The Atlantic Division has developed a reputation for being one of the weakest divisions in the NBA in the last several years. However, that seems to be changing: the Boston Celtics have grown into a perennial powerhouse and the Philadelphia 76ers’ investment in high draft picks is finally resulting in a stronger roster.
Those two teams and the Toronto Raptors are the clear top three teams in the division for 2017-18. But how do the big offshore sports betting companies and their odds see these teams?
Let’s preview all five Atlantic Division squads heading into 2017-18 while checking on MyBookie.ag’s odds for each team to win the division. We’ll also predict final records for every team, which will be followed by last season’s record.
Finally, we’ll decide which team has the most favorable betting odds and then pick that squad as the smart bet.
Boston Celtics (-700 at MyBookie)
The Celtics head into the 2017-18 with a roster retooled around two stars, Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. Hayward was the team’s big prize in free agency, while Irving came in via the trade that sent Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and Ante Zizic to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Boston has a very dangerous and versatile Big Three in Irving, Hayward and center Al Horford. There are other solid role players, like Marcus Morris, Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier and Aron Baynes. The inexperience of young forwards Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Guerschon Yabusele and Semi Ojeyele will be an X-factor for the season. Boston will need at least two of those guys to step up and be dependable rotation players.
The Celtics have a very high ceiling this year. They have a whole bunch of scoring and playmaking in their Big Three, which could be lethal if the trio finds chemistry. The rest of the roster will have to pick up the slack left by role players like Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Kelly Olynyk and Amir Johnson, which won’t be an easy task.
Things could go sour in Boston if the perimeter defense falters in the absence of Bradley and Crowder. Rebounding is also a huge concern, still — there may not be enough beef on the inside to contend with some of the league’s bigger frontcourts.
- Projected record: 54-28 (53-29 in 2016-17)
Toronto Raptors (+500 at MyBookie)
The Raptors’ squad hasn’t changed much in the past several seasons. They’ve been anywhere between the second and fourth seed in the Eastern Conference for the past four campaigns, led every year by the dynamic offensive backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan.
Unfortunately, that duo’s production has often petered out in the postseason, but that’s irrelevant to this preview. We are just discussing what will happen in the regular season here.
Toronto switched out some role players during the offseason, but four of its top five minutes per game guys from last season are back, and none of them are old players who are on the decline. The Raptors should be a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference for the fifth straight year.
- Projected record: 50-32 (51-31 in 2016-17)
Philadelphia 76ers (+700 at MyBookie)
The 76ers might be the most exciting young team in the NBA. Last year center Joel Embiid proved he could be an absolute force on both ends of the floor in an injury-shortened campaign. This year, Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz, the No. 1 picks from the last two years, join him as rookies. Both players are offensive wizards, Simmons more with his playmaking and Fultz more with his scoring.
This young core also has some steady veteran leadership in J.J. Redick, Robert Covington and Amir Johnson, along with a few more promising youngsters.
Philly is quite unlikely to take the division crown in 2017-18 because of the lack of experience for several of its key players, as well as injury concerns. Embiid and Simmons are both very big guys with a history of significant lower-body injuries, which unfortunately means the chances of them missing time this season are high.
- Projected record: 40-42 (28-54 in 2016-17)
New York Knicks (+2800 at MyBookie)
The Knicks have a skilled, 7’3” up-and-coming big man in Kristaps Porzingis, but he’s simply a ray of hope in a bleak situation. Veteran Carmelo Anthony has a strained relationship with the organization and might be traded soon. New York just gave $72 million over four years to Tim Hardaway Jr. in free agency, which is far more than he is worth.
New York’s weakest position is point guard, where the team will have to choose between 19-year-old rookie Frank Ntilikina, a past-his-prime Ramon Sessions and two guys who definitely aren’t NBA starters in Ron Baker and Chasson Randle. The Knicks should have the worst starting point guard in the league no matter who starts.
New York is definitely in a rebuilding phase, which means the team will give its young players a lot of playing time. Likely, that will mean very few wins.
- Projected record: 28-54 (31-51 in 2016-17)
Brooklyn Nets (+12000 at MyBookie)
It’ll be a long and frustrating road back to relevance for the Nets. After being stripped of several consecutive years of their first-round picks in a 2013 trade with the Celtics, Brooklyn is being forced to rebuild without high-profile rookies. Their situation also makes them unattractive to free agents.
General manager Sean Marks has done a solid job making lemonade out of this situation, though. Brooklyn acquired young point guard prospect D’Angelo Russell in the offseason, and there are several respectable young role players around him.
That said, the Nets don’t have an above-average starter at any of the five positions. Even without the incentive to tank, they’ll have trouble winning many games.
- Projected record: 25-57
Our Preview’s Atlantic Division Betting Predictions & Picks Verdict
It’s pretty clear what our betting pick and prediction is: the Raptors (+500 at MyBookie) definitely have the best odds in the division and are the bet USAbetting recommends. The implied probability of the odds provided by that sportsbook has the Celtics as five times more likely to win the Atlantic Division than the Raptors.
Considering the fact that Toronto had won the division three times in a row before last year and still has the same core, the Raptors have a decent chance at reclaiming the crown. Boston has the better roster after its huge offseason, but with so many new players, there’s the possibility that things go wrong with the chemistry. It’s not like the Celtics don’t have weaknesses, either.
These odds give the 76ers too much respect, given how young and unproven the Sixers are. The Knicks and Nets don’t have nearly enough talent to win the division. The Raptors are the easy choice here.