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Odds to Win the Atlantic Division: Raptors Eclipse Celtics as New Favorites

NBA Atlantic Division Betting Odds January 3, 2019

Coming into the 2018-19 NBA season, the Boston Celtics seemed to have been already crowned the Atlantic Division winner with oddsmakers giving the Celtics the second-best odds to win the championship behind the Warriors. Fast-forward to January and sportsbooks have changed their tune and have the Toronto Raptors as the odds-on favorite in the Atlantic.

Online sportsbook Bovada has the Raptors as -260 faves to win their fifth division title in the last six seasons, followed by the Celtics at +410, the Philadelphia 76ers at +420, the Brooklyn Nets at +25000 and the New York Knicks at +100000.

Since this is basically a three-horse race, let’s dive into the top dogs of the division and dismiss the Nets and Knicks for now.

Toronto Raptors -240

It’s not like oddsmakers didn’t think the Raptors had a shot to win the division. Toronto opened at +280 prior to the start of the season but what sportsbooks didn’t anticipate was how flawlessly Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green would fit into the lineup. The former Spurs have been excellent on the perimeter and their presence has pushed Kyle Lowry to play more of a facilitator role as he leads the NBA in assists. Another factor that was not considered was the evolution of Pascal Siakam.

The fourth-year forward is averaging 14.9 points per game and his hustle and energy bring to the Raptors a side that they haven’t seen since “Junk Yard Dog” Jerome Williams was on the squad. The value isn’t great and they only have a 3.5-game lead over the Sixers so if you don’t think they can continue this pace, the next team on the list may be more up your alley.

Boston Celtics +410

In the case of “too many guys,” that’s the only thing holding the Celtics back. A typical NBA roster has three or four players who deserve to be starters on any NBA team but the Celtics have the gift/curse of having six. Each player thinks he deserves to be on the floor during crunch time and so far this season, you can tell there’s a chemistry issue in Boston. The Celtics had the best road record in the NBA last year and only lost 13 away games but through 37 games this season, they’ve already lost 10 on the road.

Boston’s defense has regressed as it was third in the league last season in scoring defense (100.4) but is at 105.9 this season, which has moved them to fifth. They’re the one team that I think can compete with Toronto to win the Eastern Conference and at +410 to win the division, now would be the time to jump in if they go on a winning streak over the next month.

Philadelphia 76ers +420

Acquiring Jimmy Butler and being able to have three of the top 25 players in the NBA should be enough to push you into contention for the best record in the NBA, let alone in your division. But so far, the Sixers are still trying to get used to playing with each other and have the same problem that existed prior to Butler’s arrival. They don’t have enough roster depth.

Philly is so top-heavy that if Joel Embiid or Butler don’t have a great game, then defenses can key in on Ben Simmons, whose jump shot is non-existent. It also doesn’t help that Philadelphia’s defense is allowing 112.5 points per game to rank 23rd in the NBA. Considering the price for the Sixers and Celtics is nearly identical, I’d side with the Celtics.

2018-19 NBA Atlantic Division Odds
Toronto Raptors-260
Boston Celtics+410
Philadelphia 76ers+420
Brooklyn Nets+25000
New York Knicks+100000

Odds as of January 3 at Bovada

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In what should be the most competitive division in the NBA, the Atlantic Division in the Eastern Conference sports three teams that rank in the top six of odds to win the NBA championship. Oddsmakers have the Boston Celtics as the team with the second-best odds to win the title so, naturally, they’re tabbed as the favorite to win their own division.

The Celtics are listed as -130 favorites to take the divisional crown followed by the Toronto Raptors at +280 and the Philadelphia 76ers at +300. The numbers then shoot through the roof for the Brooklyn Nets at +15000 and the New York Knicks at +20000.

Let’s break down the odds and see which team has the best value:

Boston Celtics

Odds at -130

It’s pretty easy to see why the Celtics would be considered the favorite. The C’s had the best record in the Eastern Conference prior to point guard Kyrie Irving going down with a knee injury and will be welcoming Gordon Hayward back to the lineup from injury.

The Celtics have the luxury this season of knowing they have the depth to withstand injuries to their starting five because of the emergence of Terry Rozier and Jayson Tatum. The two young guns were instrumental in leading Boston to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final before falling short to the Cavs. Basketball is a game of talent and no team in the East has more than the Celtics so the odds at -130 may be a nice steal for bettors who don’t mind minus odds.

Toronto Raptors

Odds at +280

The reigning Atlantic Division champion, the Raptors had an offseason they’ll never forget as they sent their all-time leading scorer DeMar DeRozan and Jakub Poetl to San Antonio in exchange for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. On paper, this move can only be seen as a huge win for Raps backers for the upcoming season.

For starters, Toronto was ranked fifth in points per game last season and sixth in points allowed and just added the best perimeter defender in the NBA in Kawhi. If his head (and quadriceps) is into it, Leonard is the best player in the Eastern Conference and for a team that won 59 games last season, that number should easily jump over 60 for the 2018-19 campaign. The Raptors were 24-6 SU vs their division last year and their bench mob of Fred Van Vleet, Delon Wright, Pascal Siakam and CJ Miles ran opposing teams’ second units out of the gym.

Philadelphia 76ers

Odds at +285

Arguably the most exciting duo in the NBA, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid may be ready for prime time but is the rest of the Sixers roster? One of the key parts of Philly’s resurgence last season was the shooting depth they had in JJ Redick, Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova to complement Simmons’ drive-and-kick game. Belinelli and Ilyasova are gone, which means the Sixers are banking on Markelle Fultz to get over his shooting yips and become a staple of the youth movement in Philly.

I can’t endorse a Philly pick to win the division mainly because of a lack of depth and injury risk. Joel Embiid has yet to play more than 65 games in a season and when he was out of the lineup last season, the Sixers went 7-12 SU. Given Embiid’s injury history and Simmons’ lack of shooting prowess, it would take a massive upset for Philly to jump ahead of the Raptors and Celtics.

Brooklyn Nets

Odds at +15000

Now onto the state of New York where the Brooklyn Nets find themselves still trying to rebuild after their massive trade gaffe with the Celtics from 2013. While there seems to be some actual light at the end of the tunnel, I think it’s safe to say they won’t sniff the top of this division for a long time.

Their most talented player in D’Angelo Russell is still trying to find his footing in the Nets lineup and prove that he can be included in the discussion of decent point guards in the league. This will be Russell’s fourth season and he has missed a combined 53 games over the last two years. The Nets finished 28-54 last season and were an ugly 4-26 SU in divisional games. I don’t think I need to spell this out for you – avoid the Nets.

New York Knicks

Odds at +20000

This once prestigious franchise can’t really seem to do anything right. They draft a generational talent in Kristaps Porzingis, he subsequently tears his ACL. Zinger isn’t expected to play much (if at all) this season and the rest of the roster is bereft of homegrown talent outside of newest draft picks Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson.

New York won 29 games last season with almost the same roster and finished 10-20 SU vs its division and 10-31 vs the Eastern Conference. Much like I said with the Nets, don’t waste your money on the Knicks.

2018-19 NBA Atlantic Division Odds
Boston Celtics-130
Toronto Raptors+280
Philadelphia 76ers+300
Brooklyn Nets+15000
New York Knicks+20000

Odds as of October 16 at Bovada