For the better part of a decade, the Eastern Conference has been predictable in a good way for NBA bettors. You knew LeBron James’ teams, either the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Miami Heat, would win a ton of games, waltz through the Eastern Conference playoff bracket and earn an NBA Finals bid. And all these years later, nothing has changed—well, almost nothing. Eastern Conference futures should still begin and end with the Cavaliers, LeBron’s current team. They are the toast of the East.
And unless a member of their Big Three suffers a catastrophic injury, they should be in line for another NBA Finals appearance.
Two things have changed, though. For starters, the Cavaliers, unlike LeBron’s teams in years past, are not reliable individual game plays. They are topsy turvy, a mess on some nights, a glorious blend of offense and defense and overall dominance on others.
The other change is that LeBron’s team is no longer a title favorite. Yes, the Cavaliers are favorites to make it out of the East once more.
But the NBA Finals favorites will be found in the Western Conference, specifically in Oakland and San Antonio, where the Warriors and Spurs, respectively, are making history.
This is a double-edged sword for all Cleveland futures enthusiast.
On the one hand, the Cavaliers’ championsip odds will be a bit more lucrative since they aren’t the primary favorite.
On the other hand, those odds still aren’t that lucrative becuase the Cavaliers are still head and shoulders above the rest of the East.
Right now, it’s best to avoid championship futures for the Cavaliers altogether. Revisit them come playoff time. Focus instead on Eastern Conference futures and any single game certainties you can find.
Best NBA Eastern Conference Sportsbook Odds
Your piping hot Eastern Conference betting lines are below. Return here whenever you’re looking to peruse moneylines, spreads, overs and unders for the latest games.
What Are The NBA Eastern Conference Standings Today
Viewing the Eastern Conference’s standings daily should be a reflexive part of your NBA betting repertoire. These standings are an understated goldmine.
They provide a quick view of which teams are better or worse than others, and they allow you to get a head start on the playoff bracket by assessing which teams have the potential to match up against certain other opponents in the first round.
Do not underestimate the value of those hypothetical first round playoff dates. They shape the rest of the postseason.
You can realistically map out a few different paths for certain teams—the most likely ones. And by doing that, you’ll have a better idea of which squads will be more attractive wagers when the postseson rolls around.
How To Make Money Betting On NBA Eastern Conference
This adivce comes with a discalimer: Everything we said about the Cavaliers above remains true. They are still the decided Eastern Conference favorites. They are the closest thing to a sure futures bet you can get in the East, and that cannot be discounted.
At the same time, they have never appeared more vulnerable. LeBron James isn’t shooting well from the outside, Kevin Love disappears for games at a time and Kyrie Irving has been uncharacteristically hot and cold as he struggles to master the hybrid point guard-shooting guard role he is forced to assume whenever he plays beside King James.
Mix in the rises of other teams, such as the Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors, and now might be the time invest in some long shot Eastern Conference future plays.
See, while the Cavaliers are still favorites, you can envision any one of the Hawks, Celtics, Heat and Raptors, assuming each team is healthy, upsetting them in a best of seven series. The Raptors, it seems, have the best shot. They have been nipping at the Cavaliers’ heels all season, and though their offensive attacks are on equal footing, the Raptors’ defense has been more consistent of late, earning it a distinct edge.
Sportsbooks have started to notice this paradigm shift as well, so you won’t find drop dead awesome odds at every stop. But if you shop around enough, you’ll find something—especially if you look around when the Cavaliers are on a winning streak. The odds of their closest rivals suffer when the Cavaliers experience a slump. When they’re on the up and up, though, that’s the time to bet. You know what the Cavaliers are at this point—incredibly unpredictable. And a few winning streaks don’t suddenly mean they’re finally the team they’re supposed to be.
Indeed, you’ll need to be smart about which underdog you’re picking. And the amount of your wagers should top out at modest. But still, for the first time since 2009-10, it looks like another team aside from LeBron’s squad has an opportunity to experience life in the NBA Finals.