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We're about a quarter of the way through the NBA season, and the title picture is as murky as when we checked in a few weeks ago. Five teams have been given shorter than 10-1 odds to win it all, with no separation between the Clippers (5-2) and Lakers (5-2) atop the oddsboard. Is there value beyond the two L.A. contenders?
Here are the updated title odds as of Thursday, with a few teams moving up and down the board:
|Los Angeles Clippers||5-2|
|Los Angeles Lakers||5-2|
|Portland Trail Blazers||200-1|
|New Orleans Pelicans||500-1|
|San Antonio Spurs||500-1|
|Golden State Warriors||1000-1|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||1000-1|
|New York Knicks||10000-1|
Boston Celtics (18-1)
The Celtics' price has slightly adjusted from 25-1 to 18-1 after a 10-game win streak that helped fuel a 10-4 record in November. Oddsmakers haven't reacted too strongly, which feels appropriate given the level of competition Boston has faced thus far.
However, don't overlook the Celtics if they drop a couple of marquee December games to fellow contenders. Gordon Hayward looked like a man reborn to start the year and should return sometime in December. And no, a broken hand shouldn't stifle his game the way a broken leg did.
Boston feels like a potential sleeping giant in a wide-open Eastern Conference.
Toronto Raptors (40-1)
Entering this week, the Raptors owned the league's best net rating since Nov. 8 and had won seven straight contests before Tuesday's overtime loss to Miami. Even after that result, Toronto is still the No. 3 seed in the East, with Pascal Siakam's incredible encore to his breakout 2018-19 season powering the team.
If you're still dubious of the Raps, you're missing out on great value due to this club's defensive ceiling. Toronto showed us last year that only one offensive star is required to will a well-built team to a title, and Siakam is filling that void beautifully for this experienced group. Don't sleep on the champs.
Dallas Mavericks (50-1)
Given the limitations of their roster, it's hard to believe the Mavericks have posted the NBA's third-best net rating, and they own the fourth seed in the cutthroat West. That's a testament to Luka Doncic's talent, as his MVP-level play is fueling Dallas' top-ranked offense, making the team optimistic about earning its first playoff berth since 2015-16.
It's probably too soon to expect a title run from this group, which was 100-1 a month ago and 80-1 a few weeks ago. Yet the same could be said for Doncic's ascension to superstardom. Be my guest if you want to fade this train, which has bulldozed its way up the oddsboard and could keep climbing into January because of a manageable schedule.
Utah Jazz (40-1)
Utah's odds were 12-1 just a few weeks ago, but the squad started to slip in mid-November amid an uninspiring stretch against the Western Conference. Then came this past week, when the Jazz lost five of six games - including Wednesday's blowout home defeat to the Lakers - to more than double their title odds.
Quin Snyder's teams tend to stumble early, but the talent on this year's Utah roster should be leading to better results. Instead, the offensive woes many feared have returned, and the club's defense hasn't been as strong as years past to carry the Jazz.
Buying a trendy preseason contender at 40-1 could offer good value. But your money might be better spent on teams like the Raptors, Mavericks, or Heat (60-1), which have all put up better per-possession numbers this year at similar odds.
Portland Trail Blazers (200-1)
The Blazers are officially dead, and there's nothing Carmelo Anthony can do to save them. The reigning Western Conference Player of the Week (insert joke here) has actually been a surprisingly helpful addition to Portland's snakebit roster, but Anthony's contributions can't offset the offseason losses and in-season injuries decimating this team's frontcourt.
There's an outside chance Damian Lillard can carry this group that ranks ninth in the West until Zach Collins or Jusuf Nurkic return for a late playoff push. For that reason alone, the Blazers are probably the best buy north of 100-1 odds.
But a lot would need to go right, and so far this season, everything has gone wrong in Portland.
Brooklyn Nets (200-1)
Brooklyn's experiment isn't paying dividends in 2019, and Kyrie Irving's injury isn't an excuse, as the team went 4-7 with him and has gone 6-3 without him. That's enough to keep the Nets in the playoff field, but not enough to justify the 22-1 price from just over a month ago.
The team's title odds stayed low all summer to guard against liability in case Kevin Durant surprisingly came back for the playoffs, which is looking more unlikely by the day given how the Nets' season is playing out. Maybe the dreamer in you wants to buy a Kyrie-KD ticket at 200-1, but you're better off saving up for next year.
C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He's an award-winning journalist with stops at The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Times Herald-Record, and BetChicago. He's also a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea is rivaled only by that of a juicy prop bet. Find him on Twitter @CJacksonCowart.