James Alberino 


The East is more talented this year than it’s been in a long time. The Celtics, Bucks, Nets and Sixers look like the top 4 teams but the Cavs will definitely be a competitive team in the mix and the Heat will be a really good team hanging around for a 4-5 seed. This is a preview of every team with some betting angles for the season:


Bucks: Right now the Bucks are the favorite to win the East at a lot of books around +260 to +275 with the Celtics either right behind them or the Celtics favored at other books. The Bucks are going to be without Khris Middleton for the first few weeks of the season and didn’t make any major moves in the offseason and added Joe Ingles as their biggest move. Without Middleton they lost to the Celtics by double digits 3 times in the Conference Finals last season and they struggled at the start of last season when they were dealing with injuries too. Giannis had 44 of the Bucks 95 points in Game 6 vs the Celtics and took over a third of the Bucks shots (they lost by 13). At full strength they’re still as talented a starting five as any team in the NBA, Giannis is dominant, and their bench will be more than fine when Middleton comes back. This is the best the East has been in years and Milwaukee’s not going to have an easy path making it to the Finals but they have a good chance of getting back to the Conference Finals.


Celtics: The hottest team from January to June last season minus the last 2 games of the NBA Finals. They kept their core together and now Malcolm Brogdon and Sam Hausser will help their rotation and give the Celtics even more shooting than they already have. Jaylen Brown looked great in the preseason and keeping Tatum, Smart and Brown together was the best thing the Celtics could have done. When Robert Williams is healthy this is the team to beat in the East and they’re a little bit deeper than the Bucks and have more shooting off the bench. The question is how many games is Robert Williams going to give them this year? He was in and out of the lineup in the playoffs last season, had surgery on his meniscus 4 weeks ago and is now out 6-8 weeks. When Williams starts this is the best defense in the NBA with Tatum, Smart, Brown and Horford filling out the starting 5. Joe Mazzula is a good coach and this team has a lot of chemistry so the Celtics getting back to the Finals may come down to the health of Robert Williams and how good of a coach Mazzula is in late-game situations.


76ers: The team that can give the Celtics the toughest time in the East this season in my opinion. Joel Embiid is coming off a season where he could have definitely gotten MVP (30.6 ppg, 11.7 rpg, 50% FG, 37% 3p) and got the Sixers to 51 wins when their 2nd best player sat out the whole season and the Sixers had to adjust on the fly to James Harden 60 games into the season. Harden got trashed in the media all last season for not being at the level he used to be at in the past and after a full offseason to train he looks a lot closer to the old Harden than the 2021 Harden. He came into last season injured and didn’t train in the summer and after a full 5 months to train I think he has a huge season. Tyrese Maxey looks awesome and shot 43% from three last season. PJ Tucker was the primary defender on Kevin Durant, Jayson Tatum, and Jaylen Brown the last 2 years in the playoffs and won a title with the Bucks and went to the wire in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals with the Heat last year. The Sixers added De’Anthony Melton off the bench who was great backing up Ja Morant in Memphis last year and Danuel House is a great 3 and D guy for the Sixers bench. Harden played with Tucker and House in Houston and the chemistry of this team is really good and Embiid and Harden are both looking to get over the hump after years of disappointment. This roster’s better than the 2018 Rockets roster that finished #1 in the West and as much as Harden has struggled in late playoff games, Embiid is so dominant and Maxey is good enough to be their #2 scorer some nights that Harden doesn’t have to do for the Sixers what he had to do for the Rockets. There’s not much separating the Celtics, Sixers and the Bucks but when Robert Williams is out the Sixers have a clear advantage with Joel Embiid inside and against the Bucks I can see the Sixers getting hot from three with the open looks they’ll get vs Milwaukee. Doc Rivers definitely worries me but this roster is loaded and at +700 to win the East/the 4th shortest odds in the Eastern Conference I like a play on the 76ers +700 to win the East.


Nets: The most intriguing team in the East. So much talent, so much drama. Can they patch things together and maintain it over an 82 game season after Kevin Durant and Kyrie bashed the Nets organization and Durant wanted a trade?


Durant: “The vibes have been straight but who knows what the vibes will be if we hit a skid or if we’re not playing well.”


