The NBA's inaugural In-Season Tournament will begin this fall, as all 30 teams will battle to be the first winner of the regular-season championship. And while the group stage of the tournament won't start until November, the Boston Celtics are already being discussed as favorites in the new competition.
Celtics Betting Trends at @DKSportsbook (7/13)
Best odds to win Atlantic Division (-205)
Best odds to win Eastern Conference (+215)
Best odds to win In-Season Tournament (+700)
2nd best odds to win NBA Finals (+500) pic.twitter.com/cerJcXhr82
— CelticsNation (@CookedByCeltics) July 13, 2023
Of course, the odds can drastically change once the season begins, but let's delve into why the C's could take home the first NBA Cup. Here are three reasons why the Boston Celtics will come out on top during the 2023 NBA In-Season Tournament.
3. The Celtics have the most talent in their group
To understand why the C's are being viewed so favorably by Vegas, you have to evaluate the other teams in their group. Boston is a part of Group C in the Eastern Conference, which also features the Orlando Magic, Chicago Bulls, Toronto Raptors, and Brooklyn Nets.
While all of these opponents have talented players, they arguably don't hold the star power that the C's do. Behind Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and newly-acquired center Kristaps Porzingis, the Celtics have a formidable trio that can dominate on both ends of the floor. Conversely, none of the other Group C squads have established stars like that.
The Raptors are led by two-time All-Star Pascal Siakim, however, his name has been swirling around trade rumors this offseason. Plus, Toronto's former No. 2, point guard Fred VanVleet, left in free agency, leaving Canada's team without another legitimate star.
Brooklyn has the up-and-coming duo of Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson, but they haven't quite reached the next level of stardom. This season could be where they and the Nets take off — especially if Ben Simmons returns — yet as of now, the C's have a better roster.
The Orlando Magic also have blossoming stars, as Paolo Banchero is fresh off winning Rookie of the Year. Their team is very young and inexperienced though, so it's hard to say that what they have compares to Boston's rotation.
Lastly, the Bulls arguably have the most talent besides the C's. They have an all-time great scorer in DeMar DeRozan, a two-time All-Star in Nikola Vucevic, and a burgeoning star in Zach LaVine. Despite their plethora of great players, the Bulls still missed the playoffs and had unreliable production from some of their top guys. Until they show up consistently, it's hard to say their three-headed monster is better than Boston's.
2. The Celtics might be in the worst group
Talent aside, Group C had a rough past season. The Celtics disappointed by losing to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, yet they still posted a better 2022-23 campaign than their counterparts.
The Magic, who are still developing, missed the playoffs and finished 13th in the conference. Chicago, in spite of its greater expectations, went 40-42 and lost in the Play-In Tournament. And perhaps worst of all, the Raptors lost the first Play-In game to the Bulls after being up 19 points in the third quarter. Brooklyn was the only Group C team that made the playoffs alongside the Celtics, but they were quickly swept by the Philadelphia 76ers.
While past results don't dictate the future, the C's are debatably in the easiest group. Group C in the East is tied for the fewest playoff teams with Group B in the West, except they have the reigning champs in the Denver Nuggets as well as the Los Angeles Clippers and New Orleans Pelicans who can be dangerous when healthy.
The Celtics have lost to less talented teams plenty of times in recent memory, but that doesn't change the fact that their group looks a little weaker than most.
1. The Celtics will hopefully be at full strength
When the In-Season Tournament begins in November, the Celtics should be healthy if everything goes according to plan. Porzingis, who's resting due to plantar fasciitis, should be back for training camp and in stride by the time tournament games start.
Kristaps Porzingis has been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis in his right foot and will engage in a 4-to-6-week rehab program, the Celtics announced.
Porzingis is expected to be ready for the start of training camp in the fall. pic.twitter.com/UbLIRIT5vx
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPoints) August 16, 2023
The Green Team's injury issues are always lingering though, so there's no guarantee they'll be in perfect shape early on in the season. However, if Porzingis' recovery stays on track and Malcolm Brogdon keeps rehabbing, perhaps they'll be generally healthy for the first game in group play.
Boston will kick off its In-Season Tournament play against the Nets on Friday, November 10th. And even though a lot can happen between now and then, the Celtics have a good chance to capture the NBA Cup.