NBA Eastern Conference Futures: Can the Nets Make a Run to the Finals?
The start of the NBA regular season is right around the corner, and FanDuel Sportsbook has posted odds for the Eastern Conference Championship.
Top 10 Odds to Win
- Milwaukee Bucks +240
- Brooklyn Nets +270
- Boston Celtics +600
- Miami Heat +700
- Philadelphia 76ers +850
- Toronto Raptors +850
- Atlanta Hawks +5500
- Indiana Pacers +5500
- Washington Wizards +5500
- Orlando Magic +6500
The Bucks and the Nets are the two favorites heading into the season.
The Bucks have been hands-down the best regular-season team in basketball over the past two years. They won more than 73% of their games back in 2019, and they increased that mark to 76.7% in 2020. They are led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, who has won the MVP award in back-to-back seasons, and a strong supporting cast highlighted by Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday. Holiday is a new addition to the squad, and the hope is that he will push them over the edge in the postseason. The Bucks have stumbled in the playoffs in each of the past two seasons, losing to the Raptors in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2019 and the Heat in the conference semifinals in 2020.
The Nets are a bit of a question mark. They have two of the biggest stars in the entire league in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, but they have yet to play a single regular-season game together. Additionally, Durant is coming off a gruesome ACL injury, which has historically been tough for NBA players to come back from. Still, this team has plenty of upside, particularly if they’re able to swing a trade for the disgruntled James Harden.
The next tier is comprised of the Celtics, Heat, 76ers, and Raptors. All four teams have title aspirations, but they will need a few things to break in their favor.
The Celtics have a full-fledged superstar in Jayson Tatum, and they might have the best roster in basketball from top-to-bottom. If Jaylen Brown can take another step forward and Kemba Walker stays healthy, they definitely have a shot to be real contenders.
The biggest question with the Heat is if they can duplicate their success from inside the bubble. Jimmy Butler led an unsung cast to the Finals, but they seemed perfectly suited for that environment. Butler is solely focused on basketball, so some of the distractions that derailed other teams were not as impactful on the Heat. Tyler Herro continuing to develop his game would be a huge help for this team, and that is obviously possible at just 21 years old.
The 76ers have two premier young superstars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, but they have yet to prove that they can actually fit together on the basketball court. Both players do the majority of their damage on the interior, so it will be up to new coach Doc Rivers to try and fit together two similar puzzle pieces.
The Raptors don’t seem to possess the same upside as the rest of this tier, but they weren’t expected to contend last year either. That said, they’ll have to make up for the loss of Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol in the offseason.