NBA Futures Predictions
If the NBA is a league of parity, we’re clearly not talking about the Eastern Conference. Although it’s true that this segment of the league is essentially up for grabs, that’s because no one team (other than the Cleveland Cavaliers) has established itself as a true contender — the exact opposite sentiment we can claim about the Western Conference.
Will any team out East challenge LeBron James and Co. for a title in the league’s lesser conference? Will the Atlanta Hawks be able to live up to the hype that they set for themselves last season?
Here’s a look at which teams you should keep your handicapping eye on from the Eastern Conference.
Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA Odds +300)
The Cleveland Cavaliers are your obvious choice for Eastern Conference favorites. Any LeBron James-led crew would be, but this group proved it was just a step away from winning a championship despite an injured Kevin Love and an injured Kyrie Irving on the sidelines.
Next season, Cleveland should be just as effective. There are a few teams out East that will look to challenge them (more to come on them shortly), but a healthy squad should roll its way through the regular season, into the playoffs and straight to the Eastern Conference Championship.
Chicago Bulls (NBA Odds +800)
Here’s another example of a team that could have done more damage than it did with a healthy roster. Keeping Derrick Rose healthy is crucial to this team’s success, but the roster has found a way to remain surprisingly competitive even when he’s out.
Jimmy Butler, Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah and crew will look to help ease head coach Fred Hoiberg’s transition to the big leagues this season.
Miami Heat (NBA Odds +900)
If there’s one team out East you should be excited to see next season, it’s the Miami Heat. And that’s wonderful for the NBA, because a Heat versus Cavaliers Conference Championship would be the talk of the league, should it come to fruition.
With Chris Bosh back in action, this team will compete for home-court advantage. But consider that Amar’e Stoudemire — albeit, an older, less effective Stoudemire — is also on board, and that somehow, someway Justise Winslow slipped to it in the draft.
Dwyane Wade was able to negotiate a contract to stay in South Beach, and the team also retained Goran Dragic. This group has the potential to pass Chicago as the No. 2 team out East when it’s all said and done.
Atlanta Hawks (NBA Odds +1800)
If we’re being completely honest here, the Atlanta Hawks overachieved last season. They set a franchise record for wins and made it to the Eastern Conference Finals, but they would have never accomplished either of those if their conference weren’t so watered down.
Entering 2015-16, the Hawks need to prove doubters (like me) wrong with a strong start. Otherwise, they’ll be fighting for momentum late in the year.
Indiana Pacers (NBA Odds +2500)
Casual NBA fans quickly forgot about the Indiana Pacers when Paul George went down with a broken leg. He was their source of offense and one of their top defensive players.
With George back and healthy next season, there’s no reason this team shouldn’t make the playoffs. They are without big men David Lee and Roy Hibbert, but with Jordan Hill on board (as well as Monta Ellis), a new look should do this roster some good.
Full 2016 Eastern Conference Championship Gambling Odds
- Cleveland Cavaliers (-300)
- Chicago Bulls (+800)
- Miami Heat (+900)
- Atlanta Hawks (+1800)
- Indiana Pacers (+2500)
- Milwaukee Bucks (+2500)
- Toronto Raptors (+2500)
- Washington Wizards (+2500)
- Boston Celtics (+4000)
- Brooklyn Nets (+7500)
- Detroit Pistons (+7500)
- New York Knicks (+7500)
- Charlotte Hornets (+10000)
- Orlando Magic (+12500)
- Philadelphia 76ers (+12500)
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