Are the Boston Celtics ready to become the next big thing in the Eastern Conference? Oddsmakers think so. The Celtics were labeled with a +500 chance to win the East, which is a significant leap from where they were last year. The C's made a splash in free agency by signing former Atlanta Hawks big man Al Horford, and they feature one of the deepest lineups in the NBA.
But once again, the King and his Cavaliers are the top dogs in 2016-17 Eastern Conference futures betting, and really, would you expect anything else? The Cavs are -250 favorites to once again represent the East in the NBA Finals. Fresh off a seven-game win over the Golden State Warriors, the Cavs will be hungry to repeat and bring Cleveland another title.
The Toronto Raptors ( +1400 ), Atlanta Hawks ( +2500 ), Chicago Bulls ( +2500 ), Indiana Pacers ( +2800 ), Detroit Pistons ( +4000 ), Miami Heat ( +4000 ) and New York Knicks ( +4000 ) have the next likeliest odds.
If anyone other than the Cavaliers, Raptors or Celtics wins the East it would be a huge upset. The Bulls had a busy offseason, but the additions of Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade are likely not enough to push them over the top. The Hawks replaced Horford with Dwight Howard and the Pacers have a ton of new faces and a new coach.
Cleveland Cavaliers -250
Boston Celtics +500
Toronto Raptors +1400
Atlanta Hawks +2500
Chicago Bulls +2500
Indiana Pacers +2800
Detroit Pistons +4000
Miami Heat +4000
New York Knicks +4000
Milwaukee Bucks +5000
Washington Wizards +5000
Orlando Magic +6600
Charlotte Hornets +10000
Philadelphia 76ers +15000
Brooklyn Nets +20000
1. *Cleveland Cavaliers ( 57-25 )
2. *Toronto Raptors ( 56-26 )
3. *Miami Heat ( 48-34 )
4. *Atlanta Hawks ( 48-34 )
5. *Boston Celtics (48-34 )
6. *Charlotte Hornets ( 48-34 )
7. *Indiana Pacers ( 45-37 )
8. *Detroit Pistons ( 44-38 )
9. Chicago Bulls ( 42-40 )
10. Washington Wizards ( 41-41 )
11. Orlando Magic ( 35-47 )
12. Milwaukee Bucks ( 33-49 )
13. New York Knicks ( 32-50 )
14. Brooklyn Nets ( 21-61 )
15. Philadelphia 76ers ( 10-72 )
The Raptors continue to get no respect. The second-seeded team in the 2016 postseason, the Raptors went all the way to the conference finals before bowing out to the Cavs in six games. Toronto took care of some housecleaning by re-upping All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan and added Jared Sullinger to bolster the power forward spot, so they certainly didn't get any worse.
Outside of Sullinger they are pretty much the same team as last year. They got the hard part out of the way by re-signing DeRozan, but they weren't able to improve enough to gain any ground on Cleveland.
The Cavs are still the heavy favorites in the East, however. There was talk after Game 4 of last season’s Finals that the Cavs would retool the roster around LeBron James by shopping Kevin Love had they bowed out in the Finals. Well, that didn’t happen.
Instead, Cleveland completed a historic comeback, and now the idea of blowing up the roster has a little less meaning. The Cavs will head into the season with essentially the same group that brought home the franchise’s first title. And the acquisition of Mike Dunleavy could be huge, as long as he remains healthy.
The team to watch out for is Boston, who made themselves legit by adding Horford. The Celtics have a collection of mid- to upper-level talent that many teams would be eager to get their hands on. They’ve also stockpiled No. 1 picks for the next few years thanks to the Nets wanting to get Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
The Celtics are building a good nucleus and used the No. 3 pick this year to draft Jaylen Brown, who has the potential to be a star. GM Danny Ainge isn’t willing to swing a deal just yet, but the Celtics are a superstar short of winning the East.
The Indiana Pacers are going to be a sneaky good team this year. They traded for Jeff Teague and added Al Jefferson to their bench. They also have one of the biggest stars in the NBA in Paul George, who put together a monster season after messing up his leg in a Team USA scrimmage back in 2014. With several new players and first-year coach Nate McMillan, the Pacers may need some time, but they should be ready when the postseason rolls around.
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