NBA Championship System favors Boston Celtics

Our friends at ASA, in particular Lee Kostroski, are ready for the NBA Playoffs and they break down how to handicap the winner of the 2024 NBA Finals! Don't forget to use our Caesars Sportsbook Promo Code to get more when you wager.

NBA Championship Predictions based on Math!

So, you're thinking about a future wager on the NBA Championship and you're not sure who to take? We can help you with some proven statistics that may accurately predict who this year's Champion may be and rule out the most obvious media darling pretenders.

The backbone of this research is centered around efficiency ratings/rankings compiled through the regular season and is a tool I first discovered in the early 2000’s. Since then, I have seen several variations of my original work from other experts in the field, but here is the authentic version.

The average overall efficiency rating this season in the NBA was 1.153 points scored/allowed per possession. The Boston Celtics were the most efficient offense in the NBA at 1.232 points per possessions while the Minnesota Timberwolves held the best defensive efficiency rating in the league of 1.090 points allowed per/possession.  If past history tells us anything, these numbers can be extremely useful in predicting this year's eventual NBA Champion.

This trend started in 2008-09 when the Finals featured the Los Angeles Lakers with head coach Phil Jackson and Hall of Fame player Kobe Bryant, facing the Orlando Magic and a young Dwight Howard.

The Lakers won that Finals series in dominating fashion, finishing off the Magic in five games.

The Lakers finished the regular season ranked 3rd in offensive efficiency ratings (OEFF) and 6th in defensive efficiency (DEFF). Orlando had efficiency numbers that ranked them 12th in OEFF and 1st in DEFF. This was the beginning of the "efficiency" Champions.

Despite having average defensive efficiency ratings, the Denver Nuggets won the 2023 NBA Finals. (Getty)

NBA Champions leads to Efficiency

Below are the Finals Champions and their overall efficiency rankings for the past 15 Championships.

2008-09 - LA Lakers (OEFF = 3rd, DEFF = 6th)
2009-10 - LA Lakers (OEFF = 11th, DEFF = 4th)
2010-11 - Dallas Mavericks (OEFF = 8th, DEFF = 7th)
2011-12 - Miami Heat (OEFF = 8th, DEFF = 4th)
2012-13 - Miami Heat (OEFF = 1st, DEFF = 9th)
2013-14 - San Antonio Spurs (OEFF = 7th, DEFF = 3rd)
2014-15 - Golden State Warriors (OEFF = 2nd, DEFF = 1st)
2015-16 - Cleveland Cavaliers (OEFF = 3rd, DEFF = 10th)
2016-17 - Golden State Warriors (OEFF = 1st, DEFF = 2nd)
2017-18 - Golden State Warriors (OEFF = 3rd, DEFF = 11th)
2018-19 - Toronto Raptors (OEFF = 5th, DEFF = 5th)
2019-20 - LA Lakers Covid (OEFF = 11th, DEFF = 3rd)
2020-21 - Milwaukee Bucks (OEFF = 6th, DEFF = 10th)
2021-22 - Golden State Warriors (OEFF = 16th, DEFF = 2nd)
2022-23 - Denver Nuggets (OEFF 5th, DEFF = 13th)

You can see for yourself that there have only been two teams that have won a Championship in the last fifteen years that had an (offensive efficiency) OEFF or (defensive efficiency) DEFF NOT in the top 11 for that season.

It has been the last two Champs in the Golden State Warriors in 21-22 and the Denver Nuggets last season.  Every team that has won a Championship in the past 15 Finals has specifically had a Defensive Efficiency ranking in the top 13 at the end of the regular season. 

Using this model (top 11 OEFF and top 13 in DEFF) to predict this year’s Champion we can eliminate everyone but the following teams:

  • Celtics
  • Thunder
  • Nuggets
  • Knicks
  • Suns
  • Pelicans.

On the outside looking in is Philadelphia who we know played a portion of the season without an MVP type player in Joel Embiid. The Sixers were 13th in OEFF and 11th in DEFF this season.

Another team who we pegged prior to the start of the season at +2500 to win it all, who falls outside of this parameter, is the Mavericks. The Mavs rank 10th in OEFF on the season but don’t qualify defensively, ranking 18th in DEFF for the year. But, since the All-Star break the Mavs defense has been infinitely better, ranking 12th in defensive efficiency allowing 1.134 PPP.

The NBA Playoffs Contenders...

When using the 2023-24 NBA Regular Season Efficiency Rankings for the Math Model, we've come up with the six clubs to watch in the NBA Playoffs.

Boston Celtics: OEFF 1st, DEFF 3rd
Oklahoma City Thunder: OEFF 3rd, DEFF 4th
Denver Nuggets: OEFF 5th, DEFF 8th
New York Knicks: OEFF 7th, DEFF 9th
New Orleans Pelicans: OEFF 11th, DEFF 7th
Phoenix Suns: OEFF 9th, DEFF 13th 

Let’s also take into consideration how these teams fared this season against the other top 16 teams in the league based on their straight up (SU) records

Celtics: 27-14
Thunder: 27-18
Timberwolves: 26-19
Nuggets: 28-18
Knicks: 17-23
Suns: 23-22

Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks are hoping to make a deep run in the 2024 NBA Playoffs. (Getty)

Not On The NBA must-bet list!

Dallas Mavericks +1600
Los Angeles Clippers +1600

As we mentioned above the Mavericks would make this list if we tabulated stats from the All-Star break on. Dallas made some moves prior to the trade deadline and brought in PJ Washington and Daniel Gafford which improved their defense dramatically. Offensively this team has two of the best players on the planet, Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving who can each single-handedly take over a game on the offensive end of the court. The Clippers go as far as a healthy Kawhi Leonard can take them. Unfortunately, we don’t know Leonard’s status but “Playoff Kawhi” is as good as any player historically in the NBA in the postseason. L.A. is loaded with All-Star level talent with Paul George, James Harden, Russell Westbrook along with Leonard and it wouldn’t surprise us to see them in the Finals. The Clippers ranked 4th in Offensive Efficiency this season but were 16th defensively. 

Our NBA Money is on the..

Boston Celtics +160

Everyone talks about a “Big 3” when it comes to NBA Super Teams, but you could argue that the Celtics have a “Big 5” with a starting lineup that includes: Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Kristaps Porzingis, Jrue Holiday and Derrick White.

Let’s not forget to mention the Celtics bench with Sam Hauser, Al Horford, Luke Kornet and Payton Pritchard, just to name a few, who helped Boston have the best bench Net Rating in the NBA at +6.2.  

As we previously mentioned, the Celtics had the best record in the NBA against the top 16 teams in the league this season at 27-14. They ranked 1st in OEFF and 3rd defensively. They had the best average Margin of Victory per game at +11.3 overall. They won at home by an average of +15.2PPG and had a road average differential of +7.5PPG, all best MOV’s in the league.

The Celtics have the advantage of home court throughout the Playoffs where they were near unbeatable. They were 20-4 SU versus other playoff teams on their floor this season. Boston may not have to face either Joel Embiid or Giannis Antetokounmpo in the Eastern Conference Finals, and even though the Knicks qualify for an Efficiency Championship, we don’t think they are deep enough to beat the Celtics in a 7-game series. 

Overall, this shapes up to be one of the best NBA playoffs in a long time and we can't wait!

Best of luck with all your wagers this postseason!

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