The Brooklyn Nets are the betting favorite at +170 odds to win the Eastern Conference even though they recently plummeted to the #8 seed amidst a nine-game losing streak. With only 4.5 games separating the top seven teams, the rest of the field in the Eastern Conference offers up tremendous value in their betting odds – including the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, and Cleveland Cavs — if the Nets cannot pull it together after the All-Star Break.
Giannis ‘Greek Freak’ Antetokounmpo from the Milwaukee Bucks and Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers smell blood in the water in the wide open Eastern Conference. (Image: Morrey Gash/AP)
Approximately 25 games remain in the regular season with the trade deadline one day away. The Miami Heat (35-20) are the #1 seed, but they lead by just a half-game over the Milwaukee Bucks (35-21).
2022 EASTERN CONFERENCE ODDS
Brooklyn Nets +170
Milwaukee Bucks +310
Philadelphia 76ers +475
Miami Heat +500
Chicago Bulls +1300
Cleveland Cavs +2000
Boston Celtics +2000
Toronto Raptors +4000
Atlanta Hawks +4000
Charlotte Hornets +6000
New York Knicks +30000
The Chicago Bulls (33-21) slipped to the #3 seed, but they held the top seed for most of the first half of the season before injuries and COVID caught up to them. The Cleveland Cavs (33-21) hold down the #4 seed, but they’re the surprise team in the Eastern Conference this season. Both the Bulls and Cavs are 1.5 games behind the Heat. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia 76ers (32-22) lurk in the #5 seed, but just 2.5 games out of first place.
Brooklyn Trade Rumors
The Nets are in the middle of one of their worst losing streaks in recent memory between banged up players and trade rumors poisoning the locker room. The team seriously missed Kevin Durant, who was sidelined the last four weeks with a sprained knee. Durant’s return date is still unknown, but it will not happen until after the All-star Game. James Harden has a strained hand, which sounds like an odd injury, but he’s struggled since returning to action.
Most of the chatter and trade rumors suggested the Nets will trade Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for disgruntled point guard Ben Simmons. Philly’s general manager Daryl Morey is close buddies with Harden when the two worked together with the Houston Rockets. Morey tried to acquire Harden in a trade last season, but the Rockets traded Harden to the Nets instead. Morey still desires to reunite with Harden and he has a troubled player that he’s trying to dump.
The Nets indicated that they’re not interested in trading Harden, and they especially do not want Simmons. The Nets already have a mercurial point guard with Kyrie Irving, who only plays road games because his unvaccinated status prevents him from playing home games due to New York City’s health mandate. They definitely don’t need two difficult players on the roster.
The betting market clearly overvalues the Nets. Even if they half their skid and unleash a big winning streak to end the season, there’s still the fact that they won’t have Irving for home games in the postseason.
Value Bets on Previous East Champs
The Milwaukee Bucks stumbled out of the gate earlier in the season thanks to a dreaded championship hangover, but they’ve since sobered up and playing some of their best basketball of the season. The Bucks are the second team on the futures board at +310 odds to win the Eastern Conference in back-to-back seasons.
The Greek Freak destroyed the Los Angeles Lakers last night with 44 points, 14 rebounds, and 8 assists. The Lakers were beat down so badly against one of the elite teams that LeBron James looked like his dog died during the postgame press conference. He knew that the Lakers/Bucks game would be a good litmus test to see if the current team could make a playoff run, and the Lakers failed.
The Miami Heat won the Eastern Conference two seasons ago after Jimmy Butler and the Heat got hot inside the NBA Bubble and ran the table in the playoffs to secure a spot in the 2020 NBA Finals. Never count out Erik Spoelstra in the postseason, which makes the Heat a team you do not want to face in the postseason.
Tyler Herro embraced his role as the Heat’s instant offense off the bench and he’s got the inside track to winning the Sixth Man of the Year award this season. Butler, Herro, and the Heat are worthy of a flier at +475 odds to win the Eastern Conference for the second time in the last three seasons.
Sixers, Cavs, and Da Bulls
Joel Embiid is the new betting favorite to win the MVP after a torrid January. He’s been a one-man show with the Philadelphia 76ers. Let’s not forget that Simmons did not play a single game this season, so they’re missing an All-Star caliber player and a top defender, yet the 76ers are still in the thick of the race for the #1 seed. The 76ers are only 2.5 games out of first place, but it doesn’t matter what seed they end up with because they’ll be dangerous in the postseason. The 76ers also offer value at +475 odds to win the Eastern Conference.
Keep an eye on the Cleveland Cavs. They pulled off a sick steal when they acquired Caris LeVert in a trade with the Indiana Pacers. The Cavs needed help in their banged-up backcourt and LeVert provides them with a high-volume scorer. The Cavs are +2000 odds to win the Eastern Conference, which seems like a pipe dream at this point, but they’re only 1.5 games out of first place.
The Chicago Bulls might’ve peaked too early after an auspicious start, but then again, they’ve dealt with a slew of adversity this season with multiple games postponed due to COVID and some of their top scorers missing time with injuries. The Bulls are +1300 odds to win the Eastern Conference, which is something they have not done since Michael Jordan’s last dance in 1998.