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Best Bets: NBA Eastern Conference over/under projections

Best Bets: NBA Eastern Conference over/under projections

As we begin to officially put the finishing touches on “Bet Week” here on BasketballNews.com, NBA over/under win total projections have been released for every team.

Which numbers stand out most to hammer one way or another from a betting perspective? In this piece, I unveil my over/under predictions for every team in the Eastern Conference. All odds are provided by DraftKings Sportsbook.

Boston Celtics: Over 54.5 (-130)

The defending Eastern Conference champions headline the best win total of any team in the league on DraftKings, checking in at an impressive 54.5 projected wins. Boston not only improved its roster following a Finals loss to the Golden State Warriors, but the team added some real contributors who will hold immense value with Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari. Also, Robert Williams staying healthy all season long would be a huge boost for an already elite defensive unit.

We’re hammering the over here because the Celtics have all the necessary ingredients in place to finish with 55 or more wins. Not only can their rotation easily go 10 players deep, but Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are two dynamic stars at the most important position on the court. Even if the Celtics were to swing a jaw-dropping trade sending out Brown for Kevin Durant, this team should be in a magnificent spot to hit this projected mark with ease.

Milwaukee Bucks: Over 52.5 (-115)

It’s never wise to bet against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks. More often than not, they always hit their overs when the roster is fully cooperating from a health perspective. Giannis is a player I’ve highlighted over the last week who is in prime position to make a serious push for multiple awards like Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year. If that indeed comes to fruition and Giannis sets a rampage throughout the NBA, Milwaukee will be one of the most dangerous teams entering postseason play.

The Bucks’ team-building job is a lot easier with Giannis onboard, but Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday are bona fide sub-stars who showed their true value during the team's 2020-21 title run. Also, re-signing Bobby Portis to a long-term deal was huge for the Bucks because he fits so well alongside Giannis as their complimentary stretch big.

Once more, I love the over to hit here at -115 odds on DraftKings. If Giannis stays healthy, the Bucks should cruise to 50-plus wins while posing a real threat to upend Boston atop the East standings.

Philadelphia 76ers: Over 49.5 (-140)

Joel Embiid and James Harden joining forces was always Daryl Morey’s dream vision in Philadelphia. Following a rough and quick postseason exit, it feels like the light finally turned on for good with Harden. All offseason long, Harden has reportedly stayed in shape while re-signing a team-friendly, one-plus-one contract, and two of his former teammates in Houston have joined the fray.

The Sixers signing PJ Tucker, albeit at age-37, is a massive move to bring aboard much-needed physical toughness to a roster sorely lacking it. Danuel House Jr. will also provide some two-way versatility off Philadelphia’s bench. Also, the draft night trade with the Memphis Grizzlies for De’Anthony Melton continues to be overlooked. Arguably the perfect complementary third guard to place alongside Harden and Tyrese Maxey, Melton should thrive within this role, as he mastered it next to Ja Morant.

Health is a huge question mark when examining the long-term gains of this over/under of 49.5. Will Embiid play most of the season? If so, this is another simple nod to the over. However, with an already deep history of injuries, tread lightly here on Philadelphia. Rolling the dice, I’m taking the over while praying Embiid puts together another fully dominant campaign.

Miami Heat: Over 48.5 (-125)

As always, the Heat are flying under the radar entering another season. It was an offseason filled with little to no activity for Miami outside of re-signing Victor Oladipo and Caleb Martin. Plus, they seem like massive long shots to ever enter the potential trade race for Durant after originally being a preferred destination alongside the Phoenix Suns.

Miami is returning a loaded rotation, although losing Tucker to a conference rival will sting a little bit. This is an over/under bet where you simply trust the system in place. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo are top-30 players in the Association. Tyler Herro is an emerging young star who is the betting favorite to win Sixth Man of the Year in consecutive seasons. Erik Spoelstra remains one of the game’s elite-tier tacticians too.

Add it all together, and Miami should flirt with a 50-win season in 2022-23. Trust the process and “Heat Culture” for the team to slide its way into a top-three seed in the East.

