Boston Celtics: nba FUTURES & BETTING ODDS
The Boston Celtics possess a storied history rivaled only by one other NBA franchise – the Los Angeles Lakers.
Boston began play in 1947 in the BAA, which combined with the NBL to form the NBA in 1949. Initially, a bet on the Boston Celtics was a terrible idea, as Boston failed to post a winning season in its first four campaigns. However, in 1950, the team hired legendary coach Red Auerbach, who would change the Boston Celtics odds and the entirety of the NBA.
But it took some time. Auerbach and the Celtics didn’t even make the NBA Finals in his first six seasons at the helm, despite having excellent players like HOF C Ed Macauley, HOF G Bill Sharman, and HOF G Bob Cousy. However, in 1956, the Celtics traded Macauley to the St. Louis Hawks in order to acquire the #2 pick in the draft, in which they selected University of San Francisco’s Bill Russell.
Instantly, the Boston Celtics odds skyrocketed. Russell transformed the team from perennial contender to legendary dynasty. A bet on the Boston Celtics would never be more prudent, as te Celtics won the NBA championship in eleven out of the next thirteen seasons. The only two years the Celtics failed to win the championship between 1956 & 1969 was ’57-’58, when they lost to Macauley and the Hawks, and in ’66-’67, when they were knocked out in the Eastern Division Finals by Wilt Chamberlain and the Philadelphia 76ers.
Auerbach actually retired in the middle of the Celtics’ run and had Russell take over as a player-coach for three years. After the ’68-’69 season, Russell retired, ending maybe the greatest run in professional sports history. But many of the other Boston greats remained, and the Celtics kept themselves in the title picture, and the Boston Celtics odds of winning a title remained high. Powered by HOF Guards John Havlicek and Jo Jo White and HOF C Dave Cowens, a bet on the Boston Celtics to win more championships would pay both in ’73-’74 & ’75-’76.
Havlicek retired in 1978, and many expected the Boston Celtics odds to plummet. However, Auerbach, who had remained in a front-office capacity since stepping down as coach, took Indiana St. forward Larry Bird sixth overall in the 1978 draft, even though Bird had declared he would stay and finish his college career. Bird joined the team for the ’79-’80 campaign, and immediately improved the Boston Celtics odds. Boston added three more championships to their trophy room, in ’80-’81, ’83-’84, & ’85-’86. Those Celtics teams featured not only Bird, but HOF greats like Robert Parrish and Kevin McHale.
It was at this point the Lakers-Celtics rivalry reached its highest point. Until then, a bet on the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals would’ve been like printing money, as the Celtics had won eight straight Finals matchups versus. the Lakers, dating back to 1959. However, the Lakers won the ‘84-’85 & ’86-’87 Finals, highlighted by the great matchup of Magic Johnson vs. Larry Bird.
By the end of the ‘80s, however, the Boston Celtics odds plummeted as the team entered a rebuild. New teams like the physical Detroit Pistons and the flashy Chicago Bulls reigned atop the Eastern Conference, and while the Celtics were perennial playoff members, they didn’t get back to the NBA Finals until two decades later.
Early in the 2000s, the team made several moves to get back to the title picture. Boston hired former Orlando head coach Doc Rivers in 2004, then traded for stars Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in 2007, to pair with longtime Celtics star Paul Pierce and PG Rajon Rondo. Almost immediately, GM Danny Ainge’s moves paid off. The Celtics finished 66-16 and captured the #1 seed in the East. Boston dispatched pesky Detroit in the Eastern Conference Finals and finally made another appearance in the NBA Finals, where they faced off with legendary nemesis Los Angeles. Sure enough, a bet on the Boston Celtics would pay, as Boston would win its 17th NBA title in six games.
Two years later, the Celtics and Lakers met again in the Finals. But this time, a bet on the Boston Celtics would not pay, as the Lakers won their 16th NBA title in a tightly-fought seven game series.
Since then, Boston has been a perennial playoff contender, but has fallen short of yet another trip to the Finals. Rivers coached for three more years, then left to coach the LA Clippers. New coach Brad Stevens went 25-57 in his first season, but shrewd trades built a strong young core that has appeared in the playoffs in each of the past six seasons. Whether Boston’s young stars can make the leap and win yet another title for the franchise remains to be seen, but there are plenty of retired numbers and championship banners in the TD Garden to root them on.
Championships: 17 (1957, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1974, 1976, 1981, 1984, 1986, 2008)
00: Robert Parish
1: Walter A. Brown
2: Red Auerbach
3: Dennis Johnson
5: Kevin Garnett
6: Bill Russell
10: Jo Jo White
14: Bob Cousy
15: Tom Heinsohn
16: Satch Sanders
17: John Havlicek
18: Dave Cowens
19: Don Nelson
21: Bill Sharman
22: Ed Macauley
23: Frank Ramsey
24: Sam Jones
25: K.C. Jones
31: Cedric Maxwell
32: Kevin McHale
33: Larry Bird
34: Paul Pierce
35: Reggie Lewis
LOSCY: Jim Loscutoff