2017-18 NBA Betting Tips: Eastern Conference Preview
By Marc Lawrence
EASTERN CONFERENCE CAPSULES
Teams are listed alphabetically with the Westgate SuperBook season win opening totals on 8/29/17 in parenthesis.
Atlanta Hawks (25.5) – Offseason losses of Dwight Howard, Paul Millsap, and Tim Hardaway Jr. ensures the Hawks’ 10-year playoff streak is history. The more relevant question is whether or not they can surpass the second-lowest win total in the league this season (their season win total was 43.5 last season). It will largely depend upon Dennis Schroder’s efforts this season. They will need last year’s 1st round pick Taurean Prince to step up in what amounts to a first-year total team rebuild. – Betting nugget: The Hawks are 2-13 ATS as favorites against foes coming off consecutive losses.
Boston Celtics (54) – They’ve won 101 games the last two regular seasons and traded for PG Kyrie Irving. They also inked All-Star F Gordon Hayward to a lucrative FA contract, reuniting him with Brad Stevens, his former coach at Butler. But the loss of 5’ 9” sparkplug PG Isaiah Thomas, a two-time All-Star the past two seasons and the leader of this team, could prove unsettling early on. – Betting nugget: The Celtics are 99-76-2 ATS away behind Stevens, including 10-1 ATS as a dog of 12 or more points, but only 1-6 ATS as a favorite of more than 8 points.
Brooklyn Nets (28.5) – The Nets went into rebuild mode once again in the offseason when PG D’Angelo Russell was added from the Lakers. Upon his arrival, Russell immediately said, “I want teams to hate us,” this season. Remember, had he been drafted in June, Russell would be coming off his junior season at Ohio State. If his inconsistencies iron out, he will be the lynchpin of this team’s future. They also added three-point artist Allen Crabbe, but lost Brook Lopez. Given the current landscape of the Eastern Conference, this team figures to battle Atlanta and Chicago for the cellar in the Eastern Conference this season. Stay tuned. Remember, the Nets season win total was 20.5 last year. – Betting nugget: This team is a long-term 77-106-3 ATS as a home dog against .666 or greater opponents, including 60-90-3 AST in non-division games.
Charlotte Hornets (42.5) – The offseason acquisition of C Dwight Howard makes the Hornets formidable. But the fact of the matter is they will go as far as team MVP Kemba Walker takes them. Walker enters of a career-season when he averaged 23.0 PPG while shooting almost 40% from beyond the arc. A strong bench figures to put them nearer the 48 games they won two seasons ago as opposed to the 36 they garnered last campaign. – Betting nugget: The Hornets are 21-9 ATS in their franchise history in division games against foes off a SU favorite loss, including 10-2 ATS as road dogs.
Chicago Bulls (21.5) – The lowest season win total in the NBA this season – and in the modern era for the Bulls, for that matter – likely finds Michael Jordan shaking in his sneakers. As a result, things figure to get real ugly in the Windy City this season. No matter how you slice it, Zach Levine and Lauri Markkanen do not spell Jimmy Butler, Rajon Rondo and Dywane Wade. Don’t second-guess the oddsmakers. Just fade the reconstructing Bulls whose season win total fell a whopping 17 games from last year’s 38.5 total. – Betting nugget: The Bulls were 2-10 ATS as favorites against Western Conference opponents last season.
Cleveland Cavaliers (53.5) – Yes, the loss of star G Kyrie Irving hurts, but the bevy of off-season acquisitions Cleveland has made, including the likes of Isaiah Thomas, Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Jae Crowder and Jeff Green, makes this possibly the deepest Cavaliers team they have ever had. Having Kyle Korver from the get-go, along with mainstays with LeBron James, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, and company, makes a 4th straight NBA finals with the Golden State Warriors an odds-on likelihood. – Betting nugget: The Cavaliers are 83-111-4 in games without rest ATS with LeBron James, including 9-25-2 ATS against foes off consecutive losses.
Detroit Pistons (38.5) – Year 4 of the Stan Van Gundy era finds the Pistons looking to improve on Detroit’s regular season win totals of 32, 44, and 37 in Van Gundy’s first three seasons, respectively. The addition of former Celtics G Avery Bradley, along with highly anticipated improvement from promising second-year F Stanley Johnson, complimenting PG Reggie Jackson and C Andre Drummond finds the Pistons in a favorable position to get possibly get closer to the 44 win total rather than the first-year 32 victory season under Gundy. Value here from last year’s 45.5 posted win total. – Betting nugget: The Pistons are 23-38-1 ATS following a double-digit win under Van Gundy, including 9-24-1 ATS as a dog.
