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Central Division is a One-Horse Race

If you were thinking about betting on the Cleveland Cavaliers to win the NBA's Central Division, you won't be finding any value.

LeBron James and company topped the Eastern Conference with a record of 29-11 as of mid-January, and online sportsbook Sports Interaction has tabbed them as astronomical -10000 chalk to win the division. The Indiana Pacers (+2800), Milwaukee Bucks (+3000), Chicago Bulls (+3000) and Detroit Pistons (+8000) round out the rest of the field.

The Eastern Conference has been LeBron James' playground since he entered the league in 2003, so it really isn't much of a surprise to see the Cavs as the heavy front-runners here. Cleveland sat eight games up on the Pacers for first place in the Central at the time of writing, and it would be a major shock to see any other team eclipse them by season's end.

If you're interested in backing the Cavs as a futures bet, consider their title odds. Cleveland is currently +235 to hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy in June.

2016-17 NBA Central Division Odds
Cleveland Cavaliers-10000
Indiana Pacers+2800
Milwaukee Bucks+3000
Chicago Bulls+3000
Detroit Pistons+8000

Odds as of January 18 at Sports Interaction

Archived Articles

Since LeBron James departed South Beach and took his talents back to Northeast Ohio, the Central Division hasn’t been in doubt. It’s the same old story in 2016-17, as the Cleveland Cavaliers remain massive favorites to once again win the division.

BetOnline has the Cavs as -1500 chalk to garner the bragging rights, with the Chicago Bulls (+800), Detroit Pistons (+3300), Indiana Pacers (+3300) and Milwaukee Bucks (+10000) well back. Cleveland was -1100 prior to tipoff of the season.

There simply isn’t any value in backing the wine and gold in this regard unless you think risking $100 to win $6.67 is a sound betting strategy. As of November 30, Cleveland topped the Atlantic and the Eastern Conference as a whole at 13-3. The Cavs have been especially dynamite at home, winning nine out of their first 10 at Quicken Loans Arena.

If any other team besides the Cavs claimed the Central, it would be a major surprise, but don’t tell that to the Bulls. Chicago (10-6) has been impressive thus far, as the major offseason additions of Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo have already started to pay dividends. The Bulls defense has improved tenfold after falling off a cliff last year, and they’re currently eighth in the Association in points allowed at 99.

Milwaukee (8-8), Indiana (9-9) and Detroit (9-10) have all been treading water, but it will be a major disappointment for the Pacers and Pistons if they miss out on the playoffs. Both clubs have been inconsistent, to say the least, and expecting them to finish ahead of the Cavs in the Central is foolhardy.

Do you think anyone can stop the Cavs, or is the Central going to be a cakewalk again? Let us know in the comments.

2016-17 NBA Central Division Odds
Cleveland Cavaliers-1500
Chicago Bulls+800
Detroit Pistons+3300
Indiana Pacers+3300
Milwaukee Bucks+10000

Odds as of November 30 at BetOnline

Archived Articles

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know how good the Cleveland Cavaliers are.

The Cavs found themselves in a 3-1 hole to the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals, but proceeded to make history by rattling off three wins in a row to bring a championship to Northeast Ohio for the first time since 1964. It was the first time in NBA history that a team came back from a 3-1 deficit in the Finals.

Unsurprisingly, the wine and gold are extremely heavy favorites to garner the NBA’s Central Division crown in the upcoming campaign. Cleveland, which comes in at -1100 at Bovada, is light-years ahead of Indiana (+1200), Chicago (+1800), Detroit (+2500) and Milwaukee (+5000).

That means if you wanted to place a $100 wager on LeBron James and company to once again win the division, you’d collect a mere $10. Not great, Bob.

So, is there a point in backing any team besides the Cavaliers to win the Central? Kevin Garnett may tell you anything is possible, but I can’t see anyone else snatching the banner this year. Cleveland is simply too good across the board, as James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love will be riding a high after last year’s epic comeback.

Detroit made a surprise postseason appearance last year, and they actually gave the Cavs a run for their money despite getting swept. The Pistons are young and well-coached; expect to see them in the playoffs, but they aren’t ready to challenge for the division yet.

The Pacers and Bucks both improved, while the Bulls made some questionable choices this summer. A Rajon Rondo-Dwyane Wade combination isn’t going to scare anyone, no matter how good Jimmy Butler is.

2016-17 NBA Central Division Odds
Cleveland Cavaliers-1100
Indiana Pacers+1200
Chicago Bulls+1800
Detroit Pistons+2500
Milwaukee Bucks+5000

Odds as of October 26 at Bovada

Archived Articles

Many NBA experts have described the landscape of the Eastern Conference in the upcoming NBA season as “the Cleveland Cavaliers and then everyone else,” and considering how good the Cavs look on paper, it’s hard to disagree with that statement.

