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The 8 NBA teams that can win the championship this season

The All-Star break is over and it’s time to look ahead to the stretch run of the NBA season.

The Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets sit atop their respective conferences. The Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks took huge swings at the deadline to try to stay in the hunt. Teams like the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Clippers will be in the mix again — and you can’t sleep on the defending champions Golden State Warriors or young and hungry Memphis Grizzlies.

While many teams likely still think they’re in contention, eight teams are at +1600 or better to win the Larry O’Brien trophy, according to DraftKings. Let’s take a look at those eight contenders and where they stand as the NBA races to the finish line.

Boston Celtics (44-18, +250)

The Celtics look like easily the deepest team in the NBA. They’ve had key players miss time throughout the season and still managed to have the league’s best record at the break — though they’ve since fallen behind red-hot Milwaukee. They got even deeper at the deadline acquiring stretch big Mike Muscala from the Oklahoma City Thunder.

It appears the key to Boston’s quest to a title is simply health. The team that was good enough to reach the Finals last season is mostly intact with Malcolm Brogdon and Muscala joining a strong bench unit alongside Derrick White and Grant Williams. Marcus Smart, Al Horford and Robert Williams, three of the keys to the Celtics’ top-rated defense last year, have missed chunks of the season. If that trio is healthy — and Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown keep playing at such a high level — Boston still looks like the East favorite.

Phoenix Suns (32-28, +450)

The Suns haven’t been able to weather the injury storm as well as the Celtics. Devin Booker and Chris Paul have both missed a lot of time and Phoenix sits at fourth in the West. But by landing Kevin Durant in a trade deadline blockbuster, the Suns have the second-best odds of winning the NBA title.

Health is going to be huge for Phoenix. Durant, 34, has missed his last 20 games with a MCL sprain and Paul, 37, has missed 21 games this season. Continuity will be a factor too, but Durant could easily fit in to just about any team. If the trio of Durant, Paul and Booker is healthy, the Suns will be the most dangerous team in the West. Deandre Ayton should eat off of those three perimeter threats, but we’ll see how their bench holds up after losing so much depth to acquire Durant.

Milwaukee Bucks (44-17, +500)

The Bucks came into the break as the East’s hottest team and have kept it going, extending their win streak to 15. Giannis Antetokounmpo is nursing a right wrist injury, but Milwaukee reportedly dodged a bullet with the severity of that injury. The Bucks overtook the Celtics for the East’s top spot, despite three-time All-Star Khris Middleton playing just 20 games and still rounding into form.

What’s largely fueled Milwaukee’s recent run is the the team’s supporting cast. Jevon Carter and Grayson Allen have been fixtures in the Bucks’ starting lineup and both are contributing in a big way, knocking down over 40 percent of their threes. Jrue Holiday (finally) was an All-Star again and Brook Lopez is aging like Benjamin Button. Adding Jae Crowder, who’s looked good in three games after so much time off, could add another playoff-proven contributor to the rotation. With Giannis avoiding serious injury, the Bucks seem poised to keep rolling down the stretch.

Denver Nuggets (42-18, +750)

The Nuggets have the reigning two-time MVP and the best record in the West … yet find themselves with the fourth-best odds. Rough scene. Nikola Jokic is the favorite to capture his third straight MVP award and the rest of the roster is healthy for the first time in forever, setting up what should be a deep playoff run for Denver.

Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. finding their groove has been huge, but so have the additions of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Bruce Brown. KCP is knocking down 45 percent of his threes and fitting in to the Nuggets’ equal opportunity offense. Brown’s Swiss Army Knife skill set has been welcomed. Denver also added Thomas Bryant to fix their backup center issues and plucked Reggie Jackson off the buyout market — though the early returns on those additions haven’t been as promising.

Los Angeles Clippers (33-30*, +1000)

The Clippers are such a wildcard. They have a deep rotation that hasn’t been fully healthy and then shook up their rotational mix at the deadline. Gone are Reggie Jackson, John Wall and Luke Kennard. In are Eric Gordon, Bones Hyland, Mason Plumlee, and Russell Westbrook. So, what are we to make of the new-look Clippers?

Health (are you sensing a theme?) will be almost everything for L.A. Paul George and Kawhi Leonard have been in and out of the lineup. Though, if you’ve watched Kawhi recently, he’s looked like second three-peat Michael Jordan. Over his last 18 games, he’s averaging 28.7 points with bonkers shooting splits (54.4/49.5/91.6). The acquisitions of Gordon and Plumlee feel like upgrades. The Westbrook pickup is confusing, especially with the former MVP getting the opportunity to start and taking minutes from Gordon and Terance Mann. We’ll see if the signing works out, but color me skeptical.

Philadelphia 76ers (39-21, +1200)

Speaking of wildcards, who knows what to make of the Sixers. Philly was the hottest team in the NBA from early December through January and followed it up by losing three of five — with the losses being arguably their three worst of the season. They also have a gauntlet March schedule and have already lost two of three coming out of the break.

The Joel Embiid-James Harden duo has been excellent. In over 1,000 minutes together this season, the duo has produced a 9.84 net rating. The issues for Philly arise when those two are off the floor, and Doc Rivers’ insistence on using bench-heavy lineups. The Sixers might have found their answer at backup center in the rugged P.J. Tucker, but Philly’s bench — and Rivers’ deployment of that bench — remains suspect.

Memphis Grizzlies (37-23, +1600)

The Grizzlies have been a little up and down this season, but still sit in second out West. The team has desperately missed Steven Adams, who’s been out since Jan. 22 with a PCL sprain. Memphis has dropped five of eight during that time.

There’s likely nobody that misses Adams more than All-Star Ja Morant. Morant has seen a slight dip in efficiency without Adams’ bone-crushing screens helping pave the way. Still, the Grizzlies are a deep squad. Jaren Jackson Jr. is the favorite for Defensive Player of the Year and Desmond Bane’s ascension continues. Luke Kennard adds elite shooting to the mix, and Memphis’ slew of young and willing defenders provide balance.

Golden State Warriors (31-30*, +1600)

The Warriors feel like a sleeping giant … which is probably why DK is giving them the eighth-best title odds despite Golden State being the current seventh seed. The West is very bunched up. The Warriors are only a game back of the fourth-place Suns in the loss column.

It’s all about health. Steph Curry has only played in 38 games and is currently out of the lineup with multiple leg injuries. Draymond Green had a recent injury scare but should be returning to the lineup. And who knows what’s going to happen with Gary Payton II, a key cog from last season’s team that was reacquired but is dealing with an adductor injury. Through it all, Klay Thompson has been playing at arguably an All-Star level, averaging 22.1 points a game while hoisting over 10 threes a game and hitting over 40 percent of them.

Steph missed the last 12 games of the regular season last year before leading a Finals run. Can the Warriors get healthy just in time again?

*This post was completed before the conclusion of the Clippers’ and Warriors’ games went final Tuesday night

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