NBA Futures Predictions
LeBron James has guided his team to the NBA Finals in each of the last five years, each time winning the Eastern Conference Finals. The East is just as top-heavy again this season, and the Cleveland Cavaliers are again the team to beat, as is reflected in the odds comparison below.
Odds courtesy of Bovada.lv.
There are some contenders to break free of the pack and compete with the Cavaliers as the Atlanta Hawks did a year ago.
Given the price available on the Cavaliers, bettors able to mine through the odds in the East can find some value among the middle of the pack teams.
Here’s a look at five teams you should keep your handicapping eye on from the Eastern Conference.
Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA Odds -400)
The Cavaliers endured some injury woes a year ago and still finished with the second-best record in the woeful Eastern Conference.
The roster remains largely unchanged after an offseason that was more about locking up current assets long term than it was about bringing in new faces.
A year of meshing together figures to leave the team in better position to get off to a hot start in 2015-16.
If the big three can stay on the court for the bulk of the season, the Cavaliers will be in position to run away with the East behind another elite season from LeBron James.
Miami Heat (NBA Odds +1300)
The Heat have as good a starting five as any team in the East.
The key will be getting those guys to gel together quickly, as they haven’t really played a lot of basketball together, with Hassan Whiteside emerging last season, Goran Dragic coming over in a mid-season trade, and Dwyane Wade missing heaps of playing time.
Chris Bosh also missed a big chunk of time due to a medical condition, keeping him from building a rapport with Dragic.
If the Heat are able to keep their starters on the court, and can get 65 or more games out of Wade, they’ll be in good shape to compete for the top spot in the East.
Indiana Pacers (NBA Odds +2300)
The Pacers underwent a major facelift this offseason, getting rid of their bigs and opting for a smaller, faster roster, which is more in line with the way the game is being played.
If the coaching staff can figure out how to use Monta Ellis effectively early, and ease Paul George back into the lineup, all while maintaining their identity at the defensive end, they’ll be in good shape.
Toronto Raptors (NBA Odds +2300)
The Raptors had a good regular season a year ago, but everything fell apart in the postseason, where the team completely embarrassed itself.
Now they’ve reloaded, making a big offseason signing to bring in DeMarre Carroll to completely change the team’s identity on defense.
Still, the team’s going to go as far as Kyle Lowry can take it. He was thoroughly outplayed by John Wall in the playoffs, and has since reportedly bettered his physical profile.
The Raptors won’t face much of a challenge in winning the Atlantic. If the team takes the strides on defense many expect it will, the Raptors will be a team to fear come playoff time.
Milwaukee Bucks (NBA Odds +3000)
The Bucks have one of the game’s next future stars in Giannis Antetokounmpo. At some point he’s going to break out and that’s going to be a good year to have backed the Bucks.
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The team plays great defense but had trouble scoring at times last season. They added Greg Monroe to help in that regard, and if Antetokounmpo can take a step forward in that regard this season, they’ll be in very good shape.
Full 2015-16 Eastern Conference Championship Gambling Odds
- Cleveland Cavaliers -400
- Chicago Bulls +600
- Atlanta Hawks +900
- Miami Heat +1300
- Indiana Pacers +2300
- Toronto Raptors +2300
- Washington Wizards +2300
- Milwaukee Bucks +3000
- Boston Celtics +4000
- New York Knicks +8000
- Detroit Pistons +8000
- Charlotte Hornets +12000
- Orlando Magic +12000
- Philadelphia 76ers +20000
- Brooklyn Nets +20000
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