Miami Heat Have Best Odds to Win NBA Championship, Celtics Rank Ninth at 35-1


Miami Heat Have Best Odds to Win NBA Championship, Celtics Rank Ninth at 35-1When the Duke Blue Devils were shockingly knocked out of the NCAA tournament in the second round, the wheels began turning for freshman guard Austin Rivers.

Much like the one-and-done style his team suffered two weeks ago, the son of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers announced earlier this week his intention to enter the NBA draft and wants to be selected as a lottery pick in the first round.

Rivers, listed at 6-foot-4 and 203 pounds, had an excellent rookie season with Duke. As the top recruit of the Class of 2011, his progress was closely followed, from his exhibition games in China and Dubai to his debut at Duke’s Midnight Madness right through to the tournament. Rivers never faltered along the way. When he hits the NBA, he’ll be just the fourth freshman to leave Duke during Coach Mike Krzyzewski‘s 32 years at the helm.

Everybody is wondering whether the young Rivers will be selected by the Celtics and if he’ll be able to play under his father in Boston. Austin can’t go one interview without being asked about it. He says it doesn’t matter where he ends up, and that may be the right attitude.

The Celtics are currently holding onto a decent lead over the New York Knicks for the seventh-seed in the Eastern Conference, which means they’ll likely bypass the lottery picks iin which Rivers expects to be selected.

The Celtics currently rank ninth among NBA team’s likely to win this year’s championship. Here are the lines for a few of the contenders.

Boston Celtics: 35-1

Memphis Grizzlies: 35-1

Philadelphia 76ers: 35-1

Orlando Magic: 30-1

New York Knicks: 25-1

Miami Heat: 7-4

Boston just finished a grueling eight-game road trip, going 4-4, but will need to pick up the pace as the majority of their remaining games are on the road, where they’re under .500 for the season. Adjusting for their home and road records, the Celtics are on pace to finish 36-30 this season.

Rivers averaged a team-leading 15.5 points for Duke, 3.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. He shot 43.3 percent. However, he was only 65.8 percent from the free throw line. He earned All-America honors – the first for a Duke freshman – and was a first-team All-ACC pick.

Several mock draft sites have Rivers being selected before Boston gets to pick. has him as high as 10th with the Celtics taking Tyler Zeller 17th, has him going 16th to New Jersey, two picks before the Celtics take John Henson, and has him 17th to Denver, one ahead of Boston’s selection of Terrence Ross.

Clearly, there is a realistic possibility that the Celtics can get Rivers, but the freshman is looking up at other guards in freshman Bradley Beal, sophomores Jeremy Lamb and Kendall Marshall, and junior Damian Lillard.

While Rivers has declared he wants to go to the NBA, he does have until April 10 to change his mind and return to the NCAA next season.

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