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As we're heading to the south of the Eastern Conference, the competition starts to really thin out. While the Washington Wizards at -1400 and the Miami Heat at -450 are strong favorites to make it to the post-season, the Orlando Magic at +600 and the Atlanta Hawks at +2000 are massive underdogs on the East Coast.
The Charlotte Hornets are at +125 odds to clinch the playoff berth, but the bookies highly doubt their chances to finish ahead of the Wizards and Heat and win the Southeast Division. However, all these five teams should bring some interesting picks during the 2018-19 season, so let's take a closer look at all important news and betting trends along with the latest futures update and betting predictions.
The Wizards made it to the playoffs last season for the fourth time in the previous five years, but they couldn't pass the Raptors in the first round, losing in six games. Washington finished eighth in the East with a 43-39 record, and second in the Southeast Division behind the Miami Heat, playing a half of its regular-season games without John Wall. The five-time All-Star averaged 19.4 points and 9.6 assists before the injury, and he stepped up in the playoffs to nail 26.0 points and 11.5 assists per game, but couldn't help his team to reach the semifinals.
In John Wall's absence, Bradley Beal led the Wizards averaging 22.6 points on 46.0% shooting from the field and 37.5% from beyond the arc. The Wizards played in a steady pace, recording 96.6 possessions per 48 minutes (18th in the league), and finishing the season 13th in the NBA in points per game (106.6) and 15th in points allowed per game (106.0).
Last year, the Wizards were 39-48-1 ATS (18-25-1 at home; 21-23 on the road), including post-season games, while the over was 40-47-1. Washington was 20-33-1 ATS when listed as a favorite, and 19-15 ATS as underdogs, while the Wizards were 14-16 ATS when playing against the Western Conference teams.
This summer, the Wizards signed Dwight Howard on a one-year deal, and the eight-time All-Star and the three-time Defensive Player of the Year should be a great reinforcement on both sides of the floor. Howard couldn't settle down in Charlotte, but playing with John Wall and the Wizards should suit him well. Washington definitely needed more power in the paint, and the Wizards decided to trade Marcin Gortat to the Clippers and leave the space for Howard.
If Superman manages to improve the Wizards' defense, they could be a strong factor in the Eastern Conference this season. Washington is the strongest contender to top the Southeast Division with the odds at -170, but the Wizards are +2200 underdogs to win the Eastern Conference, and +8000 minnows to win the NBA Championship. Hereof, the bookies don't expect any miracles from the Washington Wizards, and the Eastern Conference Semifinals should be a decent success.
I think the Wizards should win the Southeast Division, and they could make some noise in the playoffs if they stay healthy. With all their players available during the regular season, the Wizards should cover the spread more frequently than last season, and I expect them to grab a few more wins than in the 2017-18 campaign.
The Pick: Washington Wizards to win the Central Division at -170
Regular Season Total Wins: Over 45.5 at -115
The Heat topped the Southeast Division last season one game ahead of Washington, finishing sixth in the Eastern Conference with a 44-38 record. They lost to the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round in five games, while being outclassed by the talented Sixers squad. However, Head Coach Erik Spoelstra did a great job with an arguably mediocre roster, leading the Heat to the playoffs for the eighth time in his ten years at the helm.
As we could expect, the Heat played at a slow tempo, recording 95.6 possessions per 48 minutes (4th-slowest in the league), but their defensive rating was the 7th-best in the NBA as Miami allowed just 106.3 points per 100 possessions to its opponents. On the other hand, the Heat had the 22nd-best offensive rating in the league, scoring 106.8 points per 100 possessions. Spoelstra's boys were scoring 103.4 points per contest (23-rd best) while surrendering 102.9 points per game (4th-best).
The Heat had a 41-40-6 record ATS last season (16-23-4 at home; 25-17-2 on the road), including the playoffs, and the under was 46-39-2 in those games. Miami was 18-20-3 ATS as a favorite, and 23-19-3 as an underdog, while the Heat was 14-14-2 ATS versus the Western Conference rivals, and 8-5-3 ATS in the division.
