The Eastern Conference is a dog-eat-dog world, and that should continue to be the case in the 2020-21 NBA season. The Miami Heat emerged as the conference champions in the Orlando bubble last season, but can they defend their title? Could this be the year that the Brooklyn Nets become the team-to-beat in the East? We’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, let’s take a look at some of the top contenders, sleepers, and long shots in this conference along with the 2021 NBA Eastern Conference betting odds, as brought to you by NitroBetting news.
Latest Odds to Win 2020-21 NBA Eastern Conference
|Team||2021 NBA Eastern Conferencce Betting odds|
|New York Knicks||+9000|
Tier 1: Legitimate Championship Contenders
Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets
Now that the Bucks have secured the loyalty of Giannis Antetokounmpo until at least the end of the 2024-25 NBA season, they can now focus on their goal of winning a championship. The Bucs were considered as among the favorites to win the title in the Orlando bubble last season, but they got ambushed in the second round of the playoffs by the Miami Heat. The pressure remains high for the Bucks to win it all next year. They’ll go as far as where the Greek Freak takes them, but the Bucks have also surrounded him with a souped-up supporting cast that got an upgrade in the offseason, particularly in the backcourt, with the acquisition of Jrue Holiday, a fantastic two-way player. The Bucks are currently priced +260 to win the Eastern Conference.
Meanwhile, the Nets (+260) are also gearing up for a deep run in the playoffs. With Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant healthy again, Brooklyn is ready to terrorize the rest of the Eastern Conference. The biggest question mark for the Nets this coming season is whether Kevin Durant will be THAT Kevin Durant again. The former league MVP sat out the entire 2019-20 season to recover from a devastating torn Achilles injury, though he’s looked in the preseason. Even a less-than-100% Durant is going to be a nightly threat to wreak havoc on the court. Remember, the Nets made the playoffs last season despite missing Durant and getting just 20 games from Irving. Another thing to watch out for in Brooklyn is how would new head coach Steve Nash fare in his first season as the bench boss of the team — or of any NBA team, for that matter.
Tier 2: Threats To The Favorites
Boston Celtics, Miami Heat
So long as the Celtics (+550) have the young duo of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, they will always be a big thorn in the side of any team in the NBA. Boston has locked in the two players for the long haul, while also making depth moves over the offseason. In the frontcourt, the Celtics signed Tristan Thompson to add a banger and improved rebounding to the table. Kemba Walker’s health is always a question mark, but the Celtics did bring in another veteran point guard in Jeff Teague to add stability in the backcourt.
The Heat (+575) are coming off a surprising playoff run, even taking the Los Angeles Lakers into six games in the 2020 NBA Finals. Jimmy Butler is the engine that’ll be running his scrappy and talented Heat team that offers more than the sum of its parts. Goran Dragic returns to Miami to give it another go with the Heat after missing most of the 2020 Finals with a foot injury, while Bam Adebayo is expected to take another leap this coming season. Miami is also being steered by an excellent coaching staff, headed by Erik Spoelstra.
Tier 3: Long Shots
New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers
Tom Thibodeau has the responsibility of turning the Knicks’ franchise around, but it’s unlikely to happen this season. New York has a long way to go before it can be taken as a serious contender, but it has some great pieces to start with. Take for example RJ Barret, who played well, especially towards the final Knicks (+9000) games in his rookie season. Speaking of newcomers, the Knicks are hoping rookie Obi Toppin can turn into a game-changer for the franchise that hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2013.
There’s an exciting youth movement in Cleveland (+15000), with the likes of Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, Kevin Porter Jr., and Isaac Okoro all expected to be featured significantly on the court this coming season, but it remains unclear what exactly is the direction the Cavaliers are taking. They still have Kevin Love, a veteran who could still provide double-doubles every game, but he’s a major trade rumor magnet, thanks in large part to his contract that doesn’t fit well with the long-term plans of Cleveland. There are plenty of questions that Cleveland will have to answer or shed light on first before it can become a real threat in the conference.
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