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NBA power rankings entering playoffs: Who are favorites to win 2024 NBA Finals?

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The Boston Celtics had the best season in the NBA.

President of basketball operations Brad Stevens built a strong roster, acquiring Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday in the offseason. Joe Mazzulla came into his own in his second season as Boston’s head coach. And it’s tough to beat a team that features multiple All-Stars and All-Defense selections.

The Celtics head into the playoffs as the favorite to win the Eastern Conference. But that doesn’t guarantee anything. They need to win games.

Denver, Oklahoma City, Minnesota, New York and Milwaukee also have plans for a deep playoff run. Who’s in the best position today to make it to the conference finals?

Here are USA TODAY’s NBA playoff power rankings as the first round begins:

Odds via BetMGM.

NBA playoff power rankings

1. Boston Celtics

League’s best record at 64-18, the only team to finish with 60 or more victories and the Celtics were No. 1 in offense, No. 2 in defense and No. 1 in net rating. They have the best starting five: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kristaps Porzingis, Derrick White and Jrue Holiday.

Odds to win title: +160

2. Oklahoma City Thunder

They earned the top seed in the West and were the only other team besides Boston to have a top-five offense and defense – No. 3 and No. 4 for a second-best net rating. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is an MVP candidate, Jalen Williams and Chet Holmgren are headed for All-Star territory and Mark Daigneault is favored to win Coach of the Year.

Odds to win title: +1600

3. Denver Nuggets

Why are the Nuggets so good? Talent, obviously, with Nikola Jokic, who could win his third MVP in four seasons, Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. But no team executes offensively and defensively down the stretch better than the Nuggets, who have the best net rating in clutch time (game within five points with five minutes or less to play).

Odds to win title: +300

4. New York Knicks

Despite significant injuries to Julius Randle (out for the season) and OG Anunoby, the Knicks vaulted to the No. 2 seed, finishing the regular season with five consecutive (and necessary) victories. Jalen Brunson averaged 39.4 points and 7.6 assists and shot 50.7% from the field and 47.5% on 3-pointers in the final five games.

Odds to win title: +4000

5. Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves missed out on the top seed in the West with a loss to Phoenix in the regular-season finale. That’s the same Suns team Minnesota will play in the first round, and the Timberwolves will need that top-ranked defense led by Rudy Gobert and Jaden McDaniels.

Odds to win title: +2000

6. Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers have been impressive at times this season, and at one point late in the season, they were in the running for a top-three seed. With Paul George, James Harden and a healthy Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers are capable of a deep run – they made the conference finals in 2021 – if they can get enough stops.

Odds to win title: +1300

7. Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks finished the season 12-3, getting help offensively and defensively from trade deadline acquisitions Daniel Gafford and P.J. Washington, who have blended well alongside Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.

Odds to win title: +1600

8. Phoenix Suns

Phoenix did what it had to do to avoid the play-in tournament, winning its final three games of the regular season, including the finale against Minnesota, which is the Suns’ first-round opponent. New owner Mat Ishbia has spent major dollars on the roster, starting with Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal.

Odds to win title: +1800

9. Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers were among the best teams in the league in the final two months of the season, and LeBron James and Anthony Davis were fantastic in that stretch – James averaged 26.9 points, 9.3 assists and 7.0 rebounds and shot 57.2% from the field and 43.5% on 3s, and Davis averaged 24.3 points, 13.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks and shot 55.9%.

Odds to win title: +2500

10. Philadelphia 76ers

The 76ers ended the season with eight consecutive victories. All-Star center Joel Embiid returned for five of those games. When healthy, the Sixers are a top team in the East. But is Embiid healthy enough and in the kind of game shape necessary to push and carry the Sixers into the conference finals?

Odds to win title: +1400

11. Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks limped into the playoffs literally and figuratively, losing seven of their last 10 games while All-NBA forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (strained left calf) missed the final three regular-season games. For a team that accumulated 49 victories, it hasn’t been an ideal season, and Antetokounmpo could miss a chunk of the first-round series against Indiana.

Odds to win title: +1400

12. Indiana Pacers

The Pacers’ strong finish kept them out of the play-in game, and their No. 2 offense, led by Tyrese Haliburton, Pascal Siakam and Myles Turner, is difficult to contain. Their 4-1 record against the Bucks this season makes this a doubly intriguing first-round series.

Odds to win title: +10000

13. Cleveland Cavaliers

A 4-6 record to end the regular season cost the Cavaliers a shot at the No. 2 seed and a home loss to Charlotte in the season finale ruled out the No. 3 seed.

Odds to win title: +5000

14. Orlando Magic

The Magic lost four of their final six regular-season games but won game No. 82 to get the fifth seed. Their No. 3 defense should be just fine, but do they have enough offense against Cleveland’s quality defense?

Odds to win title: +20000

15.  New Orleans Pelicans

The Pelicans got in, and that’s great to get players on the roster playoff experience. It’s just too bad Zion Williamson is sidelined with a hamstring injury sustained in a play-in game Tuesday against the Lakers.

Odds to win title: +8000

16. Miami Heat

No Jimmy Butler for the Heat after he sustained a sprained MCL in his right knee against Philadelphia in a play-in game. Yes, it’s the Heat, it’s Erik Spoelstra and it’s Heat Culture. But still, no Jimmy Butler.

Odds to win title: +6000

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