The National Basketball Association is made up of 30 teams (29 in the United States, and one – Toronto – in Canada). These 30 teams are split up into two conferences. One is called the Eastern Conference (i.e., the NBA East), and the other is called the Western Conference (NBA West). Each conference, which features 15 teams in total, is further divided into divisions. Each division includes five teams.
The East is broken down into three divisions: the Atlantic, Central, and Southeast. The eight teams that finish the regular season with the best record in the conference qualify for the playoffs. One team makes it out of the Eastern Conference Playoffs, qualifying for the NBA Finals, where it squares off with the lone team to emerge from the West. Bettors are able to wager on who will win each conference and division. We are here to help you understand the odds to win the East and each of its divisions, leading to a big pay day in 2019.
Understanding the NBA East Odds
Before we dive into the East breakdown, we will quickly recap how to read the odds. Below, you’ll see each team name with a plus or minus sign next to it. If the team has a minus sign after its name, the number that follows indicates how much money you would have to wager to win $100. For example, the Celtics have -130 odds of winning the Atlantic – that means you would need to wager $130 to win $100 if the Celtics won their division.
The plus sign, alternatively, shows how much you would win on top of a $100 bet. For example, the Raptors have +280 odds to win the Atlantic. That means if you bet $100 on the Raptors, you’d cash out with $380 if they won the division.
Odds to Win the NBA Atlantic Division
Toronto Raptors -5000 (Open: +330)
Philadelphia 76ers +1000 (+220)
Boston Celtics +2800 (-125)
Brooklyn Nets OFF (+5000)
New York Knicks OFF (+2400)
Brooklyn has had a surprising season but was finally eliminated from the Atlantic Division on Lou Williams’ buzzer-beater for the Clippers on Sunday night. That leaves three teams still in this race, and it looks as if the Raptors are going to make quite a bit of money for those who bet on them at better than 3/1 odds to win the division in the preseason. Toronto has a 4-game lead on the 76ers and a 6-game lead on the Celtics with 12 games to play for all three teams. There is still a small chance that Philadelphia could get hot and rip off a long winning streak — as it did at the end of the season last year — and put some pressure on the Raptors, but for that longshot to pay off, you’d need Toronto also to lose at least five times. What’s more, the teams have no head-to-head meetings left, and the Raptors won the season series 3-1, so they would still win the division in the event of a tie.
Odds to Win the NBA Central Division
Milwaukee Bucks -100000 (Open: +125)
Indiana Pacers +5000 (+160)
Detroit Pistons OFF (+400)
Chicago Bulls OFF (+1900)
Cleveland Cavaliers OFF (+1200)
It’s down to a two-team race in the Central, and that’s mathematically speaking, only. The Bucks, owners of the NBA’s best record by three whole games, have an 8-game lead on the Pacers with 12 to play for each team. For all intents and purposes, this race is over. The only bet worth making here is if you’re willing to lay a big chunk of change down on Milwaukee for a very small return in a month. And if you’ve got the cash to do that, you probably don’t need advice anyway.
Odds to Win the NBA Southeast Division
Miami Heat +105 (+160)
Orlando Magic +155 (+1400)
Charlotte Hornets +375 (Open: +1900)
Washington Wizards +1400 (-154)
Atlanta Hawks +75000 (+2400)
This remains the worst division in the NBA, and so it also remains the most wide-open race. The Heat has a 1-game lead on the Magic, a 2-game lead on the Hornets and a 3.5-game lead on the Wizards, and any of them could conceivably win it if they got hot in the last month of the season. The winner of the division also appears likely to be the only Southeast team in the playoffs, as the No. 8 seed (it’s possible a second team could catch Brooklyn for a second playoff spot, but that would take a hot finish). Orlando continues to hang around the race and has the feel of a team motivated to snap its seven-year playoff drought. But Miami might have the most talent. The Wizards are a tempting long-shot bet at 14/1 with only a 3.5-game deficit, but remember they’d have to pass three teams to cash that bet.