If you’re looking to wager on the Cavaliers winning the Central division at Bovada, you’re going to have to lay some heavy chalk (-500). The next most likely challenger, the Chicago Bulls, are +400 to win the division at the shop. Jimmy Butler blossomed last year for the Bulls and has become a key member for the club, but the growing list of injuries that’s plaguing Derrick Rose has made it tough for the team to find its groove without the former MVP consistently on the floor.

The Milwaukee Bucks, Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons round out the list in the Central. Can one of these teams play the role of David in taking down the Goliath that is the Cavaliers? If you think so, there’s no shortage of value.

2015-16 NBA Central Division Odds

Odds as of October 21 at Bovada

  • Cleveland Cavaliers -500
  • Chicago Bulls +400
  • Milwaukee Bucks +1600
  • Indiana Pacers +2000
  • Detroit Pistons +6600

Archived Articles

To the surprise of no one, the new-look Cleveland Cavaliers kick off their 2014-2015 NBA campaign as strong -200 favorites at Bovada to win the NBA’s Central Division.

The return of prodigal son LeBron James, along with the off-season acquisition of Kevin Love, transformed the Cavs overnight from 33-win doormats a year ago to NBA championship favorites.

Hope springs eternal for the Chicago Bulls, who are pegged at a solid +160 in NBA futures betting at Bovada. Once again, the Bulls’ success will hinge on the availability of oft-injured star point guard Derrick Rose, who will be joined by forward Pau Gasol, signed by the Bulls this summer.

The Indiana Pacers, minus Paul George, who is expected to miss significant time with a broken leg, tumble to +2500 in Central Division futures betting at Bovada. The Pacers finished atop the Eastern Conference with 56 wins last season, but minus George are expected to struggle against the beefed-up Cavs and Bulls.

The Detroit Pistons, winners of just 29 games last season, trail with of +2500 odds at Bovada, while the Milwaukee Bucks are Central Division longshots with distant odds of +10000.

Odds to Win 2015 NBA Central Division at Bovada as of October 15

Chicago Bulls +160
Cleveland Cavaliers -200
Detroit Pistons +5000
Indiana Pacers +2500
Milwaukee Bucks +10000


Without Derrick Rose in the lineup the Chicago Bulls ended up 4.5 games behind the Indiana Pacers in the NBA's Central Division standings last season, but with Rose coming back this year they're the division favorites at the sportsbooks.

At Bovada the Bulls are pegged as the -150 favorites to win the Central Division title this season, with the Pacers sitting behind them on that list at +140 odds.

The other three teams in the Central Division are then all longshots to claim that title this season, with the Cleveland Cavaliers at +1400, the Detroit Pistons at +1800, and the Milwaukee Bucks at +6600.

The Bucks ended up 11.5 games behind the Pacers in third place in the Central Division standings last season, with the Pistons 20.5 games behind in fourth place, and the Cavaliers 25.5 games back in the division basement.

Odds to Win 2014 NBA Central Division at Bovada

Chicago Bulls -150
Indiana Pacers +140
Cleveland Cavaliers +1400
Detroit Pistons +1800
Milwaukee Bucks +6600


If Derrick Rose were healthy, a Chicago Bulls Central Division title might be a near certainty.

But with the team’s heart-and-soul point guard on the shelf with a torn ACL and no return date currently set, the picture becomes quite a bit foggier.

Coming off of two years in a row with the NBA’s best regular season record, the Bulls are still the betting favorite to win the Central Division at TopBet at -175 going into the season. Chicago didn’t make a splash in free agency to try and replace Rose’s production, so it would appear that the Bulls are hoping that the current core led by Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah can keep the team in the hunt until Rose is ready to return.

If any head coach is up to the task of getting the most out of his players, it is Chicago’s Tom Thibodeau.

With Derrick Rose out for at least half of the season (in all likelihood), this could be the time for the Indiana Pacers (+125 to win the Central Division) to pounce. Indiana doesn’t have the star power of the Eastern Conference’s elite teams, but Roy Hibbert, Danny Granger, David West, Paul George and George Hill are a solid starting five from top to bottom, and this team has a good bench too.

Coming off of a 42-24 SU effort in 2011-12, the Pacers are a logical choice for the division’s top spot if the Bulls falter.

The Milwaukee Bucks (+2500) are loaded with talented bigs in the front court and on the bench and have a pair of offensively gifted guards in Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings as well. There will likely be a learning curve as this team tries to figure out what it wants to be, but the Bucks should push for a playoff spot this year and could take a big step forward if they gel out of the gate.

The Cleveland Cavaliers (+5000) and Detroit Pistons (+5000) are both still early in their rebuilds. Rookie shooting guard Dion Waiters joins Kyrie Irving in Cleveland to form what could be one of the game’s most exciting young guard tandems for years to come.