set of games during the playoffs.

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