The Boston Celtics have yet to earn much respect from NBA fans. Here's a team that finished as the top seed in the Eastern Conference, they have a shooting star in Isaiah Thomas, they arguably have the league's top coach, and they've persevered through some hardship this post-season.

In regard to the latter point, their star player lost a sibling immediately before the start of the NBA playoffs, and he made an emotional recovery in time to help his team fight back from a 0-2 deficit in the first round. All that being the case, the Celtics remain way out at 20 To 1 with some sportsbooks (i.e., BetVictor) in the antepost market for the NBA title.

Golden State and Cleveland loom large

Certainly, a big reason that the Celtics are still considered longshots to win the NBA title is that of both the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Those two franchises have met in two straight NBA Finals, and that streak could continue this season. However, the Cs, at the time of writing, are out in front in their second-round series against the Washington Wizards. Golden State is one matter, but Boston probably should not be considered that far behind the Cavs as second favorites for the NBA title.

After all, Cleveland are not the most convincing team in the NBA right now. Some games in their first-round series either hinged on one play or just a few minutes of game time.

Furthermore, the Cavs are a team that did very poorly down the stretch of the regular season. They may have Lebron James, but they still have a tough second-round series coming up against the Toronto Raptors, a team that extended Cleveland to six games last season. It could be that Boston, with a one-game lead and home-court advantage in the Eastern Conference finals, should be considered of similar caliber to Cleveland, keeping in mind that the Cavs went 12-15 after the All-Star break.

Cleveland priced at 7 to 2

However, where BetVictor sportsbook has Boston at 20 to 1 to win the title, the Cavaliers are just 7 to 2. The respective math would mean that Boston has about a 5% chance of winning the title while Cleveland would have a 22% chance. Golden State are the bigshots in the market and deservingly so. But Boston must be considered stronger than just a peripheral contender given the totality of the picture.

Again, they have an excellent scorer, a better winning percentage from the regular season than Cleveland, a good head coach, a one-game lead in their second-round series, home-court advantage should they advance to the conference finals, and they've persevered through hardship already. In truth, Boston might best be viewed as co-2nd favorites with Cleveland while perhaps Toronto and especially Washington should be considered major longshots.

As it always the case, playoffs won't be settled by betting odds. However, they do provide some insight into what people think, whether bettors themselves or odds-setters.

I'm not sure that I can align my opinion with what must be the general prevailing one. As I see it, Golden State are the clear favorites for the title, and then Cleveland and Boston are pretty tight at about

Golden State are the clear favorites for the title and then Cleveland and Boston are pretty tight at about 6 to 1 for true odds. Accordingly, the betting odds that put Boston out at about 20 to 1, underrate their chances while Cleveland are over-rated at 7 to 2.