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NBA East title race set to go down to the wire

It looks like the Eastern Conference in the NBA is going to come down to the wire, as four teams are within a game of first place. Coming down the stretch, it will not be uncommon to see a new team atop of the NBA East standings every other day, and all of them have a legitimate shot to win it. With that being said, the odds reflect the uncertainty of the conference.

NBA Eastern Conference outright odds

  • Milwaukee Bucks +270
  • Brooklyn Nets +280
  • Philadelphia 76ers +440
  • Boston Celtics +500
  • Miami Heat +500

Odds provided by Bovada

Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks are the defending NBA champions and have turned it on as of late. It helps that the Bucks have Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday, and Khris Middleton, but they have put together a really solid team in Milwaukee. The Bucks are in the midst of a season where they look to repeat as NBA Champions and have been playing like it again. Antetokounmpo is such a game changing player that he alone should have the Bucks as one of the favorites to win the East. ‘The Greek Freak’ has become one of the league’s best players and proved last year that he has what it takes to become a champion.

While the Bucks have played below expectations, they have still found themselves right in the discussion to finish with the number one seed out of the East. Milwaukee is a tough place to go play in April and May but at +270 the odds aren’t sweet enough to warrant taking the Bucks, there are better bets on the board.

Brooklyn Nets

If the season ended today, the Nets would miss the NBA playoffs, yet they have the second best odds to be the team to represent the Eastern Conference in the finals this year. The Nets have had one of the most underwhelming seasons in recent memory, and they hoped to plug some holes and reshape their championship caliber roster at the trade deadline. They dealt an unhappy James Harden to the Sixers in exchange for Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and Ben Simmons, all three of them are starters for the Nets.

The addition of a proven big man in Drummond and a sharp shooter like Curry has definitely helped the Nets play more cohesive basketball instead of having three primary ball handlers. The only problem is that their big acquisition in that trade, Simmons, has yet to step foot on the court this season for the Sixers or the Nets. The last time Simmons checked into an NBA game was last season against the Atlanta Hawks in the playoffs, the tipping point for his time in Philadelphia. Bringing Simmons back this late in the season would be a questionable move and one that would likely not pay off for the Nets.

Even after all their struggles this year and roster issues, the Nets still find themselves in a position to make a run at the Finals. New York City lifted its vaccine mandate which allows Kyrie Irving to play home games again and the duo of Irving and Kevin Durant has proven to be just as scary as people thought. If there is one team that could win the Finals as a fringe playoff team, it would be the Nets. Don’t bank on it though, especially only at +280 odds.

Philadelphia 76ers

The Sixers caught fire after the acquisition of Harden from the Nets. They are 11-5 since Harden joined the team and they distanced themselves from an ugly divorce with Simmons. The Sixers cannot be talked about without the league favorite to win the MVP award, Joel Embiid. Embiid has been masterful in the midst of his age 27 season and is clearly in the middle of his prime. The trio of Harden, Embiid, and Tyrese Maxey has given the Sixers a new offensive identity and one that fits Embiid very well.

The Sixers have the talent to make some noise in the playoffs, they just have never done it. Last season, they were the favorite to win the title as they finished the regular season as the top team in the Eastern Conference but failed to make it out of the second round yet again. We have been here before with the Sixers and they need to prove it before anyone puts any real stock into them winning again. Despite everything that they do well, they have shown that they fail to show up at times and blow big leads, something that has followed their head coach Doc Rivers around for his entire career. The Sixers at +480 are a good bet, but they’re not the best bet on the board.

Boston Celtics

How about the Celtics? They have been by far the surprise of the second half as they are an astounding 22-3 over their past 25 games and have inserted themselves directly in the middle of a Finals discussion. Something very special has happened up in Boston as the team has shown that they will not quit under first year head coach Ime Oduka. Jayston Tatum has regained his superstar status as he and Jaylen Brown have worked beautifully off of each other dropping 30+ points seemingly every night.

We have seen teams get hot at the right time and make deep runs in the playoffs just off of that momentum before. The Celtics are playing good basketball at the right time and might be the best bet on the board at +500 to make it to the 2022 NBA Finals.

Miami Heat

Well, here we are. After leading the Eastern Conference for the majority of the year the Heat have fallen and look to continue to fall. For as good of a coach as Erik Spoelstra is, it seems like he might not even be able to stop the ship from sinking. Things seem to have started to go downhill after the Heat lost to a short-handed Sixers team without Harden or Embiid, then went home to lose to a short-handed Warriors team without Steph Curry, Klay Thompson or Draymond Green then fell to a bad Knicks team. Things aren’t looking good for the Heat as there have been fights on the sideline between Spoelstra and Jimmy Butler, and public comments that have gotten pretty out of control.

The Heat are a very good team but there seems to be some pretty serious tension in the locker room. It doesn’t matter what they have done up to this point, it matters how they play from here on out and things don’t look great in Miami right now. Leave the Heat alone, even at +500.

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