- BetOnline’s updated odds still have the 76ers (-150) as the favorites in the Atlantic
- The Raptors’ odds to win the division (+300) are surging after a 15-5 start to the season
- Sitting only a half-game out of the division lead, the Celtics remain a strong bet at +350
After winning the NBA championship, the Raptors were expected to go back under the rock they came from after Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard bolted for Los Angeles.
Pascal Siakam didn’t like that plan. Buoyed by the improved play of their fourth-year forward, Toronto has the third-best record in the league (15-5) and lead their division entering Wednesday’s action.
At the season’s quarter-mark, let’s look at the updated odds at BetOnline and pick a winner in the Atlantic.
NBA ATLANTIC DIVISION ODDS
|Team||Current Odds||Trending||Before Season|
|New York Knicks||+100000||↓||+10000|
The league’s reigning Most Improved Player is, well, still improving. In his age-25 season, Siakam is averaging new career highs in points (25.1), rebounds (8.6) and assists (3.9).
Reportedly putting up 1,000 shots per day in an effort to raise his game, the man affectionately known as Spicy P has made the leap to NBA stardom, becoming a bonafide MVP candidate.
We need to talk about Pascal Siakam:
Last season: 16.9 PPG | 6.9 RPG | 3.1 APG
This season: 25.7 PPG | 8.4 RPG | 4.0 APG
Could Spicy P be the first player to win back-to-back MIPs? pic.twitter.com/WGt2mEVIUH
— Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) November 26, 2019
Fourth-year guard Fred VanVleet has also maintained the magic he displayed in last year’s playoff run, averaging an incredible 18.7 points, 7.4 assists and 2.0 steals per game.
Considering the extended injury absences of Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka, there’s no reason that Nick Nurse’s team can’t maintain their torrid pace and defend their division title.
Back in August, we warned against picking the heavily-favored 76ers to win the Atlantic. And while we can’t exactly take a victory lap with Philly (15-6) sitting just a half-game back of Toronto, there is reason for concern if you ponied up at -130 before the season.
Working in the 76ers favor is the play of Ben Simmons, who has blossomed into an elite, all-NBA level defender in his third year, leading the league in steals (46) while constantly guarding the other team’s best player.
Some fun Ben Simmons defensive stats:
– Leads NBA in steals
– 2nd in steals per game
– 2nd in deflections
– 2nd in loose balls recovered
– 2nd in loose balls recovered per game
– 3rd in deflections per game
— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) December 1, 2019
The 23-year-old Australian even hit his first career three-pointer a few weeks back, but with Al Horford and Joel Embiid still meshing in Brett Brown’s old-school post-up attack, the Sixers haven’t been efficient on offense to this point.
Philadelphia very well may win the division, but betting them at -150 is lunacy.
Playing with improved chemistry following the departure of Kyrie Irving, our preseason choice to win the division is also only a half-game back in the Atlantic despite losing forward Gordon Hayward to a broken hand.
Kemba Walker is averaging 21.6 points, 5.0 assists, 4.7 rebounds in his debut season in Boston while forward Jayson Tatum continues to improve in his third year, putting up 21.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.5 steals per game.
Kyrie x Jayson Tatum
Nothing but love ? pic.twitter.com/YimWONR9JT
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) November 29, 2019
The Celtics’ odds to win the division somehow haven’t budged from +350, making them a strong bet with three quarters of the season still to go.
Best Bet: Boston (+350)