We all know that the Cleveland Cavaliers are the overwhelming favorites for the Eastern Conference championship this season. With Kevin Love clicking on all cylinders, a healthy Kyrie Irving and Lebron James continuing to be the best player in the world, it’s hard to go against this team. They are just so much better than everyone else. That being said, there is still a playoff picture and it involves seven other teams. A lot can happen between now and then so it’s a good idea to always keep an eye on the entire conference.
|Top NBA Sportsbooks|
|Team||Wins||Losses||GB||PPG||OPPG||DIFF||5Dimes EC Odds|
|New York Knicks||14||11||4.5||105||107.3||-2.3||+3300|
The Toronto Raptors have looked good to start this season. DeMar DeRozan has taken a step forward that many didn’t think he could take and he is currently averaging 28 points per game. They have looked better than they did last season with a healthier DeMarre Carroll, a much improved Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas making steps forward as well. This team’s success ultimately comes down to Kyle Lowry and DeRozan though and as good as they have been, it’s hard to see them competing with the Cavs as things stand right now. That said, at +900 they are probably the best non-Cavs bet you can make.
While the Knicks have been a nice story early this season, it’s hard to see that continuing with a -2.3 point differential. Kristaps Porzingis has really elevated this team and Carmelo Anthony is still a true superstar, but the Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah additions seem disastrous and I could see this team slipping out of the playoff picture before all is said and done.
On the other side of the coin, the Bulls have a great point differential but feel like they are due for a fall. Jimmy Butler has put up great numbers thus far and should be All-NBA this season. Dwyane Wade looked good early, but health is always a question with him. Rajon Rondo has been another disaster signing and it’s hard to see how this team will compete. I expect them out of the top four before the playoffs begin.
Charlotte has played very well early and Kemba Walker has looked great, but this is about what you should expect from the Hornets. Top six seed that could be a four seed, ultimately a second round exit.
Outside of Cleveland and Toronto, the best betting odds to win the East belong to the Boston Celtics. Isaiah Thomas is a really exciting player, the Al Horford addition has been huge, the defense led by Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart can be one of the most stifling in the league and of course everyone loves coach Brad Stevens. The problem with them has been injuries as Horford, Thomas and Crowder have all missed time early. Everyone expects this team to be a top-four seed, but they need to start playing like one. A game over .500 at the quarter mark of the season is not a great look, even with the injuries. That said, Celtics fans are all over this +1200.
One team that seems like a sleeping giant is the Detroit Pistons. They have the third best point differential in the East at +3.3 and they spent a large chunk of the early season without Reggie Jackson. Now that he is back and getting near full strength this team is really scary. Tobias Harris, Andre Drummond and Jackson are a nice young trio and Stan Van Gundy is a hell of a coach. They have the best defensive rating in the Eastern Conference and that will carry over into the playoffs.
Either the Pacers or Hawks will miss the playoffs. Their differentials have been terrible thus far and they have looked like a mess at times. I’d give the Pacers a slight edge because of Paul George, but the Hawks have the better defensive reputation and the better coach. It doesn’t really matter as it won’t be pretty no matter what.
We’ll finish up with the Milwaukee Bucks who I see as making the playoffs. They are an exciting young team that should only get better as the season goes on. Giannis Antetokounmpo is a burgeoning superstar, Jabari Parker looks like a future one and the team is just fun. Matthew Dellavedova is a great fit and this team should get Khris Middleton back in time for the playoffs. They aren’t likely to go deep, but they should make for one of the most exciting first round series.
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