25 October 2013

Roundtable: NBA Win Totals - Eastern Conference

By Pauly
Worcester, MA

Welcome back to another roundtable discussion with some of our basketball experts. Here is a quick chat about NBA win totals for the Eastern Conference. The Miami Heat are the odds-on-favorite to win a third straight NBA title, but D-Rose is finally back from an injury and the Indiana Pacers smell blood in the water. Then there's both NYC teams -- the Knicks and Nets -- looking to inflict some damage before either team implodes. But for totals bettors, more important questions loom, like how bad with the Sixers and Magic be this season?

We're using the win totals that the LVH sportsbook in Vegas originally released at the start of October...

Miami Heat — 60
2012-13 Record: 66-16
Championship Odds: 2-1

Pauly: UNDER - A major injury to one of the Big 3 is the only thing that can derail another title for the Heat. As long as LeBron James is not linked to this Biogenesis steroid scandal, the Heat are going to threepeat. The Heat went on a redonkulous 29-game winning streak last year, but replicating that feat seems improbable. Expect Coach Sploestra to rest his big guns from time to time, which means you'll see a lot more of the Heat's B-Team during the regular season.

Derek: UNDER - Miami will most likely three-peat but the East is too loaded with talent for the Heat to win 60+ games. Plus Dwayne Wade has gotten old fast due to injuries. They signed Greg Oden in the offseason. If he’s healthy... watch out because that means the Heat took care of their only weakness, which is not enough quality big men on the roster.

Shamus: UNDER - Gonna go below 60 as well, thinking mostly of Wade's uncertain health and general championship fatigue.

Chicago Bulls — 56.5
2012-13 Record: 45-37
Championship Odds: 6-1

Pauly: UNDER - D-Rose actually played in a preseason game! Bulls fans will quickly forgive any of D-Rose's transgressions (taking his sweet time to rehab a knee injury) if he can lead the Bulls to a berth in the NBA Finals. The Bulls won 47 games without Rose. Is one man worth 12 more wins? Maybe. But the Bulls will be battling a hard-nosed Indiana Pacers squad for the division crown. I envision a tumultuous initial return for D-Rose before he finally finds his groove mid-season. The Bulls will finish a close second in the Central and slip to a #4 seed.

Derek: UNDER - Rose is back so I expect the Bulls to be the Heat’s biggest competition in the East. Watch out for this team come playoff time. This team is built to knock off the Heat.

Shamus: OVER - It's a solid line, with the Rose factor inspiring a look back to 2011-12 when the Bulls were 50-16 and the No. 1 seed in the East (projects to 62 wins over full sked). With Rose and Oden both representing big unknowns, wouldn’t want to bet this one.

Indiana Pacers — 53.5
2012-13 Record: 49-32
Championship Odds: 15-1

Pauly: OVER - The Pacers are underrated once again. George Paul is the next superstar and ready to break out with a monster season. The Pacers have one of the toughest frontlines in the league with Roy Hibbert, David West, and Danny Granger. The "George" backcourt of George Paul and George Hill will give their opponents a lot of headaches. With Lance Stephenson coming into his own, he has a shot at Sixth Man of the Year. The Pacers have a #2 seed within their grasp and want another crack at Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Derek: OVER - The Pacers are for real. They’re easily the third best team in the East. Paul George and Roy Hibbert are beasts but do they have enough to knock off Chicago or Miami?

Shamus: OVER - A mentally tough squad, with a great leader in Hibbert and talent to spare.

Brooklyn Nets — 52.5
2012-13 Record:  49-33
Championship Odds: 12-1

Pauly: UNDER - Too much hype for the Hipster Nets. Too many alpha males in the locker room, only one ball, and a new head coach who has never coached before. Never. Jason Kidd retired from the Knicks and got tapped by the Russian Mob to coach the Nets. Ah, the kiss of death. The Nets added a pair of ancient Celtics -- Kevin "Honey Nut Cheerios" Garnett and Paul Pierce -- to an already volatile team that imploded late last year. Joe Johnson is a top notch shooter but I'm starting to believe those megalomaniac rumors about Deron Williams. If D-Will is tough to get along with, how will someone like KG fit into the mix? Too much bad chemistry going on in Brooklyn and Jason Kidd is going to blow himself up.

