NBA power rankings: Celtics lead latest championship odds over Nuggets, Clippers, Bucks

There are just six weeks of action left in the NBA regular season and teams are jockeying for position in the NBA standings. Come mid-April, the play-in tournament will set the field for the 2024 NBA playoffs featuring 16 teams battling for the title.

Of those playoff hopefuls, a few look a step ahead already as title favorites before the start of the postseason and the latest NBA championship odds reflect that. The red-hot Boston Celtics maintained their league-best record after a win over the Dallas Mavericks Friday night at home. Two Western Conference teams - the defending champion Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers - are not too far behind them.

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Here's how the latest rankings look with odds from BetMGM:

1. Boston Celtics (+240)

Boston's spent most of the season as the title favorite and remain in the top spot this week. Friday's win in Dallas was the Celtics' 10th in a row and at 47-12 they're seven games clear of Milwaukee in the win column in the East.

The Celtics are the only team in the NBA ranking in the top three in offensive and defensive rating at 122.5 and 111.6, respectively. Jayson Tatum's their top scorer and an MVP candidate this season but is one of three Celtics scoring more than 20 points per game. Kristaps Porzingis ranks 11th in the league in Player Efficiency Rating (PER) at 23.0. That's ahead of the likes of LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Jimmy Butler.

Boston hosts Golden State in a rematch of the 2022 NBA Finals on Sunday. After that, the Celtics head on a five-game road trip.

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2. Denver Nuggets (+450)

The defending champions are rounding into form down the stretch of the season. They've won five in a row since the All-Star break and four of those five wins were by double digits. Nikola Jokić's the favorite to win his third MVP award this season and ranks second in the NBA in PER at 31.3. Jamal Murray's shooting a career-best 42.3% from three-point range and averaging a career-high 6.3 assists per game.

The next three games will be a big test for Denver. Tonight's matchup on the road against the Los Angeles Lakers precedes home games against the Phoenix Suns and the NBA-leading Celtics.

3. Los Angeles Clippers (+475)

The fourth-quarter collapse against the Lakers Wednesday marked the first time the Clippers have lost consecutive games since before Christmas. Los Angeles is 21-8 since then and has risen to fourth in the Western Conference standings. The Clippers, at 38-20, are now just four games back in the win column from the top-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves.

Los Angeles ranks fourth in the NBA in offensive rating (120.1). Though the team as a whole ranks 14th in defensive rating , the Clippers' starting five of James Harden-Paul George-Kawhi Leonard-Terance Mann-Ivica Zubac is one of the best starting groups in the league on that end. Leonard's top 10 in the league in advanced metrics like PER, box plus/minus, and value over replacement player (VORP).

4. Milwaukee Bucks (+700)

Milwaukee's rattled off five straight wins since the All-Star break to ease some concerns over the mid-season move to name Doc Rivers head coach. They'll face a tough test Monday night against the Clippers at home but boast one of the top offenses in the league. The Bucks rank fifth in offensive rating (119.9) and second in points per game (121.5).

Two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo remains in the MVP conversation again this year. Most statistics put him in the top five of the league, especially in advanced metrics. He's fourth league-wide in PER and VORP, third in win shares, and fifth in box plus/minus. Damian Lillard leads the league in free-throw shooting at 92.4%. Milwaukee's starting five of Antetokounmpo, Lillard, Khris Middleton, Malik Beasley, and Brook Lopez is second only to Denver's in net rating at 15.3.

Milwaukee Bucks guard Damian Lillard (0) drives to the hoop during the first half of their game against the Charlotte Hornets Tuesday, February 27, 2024 at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Milwaukee Bucks guard Damian Lillard (0) drives to the hoop during the first half of their game against the Charlotte Hornets Tuesday, February 27, 2024 at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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5. Phoenix Suns (+1600)

There's a big drop off from Milwaukee to Phoenix in odds but the Suns have one of the top scoring tandems in the league in Durant and Devin Booker. The Suns went 7-4 in February to stay in the middle of the Western Conference playoff standings.

After a second game in a row against Houston tonight, Phoenix has a tough stretch of opponents. They'll take on two of the top teams in the Western Conference standings - Denver and Oklahoma City - before facing the NBA-leading Celtics on March 9 and March 14. If they can win three of those four marquee games, look for the Suns' odds to move closer to the top four.

Next five: New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder (+2200); Cleveland Cavaliers, Minnesota Timberwolves (+2500); Dallas Mavericks (+3000)

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Celtics lead NBA power rankings from latest championship odds