The Heat didn't make any notable changes this summer, and they also didn't have any picks in the 2018 NBA Draft. Reportedly, Pat Riley is interested in acquiring Jimmy Butler who's also interested in moving to Florida, but this potential trade will have to include the third side as Miami doesn't have enough salary-cap space. The Timberwolves want to get guard Josh Richardson in exchange, but the situation is still unclear.
If they fail to get Jimmy Butler, the Heat will continue to rely on Goran Dragic and Josh Richardson. Likewise, Dion Waiters is still recovering from an ankle surgery, and the prolific shooting guard should miss the start of the season after playing in just 30 games last year. Hassan
Whiteside was clearly unhappy with his role last season, but the powerful big man will continue to contribute as a starting center.
Miami is at +155 odds to win the Southeast Division, but with a current roster, the Heat should finish behind the Wizards. However, Miami should clinch the playoff berth at -450 odds, while anything more would be a big surprise. The odds are +2500 on winning the conference and +7000 on winning the championship, but I think Miami doesn't have enough quality for the greatest achievements even with Jimmy Butler in the team. Spoelstra will need to continue with a hard work with his team to even replicate the last season's result.
Regular Season Total Wins: Over 42.5 at -130
The Charlotte Hornets continued with disappointing performances, finishing last season in the 10th spot in the Eastern Conference to miss the postseason for the second year in a row. The Hornets ended third in the Central Division with a 36-46 record, so Steve Clifford had to pay the price and leave the Hornets' bench after five years and two playoff appearances. Clifford's successor will be James Borrego who spent the last three years as Gregg Popovich's assistant in San Antonio, and the Hornets believe he could bring some fresh and new things to Charlotte.
If you look at the numbers, the Hornets were not so bad recording the 13th-best offensive rating (109.4) and the 16th-best defensive rating in the league (109.1) while scoring 108.2 points per game (10th in the league) and allowing 108.0 points per game (16th in the league). The Hornets shot 36.9% from beyond the arc (8th in the league), but just 45.0% from the field which was the 7th-worst record in the NBA. However, Charlotte had a 1-5 record in games decided by three points or fewer, which tells a lot about their game.
The Hornets were 34-44-4 ATS (18-23 at home; 16-21-4 on the road), so they upset many bettors, for sure, while the over was 41-40-1 in Hornets' games. They were 24-19 ATS when listed as favorites, but only 10-24-4 ATS when listed as underdogs. The Hornets were 12-17-1 ATS versus the Western Conference teams (over was 12-18), and 10-5-1 ATS against their division rivals.
This summer, the Hornets decided to split ways with Dwight Howard who reportedly wasn't welcome in the locker-room anymore. Charlotte acquired Bismack Biyombo to replace Howard, while the veteran PG Tony Parker joined the team from the Spurs. Kemba Walker will continue to lead the Hornets, and the two-time All-Star averaged 22.1 points and 5.6 assists last season, but the Hornets' fans demand more from the 2011 NBA Draft 9th overall pick.
The Hornets are +125 underdogs to reach the playoffs this season, while they are -175 favorites to miss the post-season. Charlotte should battle for the eighth spot in the east, but I don't think they will manage to win the race against the Detroit Pistons. Still, I'm backing them to win one game more than last year and surpass the 36-win chalk. The Hornets are +7000 underdogs to win the conference, and huge +25000 guppies to win the championship. The price on the Hornets to win the Central Division is set at +1300, but I think they don't stand a chance against the Wizards.
Regular Season Total Wins: Over 36.5 at +100
For the sixth year in a row, the Orlando Magic missed the postseason as they finished 14th in the Eastern Conference and 4th in the Southeast Division with a 25-57 record, four wins less than in the 2016-17 season. Frank Vogel had to leave the Magic's helm after just a couple of seasons, while Steve Clifford will be the new Head Coach after getting fired in Charlotte.