Derek: UNDER - Jason Kidd is the new head coach and Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are now on the team. The Nets are much improved for sure and should be interesting to watch but KG and Pierce have seen their better days.

Shamus: UNDER - Saw Paul Pierce play a lot of wild pot-limit Omaha hands this summer at the WSOP. Every hand he played was the equivalent of having the ball with his back to the hoop about thirty feet away and only seconds left on the shot clock. Yet he somehow made it to Day 2 of the event, just like the Nets will somehow win some games they probably shouldn't, but not enough to go over here.

New York Knicks — 49.5
2012-13 Record: 54-28
Championship Odds: 25-1

Pauly: OVER - The Knicks will be dishing and swishing their way to a division title and a #3 seed, as long as JR Smith stays away from the nose candy. The Knicks have enough firepower to win 50+ games with a solid starting five (Ray Felton, Pablo Prigioni, Iman Shumpert, Melo and Tyson Chandler) and a deep bench (JR Smith, Amare Stoudemire, Andrea Bargnani, Metta World Peace, and Kenyon Martin). But that's the problem... too many big dogs on one team and not enough balls to go around. Melo and Amare don't mesh. JR Smith is JR Smith but his Sixth Man award might go to his head. Plus, you have to get Andrea Bargnani some touches as well. I'm not envious of head coach Mike Woodson. He has to deal with the man-child James Dolan and the cancerous Isiah Thomas lurking in the shadows, who is eagerly waiting to swoop back in as head coach. Despite the circus-like atmosphere, it'll be the Brooklyn Nets who will implode and the Knicks who remain the toast of the town.

Derek: OVER - If Melo stays healthy, this team will win 50+ games in their sleep. The real questions are how many games will Amare play and how far can they go in the playoffs with a deep Eastern conference to contend with?

Shamus: UNDER - Feel like the Knicks won a few more last year than they should have, and kind of sense some of that same "why aren't we winning?" vibe such as the Lakers experienced last year creeping in and affecting things here in 2013-14.

Washington Wizards — 42
2012-13 Record: 29-53
Championship Odds: 100-1

Pauly: UNDER - The Wiz are still the Wiz. They won't crack 40 wins. Sure, John Wall is supposedly healthy but he has no one to help shoulder the load. Sure he had Nene and Okafor, but they don't exactly instill fear into the minds of opponents. Maybe Bradley Beal will step it up? Keep an eye on Beal. By the end of the season, Wall-Beal can be one of the best backcourts in the Eastern Conference. Don't laugh. I'm serious. Unfortunately, the Wizs' bench is thin and Nene is perpetually injured.

Derek: UNDER - John Wall is a stud but this team blows. They're a few years away from competing.

Shamus: UNDER - Cheese Wiz. Actually they should be kind of an exciting team to watch, but I'm not going as high as above .500 for them yet.

Detroit Pistons — 41
2012-13 Record: 29-53
Championship Odds: 100-1

Pauly: UNDER - The Pistons will play better than last year, yet fall short of 40 wins. Brandon Jennings is a smooth shooter, but he'll have to share the ball with Josh Smith and Chauncey Billups. The big men -- Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe -- are going to have a long season facing the monstrous combos of Roy Hibbert/David West and Joakim Noah/Luol Deng. But the Pistons have Josh "JORTS" Harrellson coming off the bench. That's got to count for something, right?

Derek: OVER - I like the Brandon Jennings-Josh Smith additions combined with Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe so I expect them to just barely squeak past the .500 mark.

Shamus: UNDER - I remember when Dean Smith broke the all-time NCAA wins record beating Chauncey Billups's Colorado team (and UNC keeping Billups under wraps to do so). Which was like, last century. And now he's back on the cover of the Pistons yearbook.

Cleveland Cavaliers — 40.5
2012-13 Record: 24-58
Championship Odds: 100-1

Pauly: OVER - Mike Brown is back in Cleveland after he got ran out of town in the wake of the LeBron James free agent debacle, and then got sucked into the Lakers psycho drama last year. Brown is a beaten man seeking redemption. He's now tasked with revitalizing the Cavs. Kyrie Irving is fun to watch and Anderson Varejao has the coolest afro in the game since the halcyon days of the ABA, but even if newly added Andrew Bynum gives an All-Star caliber performance, the Cavs are not strong enough to be in the same league as the top-tiered teams like Miami, Chicago, and Indiana. Alas, because the Eastern Conference is so weak, Mike Brown can sneak the Cavs into the playoffs  with a #7 or #8 seed.