Indiana Pacers (31.5) – It’s 2017 APG in Indiana these days, or life ‘After Paul George’. Sure bringing Victor Oladipo (former Hoosiers star) back to Indiana is neat, and Myles Turner has a world of potential, but other than Lance Stephenson you’ll need a scoreboard to identify others on the roster, especially with Glenn Robinson III out the first two months of the season with a severely sprained ankle. After being a perennial playoff team 6 of the last 7 years, the 31.5-win season total this year tells you all you need to know about where the Pacers are headed in 2017. – Betting nugget: Indiana is 49-68-1 ATS at home in double no-rest games, including 31-55-1 ATS against Eastern Conference foes, including 13-32-1 ATS when the Pacers are off a win.
Miami Heat (43.5) – Written off after going 11-30 in its first 41 games last season, Miami changed course and went 30-11 during the 2nd half of the campaign to narrowly miss the playoffs. They inked free agent Kelly Olynyk in the offseason to go along with All-Stars Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside. Watch former Kentucky Wildcat rookie Bam Adebayo, who impressed in the summer league. With SG Dion Waiters under contract, this team can make some noise in the East, especially if former 1st round pick Justice Winslow plays back to his potential. – Betting nugget: Miami is 12-32-1 ATS at home against division foes off a SU underdog win.
Milwaukee Bucks (47.5) – The Bucks moved up six spots in the Eastern Conference standings last season en route to their first winning season since 2010. The Greek freak, 22-year old Giannis Antetokounmpo, along with Khris Middleton, Thon Maker and Jabari Parker (out till All-Star Break with torn ACL) makes them playoff contenders once again this season. However, not sure an increase of 8 wins over last year’s 39.5 win total is warranted. – Betting nugget: The Bucks were 7-16 ATS at home against losing foes last year.
New York Knicks (30.5) – With the dynamic duo of Phil Jackson and Carmelo Anthony now gone, Vegas feels New York appears 8 wins lighter this season than last, and with the Knicks in rebuild mode, we’d say they appear to be right on. After a full season of ‘what’s going on with Melo’, perhaps New York can get back to playing basketball. “For us, it’s a new start,” said head coach Jeff Hornacek. “The young guys are enthusiastic about the new beginning.” Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr., and first-round pick Frank Ntilikina will lead the charge. One litmus test for the Knicks will be whether Porzingis decides to sign an extension this summer or next. But moving forward, they are now Melo lite. – Betting nugget: The Knicks are 13-38 ATS as a home dog without rest, including 3-16 ATS following a SUATS loss.
Orlando Magic (33.5) – Locked in it longest playoff drought in franchise history, the Magic’s youth project has not worked well and this year looks to be no exception. To help kick-start the young kinds they’ve brought in veterans Shelvin Mack, Arron Afflalo, and Marreese Speights. When the best you can say about a team is they aren’t as bad as the Bulls or the Hawks, you’re not saying much. Rising star Nikola Vucevic will keep them in games but the bottom line is you don’t go far in this league without star power. – Betting nugget: Orlando is 1-18 ATS in its last nineteen games as a division favorite.
Philadelphia 76ers (42.5) – Call this the ‘Ready To Crash The Party’ crew. After rotting each of the last four years at the bottom of the league standings, the 76ers are ready to make its emergence. Behind the young trio of Joel Embiid, Markelle Fultz, and Ben Simmons, along with Dario Saric and T.J. McConnell, they will feature the youngest corps of starters in the league. Toss in recently acquired J.J. Redick and Jahill Okafor and they automatically go from pretenders to playoff contenders this season. A questionable trade of Nerlens Noel to Dallas for Andrew Bogut, Justin Anderson, and top 18 protected first round pick that turned in the 39th pick in the 2017 draft and a 2018 second round pick was puzzling. Now they are screwed if C Joel Embiid will be unable to stay healthy. The question begs, though: is this year’s contingent 15 games better than last year’s group that opened the season at 27.5 wins last year. – Betting nugget: Philadelphia is 8-0 ATS as a home dog against non-conference opponents.
Toronto Raptors (48.5) – We’ll say this, the Raptors’ starting 5 – Kyle Lowry, Demar Rozan, C.J. Miles, Serge Ibaka, and Jonas Valanciunas – is right up there with the best in the Eastern Conference. On the flip side, their bench might be among the worst. The Raptors spent a lot of money to extend contracts to Lowry and Ibaka and as a result, the team didn’t have enough reserves in the till to bring in another high-profile player. As a result, the starting five will need to stay healthy while playing extended minutes. That’s not a desirous combination. – Betting nugget: The Raptors are 11-3-1 ATS in its last fifteen games as dogs of 4 or more points in non-conference games.
Washington Wizards (47.5) – One thing is for certain, this year’s Wizards squad will not be sneaking up anyone this season (Washington’s season win total was 42.5 last year). Not after capturing the Southeast Division last season while finishing in 4th place in the Eastern Conference with 49 victories. They brought in and Jodie Meeks from Orlando as a backup shooting guard and Tim Frazier from New Orleans to spot John Wall as the point guard, providing valuable experience off the bench. They will be in a dogfight with Charlotte and Miami for division honors this season. – Betting nugget: The Wizards are 2-10 ATS as double-digit chalk when playing without rest.