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Oct 17, 2017

NBA regular season: Eastern Conference betting preview

NBA regular season: Eastern Conference betting preview

Credit: Getty Images

The wait is finally over. The 2017/18 NBA season is upon us. This has been one of the most active offseasons in recent memory, but what does it mean for outright regular season betting? Read on for some expert insight into the Eastern Conference winner odds.

There have been some interesting moves in the Eastern Conference that could have a major impact on certain teams’ chances of making it to the playoffs. In a rare move for conference rivals, the Cavs and Celtics made a big player exchange, while a few teams committed to rebuilding (the Bulls, Hawks and Knicks).

We’ve analysed the major moves from the offseason to see if anyone is ready to challenge the Cavs or if bettors are better off looking at regular season win totals to find some value in this year’s outright betting in the NBA. 

Atlanta Hawks

In: Miles Plumlee, Marco Belinelli, Dewayne Dedmon 

Out: Dwight Howard, Paul Millsap, Tim Hardaway Jr., Thabo Sefolosha 

Long gone are the faint hopes of a championship from a few years ago. Atlanta will miss the likes of Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard this year, while little strength has been added in return.

Although there is a strong organisational pride it is fair to expect the Hawks to miss the playoffs for a second straight year - as shown by their odds of 128.840* to be crowned the Eastern Conference winner and a modest total of 25.5 regular season wins. 

Boston Celtics

In: Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Marcus Morris, 3rd pick Jayson Tatum, Arron Baynes.

Out: Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Kelly Olynik.

The Celtics remain one of the strongest teams on paper in the Eastern Conference. They have made an unexpected trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers, sending Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder in exchange for Kyrie Irving.

Boston are currently second favourites to win the conference but barring an injury issue for the Cavs, they will struggle to make it to The Finals.

Boston also made a big splash signing free agent Gordon Hayward from the Jazz, as well as trading two-way player Avery Bradley for Marcus Morris - this hectic offseason means only four players are returning from last year.

Coach Steven can certainly get the best out of his players but bettors should be wary that high player churn means chemistry could be an issue in the early stages of the season.

Boston’s starting five packs a punch but the bench has become a lot weaker. The Celtics will likely capture one of the top three seeds (they are currently second favourites to win the conference at 3.310*) but barring an injury issue for the Cavs, they will struggle to make it to The Finals.

Brooklyn Nets

In: D'Angelo Russell, Allen Crabbe, DeMarre Carroll, Timofey Mozgov

Out: Brook Lopez, Randy Foye.

Brooklyn are still in rebuilding mode and continue to shuffle the pieces around. The main offseason event was trading Brook Lopez for D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov but there is still no real star power to help drag them through games.

A relatively positive trade sees the Nets season wins total posted at 27.5, but after finishing bottom of the conference last year, they are still the biggest outsider when it comes to the Eastern Conference winner odds (298.800*).

Charlotte Hornets

In: Dwight Howard, Michael Carter Williams

Out: Marco Belinelli, Miles Plumlee

Charlotte was a disappointment last season in many ways. With the exception of picking up Dwight Howard from the Hawks, virtually the entire roster has stayed put in the offseason.

How much Howard has left in his tank is up for debate and the unfortunate injury to Nick Batum means the Hornets will be more reliant on Kemba Walker in terms of their offence.

Odds of 81.830* to win the Eastern Conference shows there’s a lot of work to do for the Hornets but over 42.5 regular season wins at 1.980* might generate some interest amongst NBA bettors.

Chicago Bulls

In: Zack Lavine, Kriss Dunn

Out: Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler, Rajon Rondo, Michael Carter-Williams

Chicago made the playoffs last season but it will be a while before we can say that again. The Bulls have made some drastic moves with the obvious aim of rebuilding their team. They have given up on stud player Jimmy Butler as well as Dwayne Wade and Rajon Rondo.

The Bulls may have picked up a couple of young prospects in Kriss Dunn and Zach Lavine but this is now a team built with the future in mind. The lowest regular season wins total of any team in the Eastern Conference shows how little is expected of the team coached by Fred Hoiberg.

Cleveland Cavaliers

In: Isiah Thomas, Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Jae Crowder, Jose Calderon, Jeff Green.

Out: Kyrie Irving, Deron Williams, Derrick Williams.

The offseason has been a tumultuous one for the Cavs. First came the firing of their General Manager David Griffin, followed by the trade request from Kyrie Irving. Cleveland obliged Irving in a spectacular deal with the Celtics, landing Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder.

Dwyane Wade has also rejoined LeBron after buying out of his Bulls contract. The main concern for the Cavs this season is possible health issues. The lingering hip injury of Isiah Thomas will be a worry but considering Cleveland’s season is essentially about being fully ready for the playoffs they will be comfortable letting Thomas have as much time as he needs to fully recover.

Eastern Conference winner odds of 1.591* certainly seem short but there isn’t much in the way of legitimate challengers. Whether LeBron can drag his side to another NBA Championship (5.430*) remains to be seen.

Detroit Pistons

In: Avery Bradley, Anthony Tolliver

Out: Aron Baynes, Marcus Morris, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Everybody expected an improvement from the Pistons last season, but they actually took a step back. They lost seven more games than the season before and missed the playoffs.

Despite obvious chemistry issues between Coach Van Gundy, Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson and rumours of possible trades involving these players, nothing ever materialised. 

Detroit added solid two-way player Avery Bradley as well as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Marcus Morris in the offseason. Their hopes of an Eastern Conference title are priced at slim to none (94.230*). However, if Reggie Jackson remains healthy this season, the over 38.5 regular season wins at 1.847* could offer potential value. 

