The sportsbooks believe that the Denver Nuggets will put up an almighty defense of their NBA Championship during the 2023-24 season – although Nikola Jokic and co are not expected to have things all their own way.
Eastern Conference finalists Boston Celtics and the below-par Milwaukee Bucks are expected to improve on their efforts of last season, and the trio have been installed as the most likely teams to dominate next term.
Although winning consecutive NBA titles is hard, plenty of teams have at least qualified for the Finals in back-to-backs years in the past decade or so – the Warriors, Cavaliers, Heat and the Spurs all doubling up.
So the omens are good for the Nuggets, who celebrated their first-ever Finals victory in their 4-1 demolition of the Heat in June, and those placing their NBA bets will note that Denver is currently priced at odds of 9/2 – the same as the Celtics and the Bucks.
After compiling a 57-25 run in the Eastern Conference, the Celtics were fancied to deliver a deep run into the playoffs and they duly obliged, although their postseason form took a nosedive – they found themselves 0-3 down to the Heat in a race to four in the Conference Finals, and despite rallying had too much to do to salvage the series.
Joe Mazzulla has talent to spare in Boston, but much will depend on whether he can hang onto Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum during the offseason – the former in particular has been heavily linked with a trade elsewhere.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are the first NBA teammates to have twelve 30-point games in a season since Shaq and Kobe in ’02-03 🙌
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 31, 2023
And what can you say about the Bucks? They compiled the best regular season record of anyone before succumbing to the Heat in the first round of the playoffs – a defeat which revealed just how reliant they are on Giannis Antetokounmpo, who effectively missed the first three games due to injury.
They have defensive studs like Brook Lopez and Jrue Holiday, but will the Bucks have the offensive talent to emulate their 2021 glory?
Suns to Shine?
Although trade rumours should be treated with the utmost caution, one off-season move that refuses to go away is the possibility of Bradley Beal joining the Phoenix Suns.
Beal, Devin Booker and Kevin Durant on the same side of the court? That would be a heady mix if new head coach Frank Vogel, who of course led the Lakers to NBA Championship glory in 2020, can find the right balance in Arizona.
The Suns were locked at 2-2 with the Nuggets in their Conference semi-final and were holding their own in Game 5 until Denver’s outstanding third quarter, so it would only take a marginal gain or two for them to challenge for silverware once again. At odds of 6/1, there will be plenty of interest in a team that has, albeit, only reached the NBA Finals once in the past 30 years.
“The Nuggets blew the doors off the Suns in Game 5 behind a 39-point third quarter.”
Tonight’s recap 📰⬇️
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) May 10, 2023
And what of the Warriors, the 9/1 chance with the sportsbooks? Their season seemed to unravel in Game 4 of their Western Conference semi-final against the Lakers, where they shelled a seven-point lead in the final quarter to go down 1-3 in the series and effectively end their chances.
As with the Bucks and Giannis, does Stephen Curry have the supporting cast to take the Warriors closer to glory? Whichever way you look at it, the 2023-24 season is shaping up to be an open and thoroughly entertaining affair.