Bulls, Celtics, Sixers: Picking Top Over/Under Plays in the NBA’s East

Joel Embiid, Sixers and Pascal Siakam, Raptors

Getty Joel Embiid, Sixers and Pascal Siakam, Raptors

The NBA season is just about a week away and as teams wrap up their slate of preseason games—the final games will be played on Friday—it’s time to take a look at how the rosters are stacking up, especially if you have an interest in laying a few bucks on your favorite (or, heck, least favorite) team’s chances to finish over or under their projected win total.

Today, we’ve got the East, with the Bucks and the Sixers clear favorites to win the conference. One seems to be a much better bet to hit their win total, though, than the other. Let’s look at two best bets and five other teams that seem like reasonably good plays. (Odds come from PointsBet.)

Best Bets

Chicago, 32.5 wins. Gimme the: Over. The linemakers apparently are not as sold on the Bulls’ prospects as an East playoff team as others and the guess here is that this group is still not good enough to land in the Top 8. However, a young core of Wendell Carter, Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine was bolstered by some smart free-agent signings (Tomas Satoransky and Thaddeus Young) that should push the Bulls over the 31-win mark.

Toronto, 46.5 wins. Gimme the: Under. The Raptors won’t need much of a rebuild after losing Kawhi Leonard—they were well-prepared for his departure and ready to hand the reins over to Pascal Siakam and O.G. Anunoby. But Siakam has never been a featured No. 1 option, and he’ll have a learning curve. The Raptors will be a playoff team, but 47 wins is just too much to expect.

Pretty Good Shots

Milwaukee, 57.5 wins. Gimme the: Under. The Bucks have Giannis Antetkounmpo, but they were fairly lucky to avoid injuries among their starters last regular season—only Malcolm Brogdon missed more than nine games, and he was out only 18 games—and that kind of luck rarely repeats itself. The team had to slap together replacements when Brogdon (Kyle Korver, Wesley Matthews) left in free agency and with the East probably a bit better top-to-bottom, a slight fall from last year’s 60 wins is to be expected.

Philadelphia, 54.5 wins. Gimme the: Over. The Sixers’ bench will be an issue, but there is enough frontline talent to carry this team to the top of the East, even if Joel Embiid rests often. It’s unlikely they’ll hit 60 wins, but 57-58 is about right.

Boston, 48.5 wins. Gimme the: Over. Someone’s going to be third-best in the East and flirt with 50 wins. Could be Indiana if they can roll early without Victor Oladipo, could be Miami with a trade. But the Celtics, after swapping out Kyrie Irving for Kemba Walker and improving the chemistry, have the best talent after the Bucks and Sixers, so the guess here is it’ll be Boston.

Detroit, 37.5 wins. Gimme the: Over. They are a mishmash in some ways, but they’ve got top-shelf talent up front with Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond. They’ll need Reggie Jackson to stay healthy and Derrick Rose to produce off the bench, but this group won 41 games and should not regress.

Washington, 26.5 wins. Gimme the: Under. No matter what happens with Bradley Beal, it’s in the Wizards’ best interest to be bad this year. With no bench and injuries to the likes of Isaiah Thomas, Ian Mahinmi and C.J. Miles already piling up, this roster is poised to post the league’s worst record.

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