Indiana Pacers

In: Bojan Bogdanovic, Darren Collison, Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis, Corey Joseph.

Out: Paul George, Monta Ellis, CJ Miles, Jeff Teague

Indiana was a few pieces away from being a true Eastern Conference contender last year but now they find themselves in a rebuilding period once again.

Indiana’s talisman Paul George let it be known early this summer that he wanted out and the Pacers had no choice but to trade him. Curiously, they settled on a trade with Oklahoma where they received only Oladipo and Sabonis. Although they freed up quite a bit of money with the loss of George’s salary, the Pacers took a real hit in terms of the quality of their starting five.

Miami Heat

In: Kelly Olynyk, 14th pick Bam Adebayo

Out: Chris Bosh, Willie Reed, Josh McRoberts

The Heat were one of the best teams in the second half of last season and only just missed out on a playoff spot - had they not been ravaged by injuries early in the season they likely would have been a top four Easter Conference seed. 

This year’s roster is essentially the same as last season. Goran Dragic may have increased confidence coming into the season after winning MVP of Eurobasket 2017, guiding Slovenia to the title in the process, but Miami still have some ground to make up on their rivals. 

Outright Eastern Conference winner odds of 37.180* suggest the Heat aren’t seen as a genuine contender to the title but if they get a good start to the season, over 43.5 regular season wins (1.917*) is certainly doable. 

Milwaukee Bucks

In: Gerald Green, Brandon Rush.

Out: Michael Beasley

Milwaukee finished the 2016/17 season strongly but lost to the Raptors in the first round of the playoffs - they are 16.740* to win the Eastern Conference title this time around and pose a real threat to both Cleveland and Boston.

If the Bucks can manage to stay healthy they have a decent chance of reaching the second round in what is a much weaker Eastern Conference this time around.

Jabari Parker, who showed great potential after his second overall pick in the 2014 draft, was betrayed by injury once again last season as he suffered a second ACL tear in his brief career. Parker won’t be seen on the court until February and that will be a real dent to any postseason aspirations. 

The young and talented core from last year is still intact and will bring more experience with them in 2017/18. If they can manage to stay healthy they have a decent chance of reaching the second round in what is a much weaker Eastern Conference this time around.

New York Knicks

In: Enes Kanter, Tim Hardaway, Michael Beasley, Doug McDermott 

Out: Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose, Justin Holiday.

The doomed experiment in New York is finally over. Phil Jackson is out as GM and Carmelo Anthony has been shipped to Oklahoma for a package that includes Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott. Gone are the days of the triangle offence. The focus now is on youth and athleticism.

Odds of 142.500* show the Knicks will have to play a waiting game when it comes to challenging for the Eastern Conference title. Kristaps Porzingis will most likely get the leading role his potential deserves this season but New York are still a way off from featuring in the playoffs.

Orlando Magic

In: Arron Afflalo, Jonathon Simmons, Marreese Speights

Out: Jeff Green, Jodie Meeks

Not much has changed for the young Magic roster. Some veteran leadership and defensive prowess was added in the likes of Arron Afflalo and Jonathon Simmons. The Magic have a new General Manager in John Hammond, who did wonders with the Bucks and Coach Vogel will be hoping for some decent improvements from his troops in his second year.

However, Orlando lacks a major offensive threat (no individual player has average 20 points per game in an NBA season for the franchise) and their defence far from makes up for such struggles. A current price of 218.240* to win the Eastern Conference highlights how far behind the Magic are from their rivals - under 33.5 regular season wins at 1.819* is perhaps the safest bet as far as Orlando is concerned.

Philadelphia 76ers

In: J.J Reddick, Amir Johnson, 1st pick Markelle Fultz 

Out: Sergio Rodriguez, Gerald Henderson

Can we trust the process this year? We now know that Embiid is a force to deal with on both ends of the court. The question is, can he stay healthy enough to consistently help his team? (He only played 31 games last year).

Expectations are high with the number one draft pick from 2016 Ben Simmons healthy and ready to go - he is currently the favourite (3.240*) to win Rookie of the Year and the lack of shooting power has been addressed with the signing of J.J. Reddick.

Rookie sensation Markelle Fultz has also been added to the mix of this young and talented group. The 76ers could be one to keep an eye on and Eastern Conference winner odds of 38.470* will likely generate some interest amongst NBA bettors - as will the over 39.5 regular season wins at 2.200*.

Toronto Raptors

In: C.J Miles

Out: DeMarre Carroll, Patrick Patterson, Cory Joseph, P.J. Tucker 

GM Ujiri built the 2016/17 Raptors team to compete better with the Cavs but they still weren’t in their league, getting swept out in the second round. One positive for the Raptors is the central core of their team has returned (Lowry and Ibaka got new contracts).

Unfortunately for Toronto fans, they have lost considerable depth at the wing as well as their best bench player in Cory Joseph and appear to have taken a backwards step. Even 32.260* to win the Easter Conference seems a generous price and bettors will most likely be drawn to under 48.5 regular season wins at 1.751*.

Washington Wizards

In: Tim Frazier, Jodie Meeks.

Out: Bojan Bogdanovic, Trey Burke, Brandon Jennings

The Wizards made one more move to lock up their core for the foreseeable future when they matched the Nets’ max offer sheet for Otto Porter. There are not many additions to the roster but a healthy Ian Mahinmi will be a much needed defensive presence in the middle after missing most of last season.

If John Wall continues to impress and Bradley Beal does his job of supporting him with his shooting the Wizards will be seen as real contenders in the Eastern Conference (22.910*). Bettors will know defence is the issue, they will most likely make it to the postseason but if the defence performs as it did last year, they won’t stand a chance.

Odds subject to change

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