- BetOnline’s updated odds have the Celtics (-150) as the new favorites in the Atlantic
- The Sixers (+300) will need to trade for shooters in order to get back into the divisional race
- Pascal Siakam’s return makes Toronto an excellent bet at +500
Boston has turned out to be the ultimate post-hype sleeper. After not living up to the media’s NBA Finals expectations during a miserable 2018/19 season, the Kyrie-less Celtics are on top of the Atlantic with a 27-11 record.
Two-and-a-half games ahead of the Raptors and 3.5 games clear of the underwhelming 76ers, Brad Stevens’ team is now a -150 favorite to win the division.
Let’s look at the updated odds at BetOnline and determine whether anyone will catch the Celtics over the season’s second half.
NBA ATLANTIC DIVISION ODDS
|Team||Current Odds||Trending||Dec. 4, 2019|
|New York Knicks||+100000||↔||+10000|
The Celtics were our preseason pick in the Atlantic at +350 and we doubled-down on that recommendation in early December.
Kemba Walker has proved to be the perfect Irving replacement at the point, piling up 21.7 points and 5.1 assists per game, and forward Jaylen Brown has made a fourth-year leap, averaging a career-high 19.9 points and 6.7 rebounds.
He’s always smiling.
He’s always ready to contribute.
And he’s always keeping the locker room positive.
Halfway through the season, everyone can’t stop gushing about @KembaWalker‘s poise and leadership style.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) January 14, 2020
With Gordon Hayward back healthy and Jayson Tatum putting together an All-Star-worthy season (21.3 points, 6.9 rebounds), Boston’s deep, well-constructed roster should win the division.
However, it is worth mentioning that the Celtics have enjoyed the second-easiest schedule in the league (per ESPN) and are just 17-10 — with four wins over plus-.500 teams — since starting the season on a 10-1 tear.
Losers of six of their past eight games, the 76ers have been subject to no shortage of trade rumors over the past month with everyone from young point guard Ben Simmons to free-agent acquisition Al Horford on the table.
Philadelphia will improve once center Joel Embiid returns from his hand injury. But if we’re assigning blame for the team’s slow start, the real culprit here is obviously GM Elton Brand’s comically ill-conceived big-man-heavy roster.
Sixers are looking to surround Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid with more shooters before the trade deadline, per @KevinOConnorNBA
Philly’s trade targets include Robert Covington, Andre Iguodala and Glenn Robinson III pic.twitter.com/Fzb9ZL58qm
— Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) January 9, 2020
Having failed to replace offseason departures Jimmy Butler and JJ Redick with any semblance of shooting, Brand’s Sixers have no chance as presently constructed.
No one took the Raptors seriously as title contenders last season, and after Kawhi Leonard left the reigning NBA champions in the summer, we all counted Canada’s team out again.
Let’s avoid making that mistake again by heavily considering Toronto at +500 to win the Atlantic. While the Raps are only playing .500 basketball over their past eight contests, soon-to-be All-Star Pascal Siakam missed 11 games with a groin injury.
Pascal Siakam got a special visit from DeMar DeRozan during his post-game scrum. ? pic.twitter.com/ezHLqzvIzz
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) January 13, 2020
In addition to getting Siakam’s 25.1 points and 8.0 rebounds a game back into the lineup (he returned Sunday versus the Spurs), veteran center Marc Gasol will suit up on Wednesday after missing 12 games with a hamstring strain.
Once sharp-shooting point guard Fred VanVleet returns from his own hamstring strain, the Raptors will finally be fully healthy and ready to defend their Atlantic crown.
Best Bet: Toronto Raptors (+500)