The Brooklyn Nets are 32-32 and currently occupy the #8 seed in the Eastern Conference standings, yet they’re the betting favorite to win the conference at +260 odds, with the Philadelphia 76ers (+340) and the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks (+350) not far behind on the NBA futures board at DraftKings.
Approximately 25% of the regular season is remaining with 21 or so games to go, yet there’s no clear-cut favorite to win the Eastern Conference. Only four games in the loss column separate the top six teams, and the top three teams are separated by just 2.5 games with the Chicago Bulls (39-22) and 76ers (38-23) in hot pursuit of the Miami Heat (42-22).
|2022 NBA EASTERN CONFERENCE ODDS|
- Brooklyn Nets +260
- Philadelphia 76ers +340
- Milwaukee Bucks +350
- Miami Heat +475
- Boston Celtics +950
- Chicago Bulls +1200
- Cleveland Cavs +2500
- Toronto Raptors +4000
- Atlanta Hawks +7000
- Charlotte Hornets +2000
The Heat were the first and only team in the Eastern Conference to pass the 40-win mark. The Heat currently hold down the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference, yet they’re fourth on the board at +475 odds to win the division and return to the NBA Finals for the second time in the last three seasons.
This is one of those instances where a significant amount of public money backed the Nets all season long, which is why the Nets are at the top of the futures board at +260 odds to win the Eastern Conference despite being near the playoff bubble as a break-even team. A few stalwarts think the Nets will turn it around in the postseason. The Nets have yet to see what Ben Simmons can bring to the team. He’s dealing with a sore back and his debut has been postponed.
The 76ers saw a heavy flow of money backing them to win the Eastern Conference and their odds improved after they ditched Simmons and acquired James Harden from the Nets. A lot of bettors jumped on the 76ers bandwagon, and they saw their NBA championship odds spike to +700, and their Eastern Conference numbers also followed suit. It’s only been a small sample size of three games — including two against the lowly NY Knicks — but Harden and Joel Embiid look great together as a dynamic scoring duo. The 76ers are 3-0 since Harden suited up for the first time, and they moved into a tie for second place. With the #2 seed, the 76ers are just 2.5 games out of first place.
The Bucks will try to become the first team from the Eastern Conference to win back-to-back championships since LeBron James and the Miami Heat pulled it off in 2012-13. In the meantime, the Bucks are +350 odds to win the Eastern Conference for a second season in a row. Greek Freak and the Bucks picked off the pesky Atlanta Hawks in the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals after Trae Young got hot.
The Heat are worthy of a flier as the best value bet on the NBA futures board, because you cannot never count out Jimmy Butler or Erik Spoelstra in the postseason. The Heat got hot during the NBA restart in Orlando, and marched all the way to the 2020 NBA Finals. The Heat were eventually knocked out by the eventual champion LA Lakers. If Goran Dragic did not hurt his foot, the Heat probably could’ve won the pandemic championship. Two seasons later, the Heat are in the perfect position to win another Eastern Conference title at +470 odds. The only thing you have to worry about is the Heat peaking too early. With 21 games to go, the Heat are top squad in the top-heavy Eastern Conference, but there’s a half-dozen or so contenders.
After a sluggish start, the Celtics are playing their best ball of the season, which includes a 13-2 stretch fueled by a nine-game winning streak. A lot of metrics geeks and analytical nerds love the Celtics on paper. FiveThirtyEight estimated the Celtics had a 35% to win the 2022 NBA championship as their second-highest NBA team from their analysis.The Celtics are +950 odds to win the Eastern Conference, but they could have a difficult road ahead of them if they remain in the #5 seed. If the season were to end today, they’d be matched up against the #3 seed Greek Freak and the Bucks. By chance the Celtics can knock off the defending champs in the opening round, there’s the Miami Heat in the #1 seed awaiting them in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Da Bulls were a front runner for most of the first half of the season. They withstood injuries to their top two players and survived a COVID-19 outbreak that infected nearly the entire team. With the outbreak behind them and Zach LaVine back in the lineup, the Bulls look like they’ll be a tough opponent in the postseason. DeMar DeRozan is playing like the MVP, and the Bulls expect point guard Lonzo Ball to return by the start of the playoffs. You can back the Bulls right now at +1200 as a value play to win the Eastern Conference, which they have not done since Michael Jordan’s final season in 1998.