We are now just a matter of a couple of days away from the resumption of play in the NBA, with 22 teams converging on Orlando, Florida in hopes of winning a title. Normally, you would say that there are only a handful of teams in with a legitimate shot at winning this thing, but if you look at what has happened in other sports that have returned after a lockdown, strange things can happen. Take a look at the opening weekend of the MLB, where no team went 3-0 for the first time since 1954. The lockdown and playing in the bubble could prove to be the great equalizer. Will it be one of the favorites who wins it all, or will a dark horse emerge and better adapt to this weird situation? Let’s try to answer that question by starting in the Eastern Conference so you can start planning ahead your bets against their NBA odds.
Betting Predictions for the 2020 NBA Eastern Conference
Playing for Rankings
Things are a little clearer in the Eastern Conference than they are in the West with just 9 teams playing for those top 8 spots. The remainder of the regular season will consist of 8 games, which means that it is going to be close to impossible to run down the Milwaukee Bucks at the top of the Eastern Conference standings. They have the best record in basketball and a 6 ½ game lead, so let’s pencil them in as the #1
The Toronto Raptors also look to be the clear #2, as they are 3 up on Boston right now. The Raptors may have benefited more than most from the layoff, as they will come back healthy after having injury issues all season long.
The Celtics look to be solid in the #3 spot, but things could get interesting after that, as you have Miami, Indiana, and Philadelphia all within a game and a half of one another. Two of those 3 will likely be hooking up in the first round, so it’s going to be fun to watch that battle.
The Brooklyn Nets and Orlando Magic are at #7 and #8, respectively, and will likely stay there unless the Washington Wizards can somehow go on a winning run over the course of the next 8 games. The Wizards are 5 ½ games back of the final playoff spot and need to get within 4 games to force a play in series. It’s not an impossible task, but I just don’t see it happening.
Predicting the Playoffs
For the teams at the top of the Eastern Conference, the next 8 games are little more than a warm-up for the postseason, so this will be all about avoiding any type of major injury. The NBA tends to play to the seeding in the playoffs, so expect this to come down to either Milwaukee, Toronto, or Boston. The Bucks look like a great bet to go all the way, but I would not discount a now fully healthy Toronto Raptors team either. If you want a dark horse, maybe take a look at the Pacers, who had a very decent road record this season. That might help them in Orlando. Still, I am on Milwaukee to represent the East in the NBA Finals.