NBA Basketball: 2017-18 Atlantic Division Preview; Bovada’s Season Prop Bets

Can Kyle Lowry and company do much more than be “pretenders” north of the border?

Atlantic Division Preview: Season Wins Edition

Let us take a look at the five teams in the Atlantic Division and gauge their prospects for season projections on win totals.

The Atlantic Division is an intriguing one, in the sense that three of its team should experience vast improvements upon last season. Which are they? Well, one might guess it is certainly not the New York Knicks. Alas, let us dive in!

All betting futures c/o Bovada.

Boston Celtics
Regular Season Wins: Over/under 55.5
Over (+120); Under (-150)

The Boston Celtics accrued enough assets to become the envy of the entire league, and this season should be the culmination of a lot of that asset stacking. Not only did the Celtics add No. 3 overall pick Jayson Tatum, but Danny Ainge also finagled a way to sign Gordon Hayward and trade his high-scoring mini point guard Isaiah Thomas for Kyrie Irving.

The Celtics now have a couple premier offensive superstars to align with a well-rounded team that already played superb defense. Brad Stevens reunites with his former NCAA hero Hayward, and the C’s have the pieces to be serious threats to the Cleveland Cavaliers. We said that last year, however, after Boston added versatile big man Al Horford.

Does it carry more weight now with a versatile swingman like Hayward and a clutch performer like Irving? One must think so.

As to whether Boston can ultimately manage to best LeBron James and company in a seven-game series is a far tougher question, but few are disputing that Boston is, at minimum, the second-best team in the Eastern Conference.

As last year’s lottery pick Jaylen Brown matures, and Tatum comes into his own, this team is only going to get better, and it should be the natural pick to secede the Cavs after LBJ wanders to his next destination following this season. For now, we will take the C’s to best the 55.5 wins set by oddsmakers. Boston goes 58-24 and secures the No. 2 seed after finishing No. 1 in the East last season (due to Cleveland’s lackluster effort down the stretch, mostly). OVER.

Brooklyn Nets
Regular Season Wins;: Over/under 27.5
Over (-125); Under (-105)

The Brooklyn Nets were the losers (in the worst way) of the trade that acquired it Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce several seasons ago, but things are finally starting to come together in Brooklyn, despite the Nets being without a lottery pick again as consequence of Danny Ainge’s fleecing of the organization. The most interesting thing the Nets did was part ways with Brook Lopez to acquire ultra-talented former Laker D’Angelo Russell. Russell has the makings of either a superstar or a bust, and this will be the season we really get to find out which is it is, freed from the chaos of a Lakers’ team that really lacked direction the past two seasons.

Now Russell will be playing for his second contract, and along with Jeremy Lin, the Nets will have some talented pieces to make a run at, well, not being the worst team in New York? Caris LeVert looked promising as a rookie and Trevor Booker works as hard as any power forward in the league.

It is not the makings of a postseason team, but the Nets will manage to improve from last year’s dismal effort as it seeks to emerge from a basketball purgatory imposed by Mikhail Prokhorov’s overly ambitious effort to create a title team from nothing. That only works in baseball. That said, it is easy to envision Brooklyn being a hard-working and exciting bad basketball team, that edges closer to 30 wins. OVER.

New York Knicks
Regular Season Wins: Over/under 30.5
Over (+145); Under (-175)

The New York Knicks are projected to win more games than crosstown rival Brooklyn, but it is difficult to ascertain why, after losing both Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony. Perhaps oddsmakers (rightfully?) see these losses as “addition by subtraction,” and to be sure, Latvian superstar Kristaps Porzingis will finally be unleashed in a real and meaningful way this season. Enes Kanter might emerge as a bigger threat, and potentially even a starter, but the defensive problems he causes with his slow footed rotations will prove problematic for Jeff Hornacek.

The Knicks are set to decline, but the matter is really one of “How much can Kristaps Porzingis bail out a really bad franchise?” To be sure, a lot of that hinges upon how much Willy Hernangomez and Mindaugas Kuzminskas improve in their second seasons, but the Knicks really are at best going to be a poor lottery team, and it is not any sort of reach to think they finish below the Nets this season in the Eastern Conference Standings.

Anthony and Rose may have held Porzingis back, but the two scorers kept New York afloat in some strange fashion. Just not a winning fashion. We expect the Knicks to tally about 25-28 wins and make this an UNDER.

Philadelphia 76ers
Regular Season Wins: Over/Under 41.5
Over (+145); Under (-175)

The Philadelphia 76ers could make one of the biggest turnarounds in NBA history this year, but there are a lot of unknowns accompanying that assertion. The Sixers add No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz and also will bring 2016 No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons into the fold.

Typically at the addition of one first overall, teams make drastic improvements, so how much more so with two? Not only that, but Philly signed J.J. Redick to bring some veteran leadership and shooting—a perfect fit really. The thing that keeps people hesitant on the Sixers is the health of Joel Embiid. He played 32 games last year, and while starting (without Jahlil Okafor) next to him, the Sixers were a better than .500 team.

In fact, they possessed the win differential of a 51-win team with Embiid on the floor. He was rewarded for that potential with a $148 million, five-year deal, but it is a lot to risk on a guy who took two full seasons before he even suited up for an NBA game. Dario Saric is versatile and talented, but Philly has a crowded frontcourt with Simmons, Saric, Embiid and Okafor.

Philadelphia cannot manage to find any takers for Okafor, who is really a bit of an albatross if the team is to focus on developing Simmons and Embiid. There is a ton of talent, but can it all come together? This season? To see the team finish above .500 would be quite a leap, but what other team has more reasons to make such a quantum leap in 2017-18? We see Philly falling just shy of 41 wins with more like 38-39, which should still be enough to crash the postseason in a very weak Eastern Conference. UNDER.

Toronto Raptors
Regular Season Wins: Over/under 48.5
Over (-125); Under (-105)

The Toronto Raptors have become something of a pretender in the Eastern Conference for the past several seasons. Does much change this year for the club? Toronto added what seemed to be a missing piece when it dealt the under-utilized Terrence Ross for Serge Ibaka last season, and C.J. Miles should provide some much needed shooting alongside the other wing, DeMar DeRozan, who is hardly a three-point threat despite being an All-Star.

DeRozan is a classical 2-guard, but hardly fits this era of the three-chucking madness that has enveloped the league. Where does that leave the Raptors when its premier scorer is best suited to have run his career some 10-plus years ago?

All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry has become something of a regular season dominator but playoff disappointment, but perhaps that accurately sums up the Raptors in general. There is no doubt that it is a quality team, and it could even be said a team without any glaring flaws, but for now, the biggest one remaining is getting Lowry and company to rise to the postseason challenges that have proven too much in the previous three seasons.

Toronto probably finds its way to 50-wins, but what does it even mean if the eventuality is nothing more than a postseason bounce at the hands of Boston or Cleveland? OVER—if it even matters.

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