We’re a little under 1/4th of the way through the NBA season and already things are starting to look pretty clear in the Eastern Conference. The Cleveland Cavaliers as expected are just a step above the rest of the East right now and that is unlikely to change. 5Dimes has updated their Eastern Conference futures odds for 2016 and the Cavs are an overwhelming -280 favorite. Playing without Kyrie Irving has really helped them so far this season as Kevin Love and Lebron James have gelled in a way that they never did last season. Getting Kyrie back will only make this team more dangerous when we get towards playoff time and it’s hard to imagine them not running right through the East when we get there.
The next favorite is the Chicago Bulls with a steep drop all the way to +950. They haven’t really done anything to show that they deserve to be a bigger favorite than that thus far this season. Fred Hoiberg has not brought the improvements that they were expecting and both the offense and defense are playing off of last year’s pace. The teaming of Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose just doesn’t seem to work and we’re not sure if this team will ever get over the hump to become a true contender. Still, this team has done nothing to prove that they could handle Cleveland in a seven game series and I probably wouldn’t even rank them this high.
The big surprise of the young season is the Indiana Pacers who currently sit at +1600. This one is all about two things: Paul George and the outstanding coaching of Frank Vogel. George is a true superstar in this league and along with CJ Miles they have created just a nuclear option on offense. They don’t quite have the talent level of some of these other teams, but if you put Paul George on Lebron James for the entire game in the playoff series good things can happen.
The remaining “contenders” are the Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks at +1600 and +1700 respectively. This is an interesting one because there is a very good chance that whoever ends up winning the Southeast division could be the #1 or #2 seed. This would mean that they would be a near lock to meet the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals. That they would be a bigger underdog than the Pacers, who play in the same division as the Cavaliers and thus won’t get a top seed, is interesting.
The rest of the Eastern Conference playoff teams don’t really appear to have a chance according to oddsmakers. This is the Cavaliers time to return to the Finals and a rematch with the Warriors seems like a lock.
|New York Knicks||+10000|