The NBA regular season is drawing to a close, which means the contenders are being separated from the pretenders in terms of playoff seeding. Las Vegas oddsmakers have taken notice and adjusted their expectations accordingly, especially in the Eastern Conference.
According to Vegas Insider, the Milwaukee Bucks are now the betting favorites to win the east with 9/5 odds. It was only about a month ago that Milwaukee had worse odds than the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors, but a nearly flawless run of games after the All-Star Break put them on top.
The Bucks are 51-17 and three full games ahead of the second-place Raptors for the top spot in the east.
Toronto is not that far behind Milwaukee in terms of betting, as oddsmakers give them 12/5 odds to go to the Finals. At 48-20, they are all but guaranteed to finish second in the east and get homecourt advantage against any team but the Bucks.
Interestingly, Boston has the third best odds at 14/5 despite sitting in fifth place in the conference, two games behind the fourth seed. The Celtics have struggled at points this year and are facing a reality in which they may not have homecourt advantage in any series, but the core of last year’s Eastern Conference runners-up remains.
The Philadelphia 76ers have been inconsistent at points this year despite having arguably the best starting five in the conference. As such, oddsmakers gave them 4/1 odds to come out on top in the east. This Philly squad has historically struggled against the Celtics, which could bode poorly for them in the playoffs.
One last thing to note is that the Indiana Pacers are only 75/1 to win the conference despite having an identical record to the 76ers and a higher seed than the Celtics. Nate McMillan’s team has played hard after losing star guard Victor Oladipo to a season-ending injury, but the lack of one of their best players might doom them in the postseason.
Betting odds to win the NBA Eastern Conference ( Vegas Insider )
Milwaukee Bucks 9/5
Toronto Raptors 12/5
Boston Celtics 14/5
Philadelphia 76ers 4/1
Detroit Pistons 55/1
Indiana Pacers 75/1
Brooklyn Nets 100/1
Miami Heat 200/1
Charlotte Hornets 1000/1
Orlando Magic 1000/1
Washington Wizards 2500/1