2023 NBA Atlantic Division Sports Betting Preview
It is almost that time my fellow basketball fans. You see we are at that point in the year where we are getting some preseason basketball and gearing up for another season. Much like the king of sports, the NFL, the NBA is trying to dominate headlines all year long with offseason drama which this division is full of. Let's take a look at the Atlantic Division for the 2023 NBA season. These are my thoughts on the season, but not official plays unless stated - if you want those, you can buy the NBA package and get 30 days of plays plus all futures.
Boston Celtics, 57-25 last year, 1st in division
When you have a dominant roster that gets deep into the playoffs, what do you do? If you're an average franchise, you probably stand pat. The Celtics are not the average franchise and they took some interesting approaches this offseason. Gone is Marcus Smart, their glue and defensive guy. How much his absence impacts team chemistry is left to be seen, but he eventually was replaced with Jrue Holiday. Holiday is consistently regarded as one of the best on-ball guard defenders in basketball. He doesn't need to score a ton, and is fine being a playmaker for the team. Perhaps a bigger addition is Kristaps Porzingis. Porzingis is an offensive threat and can be a rim protector, although that isn't his first priority. This is easily the most talent he has ever had on his team and I would think he will have more open looks than he ever had before. How many games will they get out of him? He's never played in every game, but he was around for 65 last season. Still, the conversation probably starts and ends with how far Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown can take the Celtics. Tatum is going to be in the MVP conversation and has stretches where he is easily one of the top five players in the league. Brown also has stretches where he can be a dominant scorer, but his inconsistencies need to be addressed, especially now with another capable scorer in Porzingis. The truth is, the East probably goes between Boston and Milwaukee provided the teams stay healthy. 55.5 wins is a solid number for them. Offensively they will improve but without Robert Williams (who was sent away in the Holiday trade) Boston might struggle. This is also a team with deep runs for two straight years and a coach who said he now realizes seeding isn't very important for the playoffs. I'd lean toward the under, but winning 60 games is also something this team is certainly capable of if they want to.
Philadelphia 76ers, 54-28, 2nd
In full disclosure, it is rather difficult to judge the 76ers this season. They have a point guard that might show up, might not. Might get traded, might not. The James Harden story is one that can't be ignored. If he remains on the team, does he try at all? If he leaves, what is the return for the 76ers. I'll tell you right now, I'm not playing anything on them and think you shouldn't either. There is too much uncertainty when you have to tie up money for multiple months. Joel Embiid will not win the MVP again this year. It won't happen, don't bet it. (Though, we did cash him as we bet him to win MVP before the season started last year, so thanks for that, Joel.) But, what can we expect from them? Well, the team is fairly deep. Tyrese Maxey is a really talented guard and can score with the best of them. Expect him to shine with or without Harden on the team. Embiid will do the same thing he's done for a while - score, be a solid defender, miss some games, and lead them to somewhere around 50 wins.
New York Knicks, 47-35, 3rd
I owe Jalen Brunson an apology. He was arguably the best addition to a team last season and I thought he was going to be a small upgrade. He proved that he was capable of carrying a team and it helped make Julius Randle a better player as well. Randle never was supposed to be a #1 option on a team, and Brunson now allows for Randle and him to split that responsibility. They really haven't done anything to upgrade the team this offseason though. It is hard to see them getting as many wins as last season, but with their head coach, they are expected to play hard each game and win every one of them... that's why you'll see Brunson on the court when the Knicks are down 30 with seven minutes to go. I do still consider the Knicks one of the top six teams in the East, but I'd put them close to the bottom of that ranking.
Brooklyn Nets, 45-37, 4th
Is this going to be the Ben Simmons revenge tour we've been expecting for years? Probably not, but could he be back and better than ever? Sure. Anything is possible. I've watched videos of him shooting and practicing, but let me tell you shooting in an empty gym is not the same as being guarded and having thousands watch you do it. Still, the rest of this team is actually pretty talented. They have no reason to tank as it seems like they won't have a good pick for a decade, so I don't expect them to trade players away unless they are really bad and can get picks in return. Spencer Dinwiddie is a serviceable secondary point-guard playing in the shooting guard role, but Cam Thomas can be a microwave for them off the bench if needed. Mikal Bridges is going to play 82 games and defend the best opposing player admirably. Simmons should be able to stop secondary options as well if he plays. Bridges also took on a greater scoring role when he came to the Nets. Cameron Johnson is decent enough, but seems like a small option for the power forward position. Still, he can also space the floor and make things difficult on opposing defenses. Nic Claxton works the glass and plays solid defense. I'd be surprised if the Nets really struggle this year and will put a unit on the Nets over 37.5 officially.
Toronto Raptors, 41-41, 5th
This is probably my least favorite team to talk about. When I think they will be good, they suck. When I think they will suck, they make the playoffs. They moved on from Nick Nurse and Fred Vanvleet this season and you have to wonder what is going to happen without those two staples of this franchise. Pascal Siakam has All-Star capabilities but is fairly inconsistent himself. Scottie Barnes seemed to take a step back last season and I'm interested to see if they use him as a point-forward this season. Jakob Poeltl was an interesting addition last season, but he has shown flashes of being a solid starter in the league. Expect the plug to be pulled on this team quickly if they struggle out of the gate. They have tradeable assets but they aren't working well together. 36.5 wins is a bit low, but with them possibly being willing to throw everyone away, I'll back off.
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