The previous season was awful for the Magic in so many ways, as the team had the 11th-fastest pace in the league (98.1) but their offensive rating was the 6th-worst in the NBA (105.2), while the Magic was averaging only 103.4 points per game. Orlando was shooting 45.2% from the field (20th in the league) and just 35.1% from downtown (28th in the league) on 29.3 3-point attempts per game (14th in the league).
And, these are just numbers, as the Orlando Magic missed a true leader on the court, someone who can guide them through tough moments. Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, and Nikola Vucevic combined for 51.9 points per game, but neither of these three guys is a superstar who can lead this franchise. Likewise, the Magic desperately need a starting PG, as D.J. Augustin doesn't look up to the task.
Last year, the Magic were 37-43-2 ATS (17-24 at home; 20-19-2 on the road), and the over was 34-48 in those games. They were 5-10 ATS on rare nights when listed as favorites, and 32-33-2 as underdogs, so the bettors could find value in the Magic's games last season. Orlando was 15-14-1 ATS against the teams from the west coast, whilst 20 of those 30 games were finished under. Against their division rivals, the Orlando Magic had a 6-10 record ATS.
This summer, the Magic drafted Mohamed Bamba with the 6th overall pick, and the 20-year old seven-footer should be a bright future, but he should also start contributing from his rookie season. In his freshman year at Texas, Bamba averaged 12.9 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 3.7 blocks in 30.2 minutes per game.
All in all, the Orlando Magic doesn't look like a team capable of reaching the playoffs at +600 odds. The Magic are +2200 underdogs to top the Southeast Division, and +8000 underdogs to reach the NBA Finals, while +30000 odds are set on Magic to win the NBA Championship this season, and only Atlanta and Sacramento are bigger minnows than Orlando. If they stay healthy, the Magic should be somewhere around a 30-win mark, but they could easily tank in this term.
Regular Season Total Wins: Under 31.5 at -130
Last year, the Atlanta Hawks missed the postseason after ten consecutive playoff appearances, finishing at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with a 24-58 record. It was a huge disappointment for the Hawks who ended fifth in the Southeast Division for the first time since 2007. Mike Budenholzer decided to leave the town and join the Milwaukee Bucks, so Lloyd Pierce will be the new head coach for the upcoming 2018-19 season. Likewise, the Hawks decided to trade their best player Dennis Schroder to the Oklahoma City Thunder and start the rebuilding process.
Schroder wanted to join the team that will battle for the championship after averaging 19.4 points and 6.2 assists in his fifth year as a Hawk. In exchange, Atlanta got Carmelo Anthony who was immediately waived and free to join the Rockets. Hereof, at the 2018 NBA Draft, the Hawks selected Luka Doncic with the 3rd overall pick, trading him to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for the 20-year old playmaker Trae Young who should lead the franchise in the upcoming years. In his freshman year at Oklahoma, Young averaged 27.4 points and 8.7 assists per game to lead the country in both points and assists per game.
In the 2017-18 season, the Atlanta Hawks were scoring 103.4 points per game (25th in the league) while conceding 108.8 points per game (23rd). The wing Taurean Prince made a huge improvement in his sophomore season to record 14.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game, while the shooting guard Kent Bazemore averaged 12.9 points per game on 39.4% shooting from beyond the arc.
The Hawks were 40-39-3 ATS (20-21 at home; 20-18-3 on the road), while the over was 37-42-3 in those games. Atlanta was 6-6 ATS as a favorite and 34-33-3 ATS as an out-of-towner, whilst the Hawks were 17-11-2 ATS versus the Western Conference teams and 7-8-1 ATS versus their rivals in the Southeast Division.
In this term, the Atlanta Hawks are +2000 dogs to clinch the playoff berth, while the price on winning the division title is set at +10000. The same +10000 wages are on Atlanta to reach the NBA Finals, while the Hawks are at +30000 to win the championship. I suggest the bettors to avoid betting on the Hawks to cover the spread, especially at the start of the season, as the new head coach will need some time to establish his system, so the Hawks could struggle to surpass the 23-win mark.
Regular Season Total Wins: Under 23.5 at -115