Atlanta Hawks: Under 46.5 (-105)

What a splashy offseason it was for Atlanta following its embarrassing postseason exit at the hands of Miami. The Heat exposed the Hawks’ lack of ball-handling help to take pressure off superstar point guard Trae Young. Now, with an all-in move for Dejounte Murray, Atlanta wants to surge up the East ladder. Can the Hawks recapture the 2020-21 magic with an All-Star backcourt pairing? Paying the heavy price the team did for Murray, Atlanta better hope this meshes as well as it looks on-paper.

For our projection, though, we’re going with the under at a slight underdog value at -105. Similarly to the Western Conference, the East is setting up to be a war, so the top eight could all be mixed together by season’s end. Teams such as Atlanta could be the prime example here, because 46.5 wins truly feels right on the money. In the end, a 45 or 46-win season for the Hawks would be a success, while also cashing plus money for those who bet the under.

Brooklyn Nets: Under 45.5 (-105)

I truly have no clue how this team should be viewed right now. With Kevin Durant still holding firm on his trade request, the 45.5 number here just feels like too much. If Durant is off the Nets anytime soon, Kyrie Irving would probably soon follow him out. It’s a ticking time bomb right now, so avoiding this bet entirely is the smartest play possible.

Brooklyn did a fantastic job outside of the Durant and Irving fiasco to add more depth to a team ready to push for a title. However, because of all the uncertainty, getting the under on 45.5 wins at plus money odds is simply too good to pass up.

Toronto Raptors: Over 45.5 (-110)

One of my favorite teams projected to take a massive leap forward in 2022-23, the Raptors finished the regular season off strong before their postseason exit against Philadelphia. Scottie Barnes established himself as a true building block. Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet are entrenched core pieces. With OG Anunoby and Gary Trent Jr. as the team's fourth and fifth-best players, it goes to show how loaded Toronto can become. The Raptors added more depth and remain a top contender to secure Durant’s services, if the Nets indeed decide to trade him.

Whether Durant comes to Canada or not, I absolutely love the Raptors as a team who should be pushing closer to 50 wins compared to 40. Hammer the Raptors over here to oblivion as they establish themselves as a real Finals threat this season.

Chicago Bulls: Under 43.5 (+100)

As I wrote earlier this offseason, Rudy Gobert felt like the missing piece to the puzzle for the Bulls to become a real threat in the East long-term. Now, with Gobert on the Minnesota Timberwolves, where does Chicago realistically go to pivot? It’s hard to see a clear answer right now, which is concerning over an extended window. The Bulls backed up the Brink’s truck for Zach LaVine, who definitely deserved the lucrative payday. LaVine and DeMar DeRozan form a dynamic scoring combination, but who else can help take this team into another tier?

Patrick Williams is a potential name to watch develop, but the real questions loom in the backcourt, for me. Goran Dragic signing in Chicago was very interesting, because the team already has a glut of guards on its roster: Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, Ayo Dosunmu and Dalen Terry. With Ball’s shoulder sidelining him last season, how concerning is that moving forward? For those wanting to monitor the betting lines for Chicago, Ball is an underrated piece to its early-season success as a connective two-way presence.

With the East even tougher, plus some looming concerns in the short and long-term view, I’m hammering +100 value on the Bulls to finish as a Play-In Tournament team vs. being a playoff lock.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Over 42.5 (-135)

Similarly to Toronto, this is another squad I'll love to slam the over on. The 42.5-win number here is too small for Cleveland, especially with its young core jelling together even further. Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen make up one of my favorite young trios in the Association, and I’m betting big on the three taking another huge step forward.

Don’t forget, the Cavaliers were rolling before injuries to countless rotation members begin to be too much to overcome. Caris LeVert, a midseason acquisition, should look much more comfortable in J.B. Bickerstaff’s system. Collin Sexton’s status remains unclear, but he’s a spark-plug scorer who would take immediate pressure off Garland.

Las Vegas is leaning towards projecting the Cavs as a playoff team, and I’m siding with them as well.

New York Knicks: Over 39.5 (-110)

Just like their cross-town rivals in the Nets, betting on a Knicks over/under win total right now isn’t smart. Wait to see how the dust settles for Donovan Mitchell in Utah first before deciding upon any Knicks-related props.

However, for my projection on Aug. 8, I’m betting on Mitchell to eventually land in New York before the regular season begins. With Mitchell, New York feels like a real playoff contender. However, even after signing Jalen Brunson, this Knicks team feels rather incomplete compared to other squads.

