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NBA Central Division Odds: Bucks Favored Despite Injuries

NBA 2021-2022 Central Division Odds are led by the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have soared to unexpected heights but there are concerns whether they can maintain that excellence over a sustained period. The Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls are both severely depleted. Odds Shark takes a look at how these factors might impact the NBA Central Division odds below.

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According to the NBA Central Division odds at BetOnline Sportsbook, the Bucks are heavily favored to win the division, followed by the Bulls and the resurgent Cavaliers.

For more basketball odds, take a look at Odds Shark’s dedicated NBA page, which also includes prop betting opportunities and other betting suggestions from the National Basketball Association. 

Odds To Win The NBA Central Division

2021-22 NBA Central Division Odds
Milwaukee Bucks-400
Chicago Bulls+275
Cleveland Cavaliers+1600
Indiana Pacers+8000
Detroit Pistons+50000

Odds as of December 16 at BetOnline Sportsbook

Favorites To Win The Central Division

The defending NBA champions are understandably the clear favorites.

Milwaukee Bucks (-400)

The NBA is changing. The league has to be cautious with the spread of COVID-19 around the country, which means putting players in safety protocols even as a precautionary measure. As a result, the Bucks were missing a total of seven players in their game against the Indiana Pacers on December 16.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Wes Matthews and Donte DiVincenzo were the latest players in the NBA’s health and safety protocols to add to DeMarcus Cousins (personal reasons), Brook Lopez (back surgery), Khris Middleton (hyperextended knee) and Semi Ojeleye (calf strain) missing for the Bucks.

“We actually have started doing some things a little bit differently even prior to the positives that have come the last few days,” coach Mike Budenholzer said. “Maybe just continue to advance or heighten that type of stuff to try and keep everybody safe. Players, staff, just do the best we can.”

Still, the Bucks have been in fine rhythm since the return of Jrue Holiday and Middleton, pushing Milwaukee past an early-season slump. As of December 16, the Bucks are 19-11 for the season.

The Bucks are the league’s best rebounding team, averaging 47.6 boards per game. That will now be tested while Antetokounmpo is absent. He is averaging 27.0 points, 11.6 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.6 blocks in 26 games.

Value Picks To Win The Central Division

There are a couple of value options considering their lofty NBA Central Division odds.

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Chicago Bulls (+275)

With a mix of seasoned NBA veterans and young rising stars, the Bulls have built a roster that can compete with the best in the league on a nightly basis. The early season has panned out that way too with the Bulls winning 17 of their first 27 games for a .630 winning percentage.

However, the Bulls have also been hit badly by a COVID-19 outbreak. A total of 10 players have now been placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols with forward Alize Johnson the latest to test positive.

Johnson joins Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Troy Brown Jr., Coby White, Javonte Green, Matt Thomas, Derrick Jones Jr., Ayo Dosunmu and Stanley Johnson in the safety protocols. The NBA quickly decided to postpone the Bulls’ games against Detroit and Toronto. Chicago’s next scheduled game is against the Los Angeles Lakers on December 19.

As per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, “once players enter the league’s protocols, they must quarantine for 10 days or until they return two negative PCR tests within a 24-hour window. The Bulls have added at least one new player to the health and safety protocols for three straight days since their outbreak started at the beginning of the month. The team did not hold an organized practice Monday.”

The Bulls were just building some steam with a four-game winning streak before a pair of lopsided losses against Cleveland (115-92) and Miami (118-92).

Cleveland Cavaliers (+1600)

On paper, the prospect of the Cavaliers winning the Central Division would be highly unlikely because of their relatively inexperienced roster. However, they have punched well above their weight by winning 18 of their first 30 games.

As of December 16, that included a five-game winning streak with all five victories by double digits, including wins over Chicago and Miami. The Cavs are not going to be pushed around, especially if they can manage to keep players out of the safety protocols.

Some interesting trivia for your next NBA quiz: Darius Garland is one of three players in the league averaging over 18 points, seven assists and a field-goal rate of over 46 percent. The other two are LeBron James and Nikola Jokic.

“We’re living in the moment, but our big-picture goals are toward the end of the year,” Kevin Love said. “Two things we do extremely well are compete and play defense. And offensively, that’s the thing about this team, anybody at any time can whip it up.”

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Betting Strategy

The Bucks will miss some of their stars in the coming days. So will the Bulls. COVID-19 has provided plenty of curveballs all around, and the NBA is not impervious to that. Teams will have to stay fluid and get through periods without their key players. That will be Milwaukee and Chicago for the rest of December.

That provides an opportunity for the Cavs to shorten their NBA Central Division odds in the next few weeks. That is also your chance to book your bet on Cleveland if that’s your inclination. Meanwhile, this is not the best time to be betting on Milwaukee or Chicago because their odds will likely lengthen.

By the end of January, this uncertainty should be cleared up. At that point, the likelihood is that the Bucks will be back to their best and fighting for the top of the division and conference standings.

Outright betting often comes down to timing your bet. My strategy is simple: bet on the Bucks but not just yet. Their roster is deep and they can sustain lengthy periods even without Antetokounmpo.

You could always wait for Odds Shark’s next update to the NBA Central Division odds, which will come in January, before placing your bet. Stay tuned to this page for more information and betting suggestions for the division title.

Reading NBA Central Division Odds

When you visit a basketball betting site, you’ll notice futures odds laid out like this:

Milwaukee Bucks -500

Cleveland Cavaliers +1200

In this case, the Bucks have an 83.33% chance of winning the Central and the Cavs have a 7.69% shot. It’s important to remember that the sportsbook takes a cut of each bet. This is referred to as the vig or the juice. That doesn’t mean you can’t get value on your bets – more on that in a bit.

Let’s say you’re all-in on Milwaukee and drop $100 on the Bucks. You’d get a payout of $120 – your original $100 is returned along with your winnings of $20. Or, you’re thinking the Cavs can turn it around and that same $100 would get you $1,300 – your original money comes back coupled with your loot of $1,200.

To find out what you’d win based on the odds and amount bet, check out our Odds Calculator.

What is a Futures Bet on the Central Division?

Any bet made on events that will happen in time is a futures bet. Here, the bet is on an NBA team taking their division. You can make this kind of bet weeks or even months in advance.

The odds will shift as the season plays out to reflect surging or failing teams. As we mentioned before, you can get great value on your bets if you grab odds you like as soon as they’re available. A winning bet on a squad at plus money (+) gives you a better payout than taking them at minus money (-).