Odds to Win the NBA Eastern Conference
Here are each team’s odds to win the NBA Eastern Conference Championship in 2018-19.
Milwaukee Bucks +190 (Open: +1800)
Toronto Raptors +195 (+325)
Philadelphia 76ers +285 (+300)
Boston Celtics +400 (-110)
Indiana Pacers +3300 (+2500)
Detroit Pistons +6000 (+4000)
Miami Heat +8000 (+3000)
Brooklyn Nets +8000 (+8000)
Orlando Magic +8000 (+8000)
Charlotte Hornets +9000 (+10000)
Washington Wizards +12500 (+2500)
Atlanta Hawks +200000 (+8000)
New York Knicks OFF (+4000)
Cleveland Cavaliers OFF (+4000)
Chicago Bulls OFF (+10000)
Analyzing the NBA East Odds
The Eastern Conference remains a four-horse race, though it’s interesting to note that all four of the teams’ odds have slightly increased in the past month. The only notable odds to drop in that time are the Pacers (+3500 to +3300) and the Magic (+15000 to +8000).
That makes the time ripe to place a futures bet on the East.
Choosing whom to bet on is the tricky part, of course. All four of the top teams have shown signs of the ability to make a playoff run. The Bucks have the NBA’s best record and potentially the best player in the Eastern Conference in Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Greek Freak. Then again, the Raptors’ Kawhi Leonard has a stake to that claim, too, and Toronto has been very consistent all season.
It’s never a bad idea to place a basketball bet on the team with the best individual players (see James, LeBron; Durant, Kevin; and Curry, Stephen), and Bucks vs. Raptors remains the most likely Eastern Conference finals matchup. However, both the 76ers and Celtics have shown flashes of being ready to make a run and take down one of those top dogs.
If Boston, which has been inconsistent and fractured all season, can play like it did in a recent blowout win at Golden State a little more often, the Celtics will be a force to be reckoned with. Philadelphia continues to improve its chemistry and efficiency since swinging a big deadline deal for Tobias Harris. Either is worth a look at the current odds of +285 for the Sixers and +400 for the Celtics. But keep in mind that neither likely will have home-court advantage past the first round — and right now, Boston trails Indiana for the final home-court spot in the first round. So it’ll be a tough road for either.
Any long shots worth taking a flier on outside of the top four? It’s possible Indiana, which continues to be competitive even without Victor Oladipo, or maybe Detroit could take down one of the top four teams in a single series and shake up the Eastern Conference, but it seems like too big of a task for one team to win multiple series against those top four teams, which is what would be required to win the conference. Save your money and pick one of the top four.
Strategy for Betting NBA East Futures
Futures bets are a type of NBA betting line based on an event that will be decided further down the road. For example, this includes the odds to win the division or odds to win the conference, as we’ve mentioned above. There are a few important strategies to keep in mind when you’re betting futures like these. Let’s go over them so you have a better chance at winning your bet:
Note How the Team Finished the Season
Seeing how the team finished the previous year is a telltale sign of how they’ll perform in the coming year (assuming the roster is similar). For example, a young team that won 10 games to the end the season could carry that momentum over. Or a team that lost seven of its last eight games could be foreshadowing even greater struggles. Keep an eye on a team’s momentum of and how it finished the previous season.
Track the Offseason Changes
There’s plenty of movement in the modern NBA, so keep your finger on the pulse of transactions. Some teams will fire coaches and change their entire team philosophy. Some teams, feeling they are on the right track, will merely add to what they have. Monitor the news from free agency as well as the NBA Draft. Teams can acquire key players that can change the course of their season (like the Lakers acquiring LeBron James this summer). Paying attention makes it much easier to predict a team’s outcomes.
Know the Strength of Schedule
Once the annual schedule is released, every team’s strength of schedule gets graded. That’s important to track, because some teams will play easier schedules and some will have harder foes to match up with. For example, the Raptors, Celtics, and 76ers are in the same division, so they’ll play each other more frequently. That figures to be much more challenging than the Wizards playing against lesser competition. Take note of who has an easier or more difficult schedule, as that’s important for betting futures.