It won't be easy. No team has won the Eastern Conference four years in a row since the Celtics of the 1960s. Let's take a look at the NBA odds, courtesy of TopBet sportsbook.
Miami Heat (-120 Eastern Conference, +250 NBA Title)
This time four years ago, we were talking about potential dynasties, and the question mark followed the Heat all the way until they won the title in 2012 and now again in 2013. Now the Heat are in a position that only Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics have done: win the Eastern Conference for a fourth-straight season. They are the only team laying money in the conference future odds, and for very good reason.
Miami has just gotten better with the signing of Greg Oden, (assuming he can give them 10-20 minutes per night) and even though the rest of the East is quickly catching up to Miami, the Heat sure look like a nice bet. Basketball future odds are a much safe bet normally, but in an improved East, it would only take one or two long-term injuries for the Heat to become vulnerable. After playing 100 games a season for the last three seasons in a row, the Heat (Dywane Wade especially) could start to break down prematurely against some of these hungry young teams. However it’s as close to a safe sports pick as you’re going to get.
Chicago Bulls (+400 Eastern Conference, +900 NBA Title)
The Bulls are the next highest EC team in the betting odds, but the Heat have beaten them twice in the last three years in seven-game series (albeit last season the Bulls were down 2.5 starters in that series) and it seems like once Lebron James starts guarding Derrick Rose, the Bulls offense stops.
Chicago was a patchwork team last season, but with the signing of Mike Dunleavy (career high 43% from three point range last season) and the drafting of Tony Snell, the Bulls are the biggest threat to Miami assuming Rose comes back and the entire team is healthy throughout the regular and postseasons. With three players who will deserve a lot of attention for NBA All defensive team next season in their starting lineup; along with the reintroduction of Rose’s 25 points per game, this team is going to have a lot easier time.
Brooklyn Nets (+500 Eastern Conference, +1000 NBA Title)
With Brooklyn it boils down to a few simple things. Firstly, can that aging and injury prone roster can stay healthy throughout a long regular season. I think they have the depth to do that, but the average age of their team is up there, and they have one even bigger variable.
As much as I love Jason Kidd, he is a first-year head coach in the NBA. I fear that in a playoff series where coaching is five times as important as it is in the regular season, the Nets might be at a disadvantage. On top of the amount of players in their mid thirties, it’s a lot to ask for them to stay completely healthy.
Indiana Pacers (+600 Eastern Conference, +1600 NBA Title)
The Pacers were one win away from winning the Eastern Conference last season, and they have gotten even better this offseason. However some sports betting outlets have them lower than both the Bulls and Nets, and I think that’s a little wrong. While I would still rank the Bulls slightly better than the Pacers, Indiana has a much younger team. The Nets are one or two injuries away from irrelevancy, while the Pacers are in their 20's and resilient.
However, in a playoff series against any of the above three teams, assuming everyone is healthy, I’ll take those other teams for my NBA Picks over the Pacers. They all have better coaches and they all have better all around talent.The 2013-14 NBA season is just a few short months away. Join the discussion now!