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Clips and save? Title futures point to surprise favorite in L.A.

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Not the Lakers or Warriors, Celtics or Bucks. The Los Angeles Clippers are the team sportsbooks view as the most complete entering the 2022-23 regular season.

NBA championship futures on opening night indicate the race for the title includes a top tier that falls short of recent preseason favorites. The Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, Golden State Warriors and Clippers are either favorites or co-favorites in the neighborhood of +600 in 2023 NBA championship futures at regulated U.S. sportsbooks.

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The Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets represent the second tier at around 10-1.

With Kawhi Leonard returning from a torn ACL that kept him off the court all of last season, the Clippers’ history of resting players in back-to-back situations limits their short-term upside and wins projections futures.

FanDuel and BetRivers list Milwaukee as the favorite to win the title. At FanDuel, the Bucks are +550, ahead of the Celtics (+600), Clippers (+700) and Warriors (+700). BetRivers has Milwaukee as the co-favorite with the Celtics at +600.

Then again, the defending champion Warriors began last season in the +1400 range as a consensus. The Phoenix Suns and Brooklyn Nets were hailed as favorites on opening night last season.

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Using projected win totals as a guide, the Celtics are at 53.5, pointing to parity and perhaps indicating books were inviting the investment while liking the chances of other teams. One of these teams at SuperBook is the Clippers, who have the highest neutral-court power ranking entering the season.

“They’re so deep and the pieces fit,” SuperBook VP Jeff Sherman of risk management told ESPN. “I opened [their title odds] excessively low. I wanted to make sure anyone who wanted to bet the Clippers was going to bet them elsewhere.”

FanDuel has the Suns (+1000) behind the Nets (+900).

The Suns are +1300, even with the 76ers, at Caesars even after a dominant regular season in 2021-22 and re-signing restricted free agent DeAndre Ayton. Phoenix is ahead of the Denver Nuggets (+1600) and Lakers (+1800).

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The “longshot” — defined by a team with +1400 odds or greater — getting the most attention at BetMGM is the Memphis Grizzlies. Ja Morant’s club is +2200 at Caesars and DraftKings.

Luka Doncic is the MVP favorite at DraftKings (+425) over Joel Embiid of the 76ers (+650) and Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (+900), who won the award the past two seasons.

Morant is +1500 to win MVP at DraftKings.

Jokic is +1200 and sixth at Caesars, where Doncic is +390, Giannis Antetokounmpo (+575) rates second and Embiid (+650) third ahead of Jayson Tatum (+1000) and Kevin Durant (+1100).

–Field Level Media

Check out our sports section for the latest news and analysis. Care for a wager? Head to our sports betting section for news and odds.

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