We break down the Eastern Conference landscape and look for betting value on Bovada’s NBA odds to win each division while predicting how each team will perform this season based on recent history and their offseason moves.
Offseason moves via free agency and trades will definitely shake up the Division standings in the Eastern Conference. Teams that missed the playoffs last season like the Heat and the Pacers could be back in the hunt and serious contenders could have better records than last year, so the division races in this conference won’t be as easy to handicap as in previous years.
Over the years, the Atlantic Division has been one of the weakest divisions in the NBA but this season the race for first place will be very interesting. The Raptors (-200) have won the division for two straight years but the Celtics (+200 NBA odds at Bovada) can emerge as a serious threat to their reign.
Toronto had to retool during the offseason after their disastrous first-round sweep in the playoffs against Washington. The Raptors decided to place a big emphasis on defense, adding DeMarre Carroll and Cory Joseph as they look to establish an identity on that end of the floor.
The Celtics, who made a surprise playoff appearance last season, have many nice pieces in place like Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Evan Turner and former Warrior David Lee and a head coach with a sharp basketball mind in Brad Stevens, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see them close the gap with the Raptors and fight for the division title.
The Nets, Knicks and 76ers are going through rebuilding phases and even though their future might be promising, they’re not ready to compete with the Raptors and Celtics this year.
Atlantic Division Odds
Boston Celtics (+200)
Brooklyn Nets (+2000)
New York Knicks (+1400)
Philadelphia 76ers (+6600)
Toronto Raptors (-200)
The Cleveland Cavaliers look very good on paper and many experts think that this division is Cleveland’s to lose but a healthy Chicago Bulls team with head coach Fred Hoiberg improving their offense can be dangerous.
The Cavs (-500) have more depth with the additions of Mo Williams and Richard Jefferson but it’s hard to ignore the betting value that the Bulls offer for your NBA picks at +400. With the emergence of Jimmy Butler and Pau Gasol’s strong play, Chicago won’t have to rely just on Derrick Rose.
Milwaukee and Indiana can be pleasant surprises. The Bucks (+1600) made the playoffs last year and their young, hungry team will get better with the addition of Greg Monroe. The Pacers (+2000) barely missed the playoffs last season and their offseason moves and a healthy Paul George will help them go in the right direction in the near future.
The Pistons (+6600) on the other hand have to be very patient with their current roster. Brandon Jennings can lead this team to some surprising wins and they might even reach the playoffs but we can’t expect them to win this tough division.
Central Division Odds
Chicago Bulls (+400)
Cleveland Cavaliers (-500)
Detroit Pistons (+6600)
Indiana Pacers (+2000)
Milwaukee Bucks (+1600)
The race to win the Southeast Division will be wide open. The Hawks (+140) are coming off an historic regular season in which they set the best record in their franchise at 60-22. They reached the Eastern Conference Finals but were swept by the Cavaliers and now they have to prove that last year’s success was not a fluke.
It won’t be easy for the Hawks as the Heat (+180) and Wizards (+220) have enough talent to challenge for the division crown and make a deep playoff run. Miami’s starting five of Dragic, Wade, Deng, Bosh and Whiteside is as good as any in the league and their bench has plenty of depth with Mario Chalmers, Udonis Haslem and the additions of Gerald Green, Amar’e Stoudemire and Justise Winslow.
The Wizards have a young, talented roster led by John Wall and Bradley Beal but they will miss Paul Pierce’s leadership. The Hornets will put up a fight most nights but they still don’t have enough star power to be a significant force in this division while the Magic is still on a transition period.
Southeast Division Odds
Atlanta Hawks (+140)
Charlotte Hornets (+2500)
Miami Heat (+180)
Orlando Magic (+4000)
Washington Wizards (+220)