I know, I know, the NBA season is only about 1/8th of the way through the regular season. And that is a very small sample size so you shouldn’t read too much into it. But there are certain truths that have come out in the first two weeks that might allow you to get down early on some future bets in the NBA that may pay off come early April.
From the early action I’ve seen, I think there are three bets on division winners that could pay you a nice score.
MIAMI HEAT -183 TO WIN THE SOUTHEAST DIVISION
It’s hands down the worst division in the NBA. The Wizards are awful. The Hawks are looking better, but losing John Collins for 25 games will not help them one bit. The Hornets are wild overachieving at 4-6 and have zeroed-in on making the lottery. The Magic cannot shoot, and their backcourt could be the worst in the NBA league.
That leaves us with the Miami Heat as the sole survivor in this dumpster fire of a division. Bam Adebayo is looking like one of the most improved players in the league. Goran Dragić is scoring. Tyler Herro is giving them a shot at more scoring. And Jimmy Butler is living up to his contract on both ends of the floor. Things have Heated up down in Miami since last year, and with the rest of the Southeast going downhill, I’m willing to take the short price on the Heat being the one-eyed king in the division of the blind.
BOSTON CELTICS +350 TO WIN THE ATLANTIC
Addition by subtraction. Kyrie taking his ability to breakdown opponents and his own teammates down I-95 south to New York from Beantown was the best thing that could have happened to the men in Green. The Celts were 12-3 last year without Kyrie in the lineup. You add a smiley-faced Kemba Walker, and the team that everyone and their mother were saying is going to waltz to the Eastern crown is back. The Bostonians have broken quickly from the blocks and are 8-1, leading the Atlantic.
Obviously, with Philly and the Raptors in the division, things are not going to be a cakewalk. But both of those teams have big question marks.
The Raptors, who were slated for 3rd in the division, have just gotten bitten by the injury bug and have lost Kyle Lowry for at least 2 months. Yes, they play great D, and yes, Siakam is an MIT (Monster In Training), but I don’t think they have a great shot of jumping ahead of the steamrolling Celtics.
The Sixers are the favorite in the Atlantic, but they are far from the complete package. They struggle to score from the outside after losing Jimmy Butler and JJ Redick. They are very thin, with five proven-quality players and a mish-mash of bodies backing them up. It’s not a great idea to be that thin, especially when your top two players are constantly in and out of the line-up, and one of those guys is constantly in and out of his mind.
I said the East was going to be a toss-up between the Celtics and the Sixers, and, from everything I’ve seen so far, I’d be a fool to change my mind. Getting the Celtics at +375 is a quality value play.
DALLAS MAVERICKS +900 TO WIN SOUTHWEST DIVISON
James Harden is an unstoppable force. He’s averaging Wiltesque numbers with his almost 37 points per game through the first 10 games of the year. Clint Capela is grabbing rebounds and clogging in the middle. Russell Westbrook seems not to mind playing second fiddle to The Beard. And Daryl Morey has resigned his position as a geopolitical commentator. All and all. the Rockets look pretty good and are sporting a 7-3 record. If the bet was straight up no odds, of course, I’m picking the Rockets, but that’s not what it is.
The Mavs are a ridiculous 9-1 underdog. The Mavs are 6-4 with two of their losses coming against the Celtics and the Lakers, the teams with the two best records in the league. The incredible thing about their 6-4 record is that they’ve done it without Kristaps Porziņģis even coming close to consistently being back to the KP he was before he got hurt with the Knicks. It’s been mostly the Luka show, with him averaging 28-10-9 and being maybe the best player in the league. If he’s not the best in the NBA so far, he’s not far off.
He’s gotten help from a deep cast of characters like Dwight Powell, Tim Hardaway Jr., and my main man J.J. Barea. They also have one hell of a coach in Rick Carlisle. If the Mavs can keep doing what they’re doing, and if KP can find some more consistency, then there’s a hell of a lot better than a 9-1 chance you’ll be cashing in a winning ticket on the Mavs come on the end of the season.