NBA Betting: Eastern Conference Teams You Shouldn't Be Counting Out Just Yet

Jason Lake

Thursday, February 26, 2015 2:23 PM GMT

The trade deadline is usually when the NBA’s playoff pretenders start falling off the radar. But there are three teams in the East who just might beat the basketball odds and make the postseason.

Jason’s record as of Feb. 24: 35-34-4 ATS, 2-5 Totals

A couple of weeks ago, we wrote about the three teams who were chasing down that coveted No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. This was before the trade deadline; the Oklahoma City Thunder made some considerable upgrades, and voilà, they’re already in eighth place, 2.5 games ahead of the pack as we go to press. Done and done.

The playoff picture in the Eastern Conference is a lot cloudier. In this case, both the No. 7 and the No. 8 seeds are up for grabs, and there are six teams in the fray with just 2.5 games separating them in the Eastern standings. The NBA odds on Bovada’s championship futures market are pretty slim for all six teams involved – especially for the Boston Celtics, who are 1000-1 long shots to win the title. We’re not saying the Celtics will be hanging up another banner at the Garden, but these NBA odds point to the C’s being undervalued in general. Let’s take a moment to look at Boston and two other Eastern teams who shouldn’t be written off just yet.

 

Setting the Table
To put things in perspective, here’s how the playoff race looks in the East as we go to press.

Team and Record

Games Behind

Point Differential

7. Miami Heat (24-31 SU, 24-28-3 ATS)

–3.3

8. Brooklyn Nets (23-31 SU, 26-28 ATS)

0.5

–3.2

9. Charlotte Hornets (22-32 SU, 25-27-2 ATS)

1.5

–2.8

10. Detroit Pistons (23-34 SU, 27-30 ATS)

2

–1.1

11. Indiana Pacers (23-34 SU, 30-24-3 ATS)

2

–1.2

12. Boston Celtics (21-33 SU, 30-24 ATS)

2.5

–1.6

Notice how the bottom three teams on this list are the ones with the best point differentials. Not only that, the Celtics and the Indiana Pacers are profitable NBA picks thus far. This is already a very good sign for those teams and their playoff chances. The Heat already have the worst point differential of the bunch, and they’re in danger of dropping out after Chris Bosh (19.9 PER) developed blood clots in his lungs. The Nets, meanwhile, are a confusion of injured, past-their-prime veterans with no obvious direction. Who knows where Brooklyn will end up.

Even before Bosh was taken out of the equation, the East was soft enough for the Celtics to put the brakes on their tanking program and acquire Isaiah Thomas (19.8 PER) at the trade deadline. Sadly, Jared Sullinger (18.3 PER) has also been lost for the season with a stress fracture in his left foot. But Kelly Olynyk (15.9 PER) should be back soon from his sprained right ankle, and with all those bench players Boston has picked up in various trades, there’s enough talent at the right places to put the C’s firmly in the playoff mix.

 

Leggy Mountbatten
Then you have the Pacers, who have gotten better as the season has worn on and their injured players have come back into the fold. Indiana is 8-5 SU and 9-4 ATS since George Hill (20.2 PER) made his return, and while Hill’s current level of play may not be sustainable, Paul George (20.1 PER last year) hopes to be in action sometime in mid-March after that gruesome leg injury he sustained during the summer.

We happen to like the Pistons the most to make the playoffs out of these three teams. They’re 18-11 SU and 19-10 ATS since Josh Smith (14.2 PER) was given his walking papers. Losing Brandon Jennings (19.7 PER) for the season didn’t help, but Detroit liberated Reggie Jackson (15.9 PER) from the Thunder at the trade deadline, and Jackson has already had two very good games running the Pistons offense. The basketball odds say they’re 66-1 to win the East and 150-1 to win the championship. Worth a shot? We think so.