While the other 14 teams in the NBA’s Western Conference are all chasing Golden State for a conference title, the race for the top spot in the Eastern Conference remains up for grabs among a handful of legitimate contenders.
Heading into the first weekend of games in 2019, the recently updated betting odds to win the East at Intertops online sportsbook is rather crowded at the top of the list. The Toronto Raptors are still the favorites to win at +175, but the Boston Celtics are a very close second at +200 betting odds. The Philadelphia 76ers are also in the mix as +350 third-favorites followed by the Milwaukee Bucks at +500. The Indiana Pacers round out the top five teams on the list, but at much longer +2200 betting odds.
Before the regular season got underway, Boston was the clear favorite to win this conference. A slower than expected start cast some doubt on the Celtics’ chances to top the list, but recent form paints a much more positive picture for their chances to win the East. At 22-15 through its first 37 games, Boston still has the overall talent and experience to make it to the NBA Finals out of this conference. The wins and losses this time of the year really do not mean all that much. The Celtics’ true value in this race is the fact that they have been battle tested in the postseason which is far more important.
The one big knock against Toronto’s chances to win the East this season has been its poor play in the postseason. The Raptors are 28-11 through 39 games this season and poised for a much deeper run this postseason with Kawhi Leonard in the lineup. He makes Toronto a totally different team, so you can heavily discount its past shortcomings come playoff time.
The 76ers are an interesting choice as third-favorites in the mix at 25-14 through 39 games of an 82-game schedule. The addition of Jimmy Butler gives Philadelphia its own version of the big three with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Embiid is slowly starting to establish himself as the premier player in this conference with his early play this season.
The overall youth of this team along with a lack of experience in the postseason are two big concerns when it comes to the betting value in its NBA’s futures odds to take a big step to the top. Another concern is the Sixers’ inability to consistently win on the road. They would most likely have to get past Boston to go all the way to the NBA Finals after losing four of five games to the Celtics in last year’s playoffs.
The top-valued team in the East would have to be Milwaukee. At 26-10 through 36 games, the Bucks have already proven they are one of the top teams in the East with their consistent play. Behind their big man Giannis Antekounmpo, they are ranked first in the NBA in scoring and first in rebounds. Add in a defensive effort that ranks in the top third of the league in points allowed and Milwaukee could be the most balanced team in the East.
The Bucks are another team that plays its best ball on its home court and, much like Philly, it lacks a depth of experience in the postseason. However, if Milwaukee continues to play like it has in the first two months of the season, those futures odds to win the East are going to come down. Now would be the best time to jump on the Bucks bandwagon if you are looking for the best value in the futures odds to win the East.