Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee before a Milwaukee Bucks NBA game. 2023-24 NBA Eastern Conference: Predictions & Betting Odds  Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee before a Milwaukee Bucks NBA game. 2023-24 NBA Eastern Conference: Predictions & Betting Odds
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The conclusion of the Damian Lillard saga arrived as a shock to many, as the former Trail Blazers point guard made an unexpected leap to team up with Giannis Antetokounmpo in the Milwaukee Bucks camp.

The Boston Celtics were also pretty active in the offseason, adding Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday to their roster, meaning we now have two super-teams in the East.

Last year’s NBA finalists, the Miami Heat, will also have something to say, just as the Philadelphia 76ers and the Cleveland Cavaliers should be certain playoff contestants.

We will share our top NBA picks and predictions for the East, the best odds at US sportsbooks, as well as our thoughts on the power rankings just before the start of the season.

Learn More: 2023-24 NBA Western Conference: Predictions & Betting Odds

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Boston and Milwaukee Above Everyone Else

It is no surprise to see the Celtics and the Bucks way ahead of the rest of the field in the East when it comes to the top-seed predictions at online sportsbooks in the US. Boston was stopped by the Miami Heat in the Conference Finals last year, and they have been surprisingly active in the offseason to bolster the already strong squad.

Indeed, the Boston Celtics have done so by adding Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday to make one of the strongest starting units in the league. The squad depth suffered as the Celtics now have a significantly weaker bench with the departures of Malcolm Brogdon, Danilo Gallinari, Marcus Smart, Grant Williams, and Robert Williams. It remains to be seen how the lack of depth will affect the team in the crucial playoff affairs next year. It should by no means prevent the Celtics from clinching the Atlantic Division and getting one of the top two seeds in the East. Are we brave enough to back them over the Bucks? Not at this moment.

The Milwaukee Bucks won 58 games in the regular season last year, and they’ve just added a superstar, Damian Lillard, to their squad. Dame and Giannis will make a deadly duo and have a great supporting cast in Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, and Bobby Portis. The Bucks have the same problem with depth after losing Jrue Holiday, Grayson Allen, Joe Ingles, and Wesley Matthews this summer. Another big question mark arises around the capabilities of new head coach Adrian Griffin.

However, the lack of depth will not prevent us from backing the new best duo in the league to go all the way to the NBA Championship game this year. We’ve seen many astonishing partnerships in the league throughout history. Many players were considered “the next Kobe and Shaq,” but no comparison can be more accurate than this one. With Dame and Giannis, we have all the ingredients of a genuine Kobe and Shaq combo, and we are not going to bet against them.

The best betting option by some distance is the prediction of the teams to feature in the Eastern Conference Finals. Boston and Milwaukee are just miles away from the rest of the pack at the moment, and we will back these two teams to meet each other in the conference final at the sky-high +285 odds with DraftKings.

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Teams Projected to Make the Playoffs

The Cleveland Cavaliers were one of the most pleasant surprises of the regular season last year. They had to endure an early playoff exit at the hands of the New York Knicks, but this group of players should improve this year. With Donovan Mitchell, Evan Mobley, Darius Garland, and Jarrett Allen, the Cavs have an extremely talented and young roster capable of challenging the title in the years to come. They’ll make the playoffs, but this season is too soon for a serious conference title contention.

The Philadelphia 76ers are perennial playoff contenders led by the reigning NBA MVP, Joel Embiid. James Harden is still on the roster, but whether he stays or leaves, Phila should not have any problems securing the postseason action. It will be very interesting to see how Nick Nurse will resolve the generally weak team chemistry.

We must not forget last season’s Eastern Conference champions, the Miami Heat, who will return that team’s core, including Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, Caleb Martin, Duncan Robinson, Kevin Love, and Kyle Lowry. They need to do better than the last season’s eighth seed in the regular season.

Let’s round up this department with the New York Knicks, who should also be a certain playoff contestant. Between the two seasons, they replaced Obi Toppin with Donte DiVincenzo and have all the reasons to hope for an even better score than 47 wins, with Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle as the leaders.

Play-in Candidates

This is the most exciting part from the betting perspective. We’ll have five more teams battling for the final two playoff spots, including Atlanta, Indiana, Brooklyn, Chicago, and Orlando.

Looking at the odds, the best value can be found with the Indiana Pacers, who possess enough quality to be considered a genuine .500 team. Such a record would almost guarantee them a place in the postseason. We like both of the significant additions this summer, as Indiana acquired Denver’s Bruce Brown and New York Knicks’ Obi Toppin. The former will bring the NBA Finals experience, while the latter had an extraordinary campaign last year with NY.

Tyrese Haliburton enjoyed a spectacular breakthrough season for the Pacers, and Myles Turner is still among the very best defensive centers on the planet. Buddy Hield and TJ McConnell might get traded during the season, but their potential absences should not prevent Indiana from staying competitive in the East. We’ll take the plus odds for these Pacers to make the playoffs all day long. DraftKings has them at +128 to do so at the moment.

The Bottom Four

We currently have Toronto, Detroit, Charlotte, and Washington as the weakest four teams in the conference, and we can hardly see any of these outfits in a serious playoff push at the end of the regular season. Punters who’d like to add more betting action ahead of the start of the new campaign can chase the Detroit Pistons as our favorite of four sides in this department.

How can you chase the Pistons? BetMGM currently has them at 145 odds to get 30 wins in the season. We know we are talking about a team that went 17-65 last year. However, all of Detroit’s talented youngsters are a year older and will surely be much better this time. The 2021 No. 1 draft pick, Cade Cunningham, seems fully recovered from his injury and is finally ready to play the full season. The Pistons also kept their top scorer, Bojan Bogdanovic, adding experience by signing Monte Morris and Joe Harris. When you add these guys to the likes of Jaden Ivey, Ausar Thompson, and Jalen Duren, you get a very serious group of players led by a fantastic head coach, Monty Williams.

The Pistons will be anything but a naïve rival for any team in the league, and we back them to get to 30+ wins in the season at the +145 odds with BetMGM.

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