The NBA’s Eastern Conference teams went through a lot of turnover with their rosters this season. Of the 13 Eastern Conference All-Stars from last season, two have moved teams within the conference, two left for Western Conference teams, Dwyane Wade retired and Victor Oladipo won’t be healthy to start the season for the Indiana Pacers.
Overall, it looks like the conference has gotten weaker, especially at the top. The Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers are the best teams in the conference but their rosters are not without weaknesses.
Let’s examine the future odds for the Eastern Conference championship from the internet bookies and find your three best value suggested wagers. You can combine the bets to play it a bit safer.
Best Eastern Conference Championship Odds
Philadelphia 76ers at +260 with 5Dimes
I see Philadelphia and the Milwaukee Bucks as neck-and-neck heading into this season. They are the two best teams in the Eastern Conference and naturally should be considered the two teams mostly likely to make the Finals.
However, there are two reasons I like betting on the Sixers instead of the Bucks. First, Philadelphia has slightly longer odds than Milwaukee with most of the main United States’ sportsbooks. Second, the Sixers may have a bit more potential because their roster has a little bit more talent, even though there are some questions about how that talent fits together.
Philly not only has rising young stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, but they have two fringe All-Star veterans in Tobias Harris and Al Horford and another very solid starter in Josh Richardson. That’s (literally) a huge lineup with huge potential if head coach Brett Brown can find ways to get around potential spacing and quickness issues on the perimeter.
Toronto Raptors at +2150 with 5Dimes
The Toronto Raptors are the defending NBA champions. It still feels weird to say it. Led by superstar Kawhi Leonard, the Raptors exorcised some demons in reaching their first championship in franchise history in June.
Now, though, Leonard is gone, and so is key role player Danny Green. Toronto is now going to rely on some of Leonard’s key supporting players as it attempts to stay near the top of the Eastern Conference in 2019-20.
Can they do it? I think they will be better than many people assume, especially once the playoffs roll around. Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam and Marc Gasol will lead the offense, and Toronto has three young, big defensive-minded wings on the roster in O.G. Anunoby, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Johnson. All three guys will need to show more offensive utility to garner big minutes, but they will do their part to keep Toronto near the top of the defensive rankings.
When you consider the amount of talent and playoff experience on the roster, Toronto should at least be a very tough playoff out for any opponent. If Siakam takes another big leap and X-factors Anunoby, Hollis-Jefferson and Johnson all move closer to their potential, this is a contender for the Eastern Conference crown.
Detroit Pistons at +10000 with MyBookie
Detroit is definitely a long shot to make the NBA Finals. The Pistons went 41-41 last season and didn’t get significantly better this summer.
They could surprise some people this season, though. Despite the lack of a huge signing, Detroit still had a solid offseason, bringing in helpful veterans Derrick Rose, Markieff Morris and Tony Snell. Combine that with a respectable core of Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson and Luke Kennard, and you have a decent squad.
If the 76ers and Bucks happen to falter this season, there is an opportunity for the Pistons and a bunch of other respectable squads to make an unexpected run. The depth of upper-tier Eastern Conference teams has dwindled from about five last year to just two this year.
Unlike some of the other teams in the middle tier of the Eastern Conference, though, Detroit has a veteran-heavy roster with a lot of money dedicated to those veterans. That means the Pistons may be more inclined to go all-in for a deep playoff run than other squads, perhaps making a midseason trade to bolster the roster.
The very long odds here from MyBookie on Detroit are very favorable. Most sportsbooks have the Pistons’ over/under for wins at ninth in the Eastern Conference, but these conference championship odds rank them 13th in the Eastern Conference, ahead of only the Charlotte Hornets and Cleveland Cavaliers (both +15000). That is a big difference and one that you should maybe take advantage of.