Eastern Conference Predictions
As we hit the NBA All-Star Break, here’s our thoughts on which teams we feel strongest about to win the Eastern Conference.
The three-time defending conference champions looked lost just a few weeks ago, but the massive amount of trades seemed to have brought some life to the team. More importantly, LeBron James seems rejuvenated as well. The Cavs have won four straight while James has two triple doubles in those four games. Cleveland currently sits third in the East, 6.5 games out of first, but that didn’t matter last year. Oddsmakers at YouWager list the Cavs as a -180 favorite to win the East and it’s hard to see anyone unseating LeBron if he is focused and motivated.
The Raptors currently hold the top record in the Eastern Conference thanks to a 7-game win streak. They are listed with +300 odds to win the East but I feel better about Toronto than I do Boston (+500). The Raptors have been slowly improving in the East race over the years and they seem at their best yet this season. DeMar DeRozan has really stepped up and become a superstar while Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka provide good balance on both sides of the ball. I don’t think the Raptors have what it takes to unseat the Cavs, but if someone is going to do it, I think they have the best chance.
If you are looking for a big payout on a longshot, I like the Indiana Pacers at +10000. While they lack much in star power, it hasn’t stopped them from sitting in the fifth spot in the East right now, just ½ a game back for the No. 4 seed. Indiana has the fourth-best record in conference play (23-15) and has 20 wins at home. If the Pacers can lock up the fourth seed, or even push for the third, it gives them a great chance to reach the semifinals. A young and hungry roster, led by Victor Oladipo, Indiana is a team that will play with a chip on its shoulder as everyone counted them out after trading Paul George. The battle is an uphill one, but I think the Pacers could be the team to watch if Cleveland gets hit by the injury bug before or during the playoffs.