This one is simple: If Mitchell arrives, it’s a yes on the over. If not, stay away and hit the under instead.

Charlotte Hornets: Under 36.5 (-105)

Here's another organization that feels incomplete at the moment, especially with the ongoing legal situation surrounding Miles Bridges. As currently constructed, the up-and-coming Hornets feel further away than they did last season. Although Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier are solid veterans for Charlotte, I don’t put them on the same tier as the Cavaliers or Knicks. LaMelo Ball is approaching full-blown superstardom, but who else around him will be able to help consistently? This may be a hot take, but it might be in the Hornets’ best interest to bottom out for a year hoping to land a top pick for a stacked 2023 NBA Draft.

If there’s one team poised to regress from Play-In contender to lottery team, Charlotte certainly stands out, and I’ll take the under at plus value.

Washington Wizards: Under 35.5 (-115)

Are the Wizards in win-now mode? It certainly seems that way after Bradley Beal signed the dotted line on a supermax deal. The time to put together a winner in D.C. is throughout Beal’s hefty contract, but this team still isn’t close to being a real threat. In my opinion, Washington continues to stand out as the premiere “blow it up” squad because of Beal’s uncertain status. Now, with a no-trade clause, Beal pretty much runs the entire show now.

Washington added a starting point guard in Monte Morris, but that’s not enough to really make a sizable improvement unless Beal bounces-back with authority. The team's young players also need to take much-needed steps forward. At this moment, I’m betting against all of that occurring next season. As a slight favorite, feel comfortable selecting the under on the Wizards.

Detroit Pistons: Under 28.5 (-105)

It’s hard to argue against the Pistons possessing one of the most promising young cores in the East. Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren are ideal pieces to put alongside former No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham, who began to flash superstar potential during the second half of his rookie season.

While the Pistons added foundational pillars this offseason, the team is still ripe with inexperience. The rebuild remains ongoing in Detroit, but the exit signs are approaching. In the meantime, the young core is prioritized over wins this upcoming season.

Although a 30-win campaign sounds fun, another top selection in 2023 could really take this team to heights it hasn't experienced in decades. Bet on the under here, especially as the tank race hits overdrive post-All-Star break.

Orlando Magic: Over 26.5 (-120)

Paolo Banchero brings an alpha mentality that’s been missing forever in Orlando. The No. 1 pick has the ultimate runway to produce immediately, which is why he’s the betting favorite to win Rookie of the Year. Banchero could be a 20-plus point scorer right away, but don’t forget about some other enticing young talent in Orlando. Franz Wagner established himself as a core piece, producing excellent all-around numbers. Wendell Carter Jr. is a double-double machine with playmaking chops for a big man. Jalen Suggs hit the rookie wall, but if he can round into form it'll add another aggressive scorer to the equation. Plus, there's the returning Markelle Fultz as well.

Orlando owns one of the youngest rosters in the NBA, but it consistently showed heart by keeping a lot of games close. If Banchero’s adjustment is smooth, I actually like betting the favorite option here on the over. Something along the lines of a 27-55 season feels spot-on for Orlando.

Indiana Pacers: Under 24.5 (-115)

Rounding out the East’s over/unders list is the Pacers, who are now creating a noticeable difference at the bottom. With two games separating Indiana from Orlando, it shows how little faith Vegas has in this team winning a lot of games next season.

Tyrese Haliburton is the face of the franchise in Indiana now, as the team begins a rebuild over 30 years in the making. Bennedict Mathurin, the No. 6 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, brings a score-first approach that should mesh seamlessly in the backcourt next to Haliburton. Isaiah Jackson and Jalen Smith are two young bigs who have flashed two-way potential in addition.

Outside of that, trade rumors are the main subject ongoing in Indiana. According to The Athletic’s Bob Kravitz, Indiana would prefer to trade Myles Turner and Buddy Hield this offseason. Neither player fits the organization’s new timeline, and the Pacers should be able to fetch some real value in return.

Indiana is a team that really stands out as a prime contender to enter a full-on tank. For an organization that has never drafted No. 1, it would change everything for the Pacers to have some good fortune. Finally embracing a rebuild, maybe lady luck is finally on their side for good.

With that being said, my most confident play is the Pacers under 24.5 wins cashing.

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