On point. A starting five of Durant, Kyrie, Ben Simmons, Nic Claxton and Royce O’Neale with Seth Curry coming off the bench with Joe Harris, Patty Mills, Cam Thomas, Day’Ron Sharpe and TJ Warren when he’s healthy is a really good roster and a better one than they had last year. Especially that Kyrie won’t be sitting out half the games  and they have a full season to integrate Ben Simmons at the 1 and Kyrie off the ball more. This team’s fate comes down to their chemistry and if Kyrie Irving wants to start burning sage again or convert to Buddhism in the middle of the regular season. When they are on they’re going to be able to run the score up on some teams and cover some ridiculous alternate lines. I’d love to see a Nets/76ers playoff series where Ben Simmons has to go back to Philly and Kyrie goes head to head with Harden. My bet is they don’t make it out of the East and they themselves will be the toughest opponent they face this season.



Cavs: The Cavs will be a fun team to bet on and a great team to bet as underdogs this season. They were rolling last year before they had to deal with injury after injury and adding Donovan Mitchell next to Darius Garland is going to give some teams fits defending the perimeter. Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen were dominant defending the paint last year and their starting lineup with Caris LeVert gives the Cavs a rare combination of size, speed and shooters that a lot of teams don’t have. The bench is good with Kevin Love, Isaac Okoro, Lamar Stevens, Cedi Osman and Ricky Rubio when he comes back from injury. With the 6th shortest odds to win the East at a generous +1800 price the Cavs are worth a small bet to win the East – they may not be 1 or 2 in the East but they’re not far off at all and are better than +1800 to win the East. At the least they will be a good team to bet as underdogs, on the road and in the 1st quarter when Mobley and Allen start the game together and teams have trouble scoring.


Heat: The #1 seed in the East last year with 53 wins and they didn’t make any big moves in the offseason and missed out on Donovan Mitchell. This is still a really good roster that won’t take any nights off and they hopefully get more games out of Kyle Lowry than they did last year because if they do they can compete with every top team in the East. Losing PJ Tucker hurts for their defense and I don’t know if keeping the roster the same will be good enough to make the Conference Finals this season but there will absolutely be some great spots to bet the Heat at times. Their bench is deep and the roster is filled with guys who play defense and hit threes consistently. Bam Adebayo is shooting threes now and added that to his game. I will be betting the Miami Heat a lot as underdogs this year and when they’re off a loss.


Hawks: Dejounte Murray’s going to be really good for Atlanta and a backcourt with Murray and Trae Young is going to be really tough for defenses. They kept Clint Capela, John Collins and De’Andre Hunter together and Bogdonovic and his three point shooting is going to benefit a lot from the attention Young and Murray get. They lost Gallinari but they have more than enough scoring to fill his void off the bench and keeping Okongwu as their backup big helps them a lot.  The Hawks are going to be a really tough out. Right now they’re priced around the 8th or 9th shortest odds to win the East at +2500 to win the East – they might be a step below the top 4 teams in the East but they can give any of them a tough series and +2500 could get really interesting to sell off at some point in the playoffs especially if there’s an injury to a team they’re playing. I also think they’re better than the Bulls who will be without Lonzo Ball and the Raptors who don’t have enough offense or a deep enough bench to get past a lot of teams in the East. Atlanta’s undervalued right now and will be worth following all season.


The Bulls, Raptors and Knicks look like the 3 best teams that will be fighting for the play-in game. Lonzo Ball out puts more strain on Zach Lavine and DeMar DeRozan and the Raptors don’t have that superstar to get them past the middle of the pack in the East. Jalen Brunson’s going to help the Knicks a lot more than people think and Mitchell Robinson is one of the most underrated bigs in the NBA. The Knicks will be a good 1st quarter bet where they will be undervalued and Mitchell Robinson Overs (points, rebounds, points+rebounds) will be good bets.


I don’t know what the Wizards identity is with Bradley Beal, Will Barton, Daniel Gafford, Kyle Kuzma, Porzingis and Monte Morris. Too many above average players not enough star power around Beal. The Pistons will be scrappy with Cade, Jaden Ivey, Bogdonovic and a good core they’re just not deep and can go cold shooting. The Hornets won’t have Bridges, Lamelo Ball for a while (injury) and James Bouknight just got arrested last night. The Pacers are young but have more talent than being talked about – Haliburton, Hield and Chris Duarte give them a lot of offense and Benedict Mathurin out of Arizona looks really good. They have no depth and Myle Turner’s situation is unclear. The Magic have a fun young core with Banchero, Jalen Suggs, and Cole Anthony. When they’re healthy they’ll be good as underdogs in certain spots.