Eastern Conference

Westgate Las Vegas Superbook released their annual Eastern Conference over/under betting win totals, which always becomes a talking point in the basketball world. There will always be some things that people won’t agree on, but from my experience, Vegas always knows something we don’t, so there is legitimacy behind these.

The win totals give us a bit of a standings projection in a way, so we can consider this how Vegas predicts the teams will shape up. Last year’s Eastern Conference playoff standings were:

  1. Toronto
  2. Boston
  3. Philadelphia
  4. Cleveland Cavaliers
  5. Indiana Pacers
  6. Miami Heat
  7. Milwaukee Bucks
  8. Washington Wizards

But with LeBron James gone, everything will change in the Eastern Conference. And, via Jeff Sherman, Westgate LV SuperBook Manager, here are the projected win totals for every Eastern Conference team, along with putting them in their seeding accordingly, and whether I’d go over or under on the playoff teams.

  1. Boston Celtics 57.5- OVER

Boston is the biggest threat to the Golden State Warriors next season. They won 55 wins last year and went to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals with no Gordon Hayward for an entire season and with Kyrie missing 22 regular season games and the entire playoffs. Now they get their two best players back, along with development from their impressive young players, so the Celtics should easily be the best team out east.

They are the best all-around team with the best coach in the conference, and they might arguably have the best player in the East in Kyrie Irving. Also, the Eastern Conference schedule will help them collect wins because of how soft it’s considered after the top five or six teams, and they know if they want to beat Golden State, they will need homecourt, so expect them to go hard and collect at least 60 wins.

  1. Toronto Raptors 54.5 OVER

This is a team that won 59 games last year and secured the top seed in the Eastern Conference, and they improved this offseason. The Raptors acquired Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green for DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl and held onto their best young players like OG Anunoby and Fred Van Vleet.

Those two will have another year under their belt, and Kawhi Leonard is a massive improvement over DeRozan. If healthy, Leonard will probably be the best player in the conference, and he will have an excellent supporting cast. The team has a new head coach along with a new focal point, so it will take some time in the beginning, but they’ll get at least 56 wins. Remember, this is the Eastern Conference, and there are a lot of easy wins to collect. And if Leonard is the Leonard we all know, last year’s 59 will be attainable.

  1. Philadelphia 76ers 54.5- OVER

The young 76ers won 52 games last season, after not being predicted to come that close. And their two best players have tons of room for improvement. Ben Simmons showed generational potential as a 20-year-old and flashes of being a walking triple-double (15.8 points, 8.2 assists, 8.1 rebounds). Joel Embiid missed 19 games but has MVP candidate written all over him (if he hits at least 70 games). Those two should take significant steps forward, at least Simmons if he starts to show a respectable jumper.

Markelle Fultz will be available, and if he can play like he played when he returned down the stretch, it would be a tremendous boost. Remember, he was the number one overall pick for a reason. His growth will be beneficial to both Simmon and Embiid and open up another level to their games, which could help challenge for the two-seed, and like Toronto, go for at least 56/57 wins.

  1. Indiana 47.5 Pacers- OVER

The Pacers were the surprise team of the Eastern Conference last year. After trading away Paul George, the playoffs were not expected. But Victor Oladipo exploded into a star and won Most Improved Player, while Domantas Sabonis either doubled or more than doubled his stats. Both are still young and could even improve.

They won 48 games, and this is with Myles Turner disappointing and also missing 20 games. Turner has a high upside, and I expect him to deliver this season, along with the Pacers’ other young talent that should take a step forward. 50 wins realistic.

  1. Milwaukee Bucks 46.5- OVER

The Bucks had a lackluster 2018 season en route to 44 wins and a first-round exit. This is the year for them to take the next step. LeBron is gone, so a spot near the top has opened up, and they have one of the few legitimate MVP candidates in the Eastern Conference in Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The team is built around him for both him and them to succeed, and they will have coaching stability, unlike last season. They should hit at least 48 or 49 wins, but 50 wins should be considered realistic. Anything less should be regarded as a disappointment.

  1. Washington Wizards 44.5- UNDER

They are perennial disappointments because of the talent they have. Washington has a tremendously talented backcourt, although grossly overpaid. Last year, there was some rift in the locker room with John Wall and Marcin Gortat. The front office replaced Gortat with Dwight Howard, which can either blow up in their face because of the locker room problems Howard is known for creating, or it could be a profitable buy-low investment. I believe that they will not hit 45+ wins, and be more along the lines around last year’s 43 wins because the just never show enough.

  1. Miami Heat 41.5- OVER

There isn’t much to talk about here because they bring back virtually the same team as last year’s 44-win squad. The Heat are a starless team but a playoff one. They should hit around 43 to 44 wins and make for a first-round exit.

  1. Detroit Pistons 37.5- OVER

Starting point guard Reggie Jackson played in just 45 games, so having him back should be a boost. But I say ‘should’ because but he isn’t a guarantee to make the team better. He is a ball-stopper that mainly cares about his stats and has not shown the genuine ability to run an offense.

And the Pistons Struggled initially with Blake Griffin after the trade for him and ended finishing 17-17 with the star power forward, something that they found disappointing. However, they did win nine of their last 13, so there is some hope. There is enough talent, with Jackson returning, to finish with a .500 record. They 39-43 last year, but hired reigning Coach of the Year Dwayne Casey, have a full year of Griffin, Andre Drummond, and Jackson together, and who knows, maybe Stanley Johnson finally pops this year (contract year).

I can’t envision the rest of the teams making the playoffs. The bottom of the Eastern Conference bracket is weak already, and these teams are a step below. They look to be in for a long rebuilding season once again.

  1. Charlotte Hornets-35.5
  2. Brooklyn Nets-32.5
  3. Orlando  Magic-31.5
  4. Cleveland Cavaliers-30.5
  5. New York Knicks-29.5
  6. Chicago Bulls-27.5
  7. Atlanta Hawks-23.5

But who knows, every sports season has a surprise team that makes us all look like fools, and maybe we see one this year. If I had to guess, it would be the Brooklyn Nets, but it’s highly unlikely.

Featured Image via Wikimedia Commons