- With the Eastern Conference's three best teams all packed into the Atlantic Division, which squads are the best bets to top their Vegas win totals this season?
With LeBron James's move to Los Angeles further tilting the NBA's power balance to the Western Conference, most of the attention directed toward the East this season will be on the Atlantic Division. Oddsmakers have assigned Boston, Toronto and Philly the three highest preseason win totals in the conference, with few considering any other teams a legitimate contender for the Eastern Conference crown. With all five of its teams facing interesting questions heading into the year, how should you bet win totals in the Atlantic Division?
2017-18 Record: 55-27
2018 Win Total: 58.0 (from William Hill)
Brad Stevens's Celtics teams have topped their preseason win totals every season but 2013-14, his first at the helm. His coaching job was especially impressive last year, as Boston topped its O/U of 53.5 without Gordon Hayward, and came one game short of reaching the NBA Finals with Kyrie Irving out of the lineup, as well. Those health issues probably improved the Celtics' long-term prospects by giving valuable experience to budding stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, and overqualified role players like Terry Rozier. If Stevens is able to extend his track record of overachievement with a roster this talented, the Celtics will have a shot at winning the whole thing.
Bet: Over 58.0
2017-18 Record: 59-23
2018 Win Total: 54.5
If you feel good about all of Toronto's pieces meshing together, go ahead and bet the over—there's enough talent above the border for 60 wins. Of course, a turbulent offseason ensured that things won't be so simple. Ex-franchise player DeMar DeRozan was flipped to San Antonio for Kawhi Leonard, a significant upgrade in theory but a move that comes with plenty of questions about Leonard's health and motivation. Promoted assistant Nick Nurse brings creativity to the head coaching role, but has no experience being the man in charge. Kyle Lowry has long been underappreciated as a star on one of the East's best teams, but as an undersized guard in his age-32 season, one wonders how much longer he can keep it up.
Bet: Under 54.5
2017-18 Record: 52-30
2018 Win Total: 54.0
The ongoing process in Philadelphia jumped a year ahead of schedule during the 2017-18 campaign, as a still-green Sixers squad rode a 17-game win streak to the No. 3 seed in the East. The ceiling is remarkably high for this group, as it still has plenty of room to grow if Ben Simmons can develop his jump shot, Markelle Fultz can develop a jump shot and Joel Embiid can curb his turnovers. There's little reason to argue that Philadelphia can't top 50 wins once again, but 54 feels lofty for a team still finding its footing.
Bet: Under 54.0
2017-18 Record: 28-54
2018 Win Total: 32.0
General manager Sean Marks and head coach Kenny Atkinson quietly have been building one of the NBA's best organizational cultures in Brooklyn, and this season should represent another incremental step forward for the Nets. Injuries and other circumstantial barriers have held back former No. 2 draft pick D'Angelo Russell since he entered the league, but he's still only 22 years old and can continue to grow as the leader of a young team. Jarrett Allen has shown tremendous promise in the post, and veteran Kenneth Faried is in line for a career renaissance after being buried on the Denver bench the last few years. Plus, this could be the year that Marks takes a swing in the trade market for Jimmy Butler or another franchise player.
Bet: Over 32.0
New York Knicks
2017-18 Record: 29-53
2018 Win Total: 29.0
This past offseason's Summer League gave Knicks fans the most hope they've had in a while, with first-round pick Kevin Knox and second-round pick Mitchell Robinson both looking like instant-impact players. Unfortunately, they'll probably have to be, because the cupboards are largely bare otherwise in New York. It's anyone's guess how long Kristaps Porzingis remains out with a torn ACL, but there's zero incentive to rush him back—the Knicks aren't making the playoffs with or without him. And without him, they're among the very worst teams in the league.
Bet: Under 29.0