Derek: OVER - Kyrie Irving is one of the best point guards in the league. If new addition Andrew Bynum can return to his old form, this team will surprise the league this year.

Shamus: UNDER - I'm unduly affected here by having watched in person the last regular season game of 2012-13 between the Bobcats and the Cavs, a desperate, miserable affair won by Charlotte and after which both coaches were promptly fired. Irving's a star, Brown will help, and many think the Cavs are a team to watch this year, but I'll say plus-17 games is too big of a leap up.

Atlanta Hawks — 40
2012-13 Record: 44-38
Championship Odds: 200-1

Pauly: UNDER - The Hawks. Such a sad team and another under-appreciated franchise in a fair-weather city that could care less about its NBA team. When that apathy trickles down to the locker room, the team has no incentive to win. Al Horford and Paul Millsap are a nice 1-2 punch, but the Hawks are just cashing paychecks, especially during a transition year. Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose even wondered if the Hawks might be tanking this year. If that's really the mindset in Atlanta, then you want to avoid backing this team.

Derek: UNDER - The Hawks swung and missed on every potential offseason move. They’re in for a long season.

Shamus: OVER - Will be middle-of-the-pack again, mostly beating the bad teams, mostly losing to the good ones, and barely hitting this number to miss the playoffs.

Toronto Raptors — 36.5
2012-13 Record: 34-48
Championship Odds: 200-1

Pauly: UNDER - How long until Canada loses its last NBA franchise? The Raptors have a lot of young players who showed potential, yet never quite got there (e.g. Quentin Richardson, Landry Fields, Tyler Hansbrough, and D.J. Augustin). Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan are solid players, but hoops is a second-class citizen in a hockey-crazy city like Toronto. Heck, the Raptors are probably the city's fourth favorite team behind the Leafs, Argonauts, and the Blue Jays. It's hard to flourish when you're a young player in a not-so-awesome environment. The Raptors will put up a good fight for the first three quarters, but roll over and play dead in the 4Q. It'll be another long season north of the border.

Derek: UNDER - Rudy Gay will wish Memphis never traded him to Canada.

Shamus: OVER - I dunno... I think they actually have enough in a weak conference to sneak into the playoffs.

Milwaukee Bucks — 28.5
2012-13 Record: 38-44
Championship Odds: 1000-1

Pauly: OVER - I loved last season's backcourt of Ellis and Jennings, but both are long gone. The Bucks were overhauled. Again. The Bucks acquired free agents O.J. Mayo and Zaza Pachulia, and also traded for Brandon Knight, Caron Butler and Luke Ridnour. Oh, and I almost forgot about their top draft pick -- 18-year old Giannis Antetokounmpo. Another team stuck in rebuilding year. Don't expect more wins than last season, but they'll be lucky to win 30 games or so.

Derek: UNDER - The Bucks could be in for a long season after they completely over-hauled their team in the offseason.

Shamus: UNDER - Too much reconstruction happening here, although the Bucks will compete more often than not.

Boston Celtics — 27.5
2012-13 Record: 41-40
Championship Odds: 300-1

Pauly: OVER - "Larry Bird is not walking through that door!" Okay, so its Brad Stevens walking through the historic door while the Celtics are in the middle of their CTRL-ALT DELETE season. They'll be bad but Stevens will find a way to squeeze out at least 30 wins when injured Rajon Rondo finally returns to the line up (until then expect the platoon of Jordan Crawford and Avery Bradley). Jeff Green is a potential All-Star and it'll be up to him to hold down the fort with rookie Kelly Olynyk, Jared Sullinger, Gerald Wallace, and Kris Humphries soaking up playing time.

Derek: OVER - Only if Rondo is healthy. If not, new coach Brad Stevens is in for a long season.

Shamus: UNDER - If healthy, Rondo will have plenty of triple-doubles, but team will come up short most games. Curious to see how Stevens does at the helm.

Charlotte Bobcats — 27.5
2012-13 Record: 21-61
Championship Odds: 1000-1

Pauly: UNDER - The "Boob-cats" are haunted by the curse of Michael Jordan. I feel bad because North Carolina has a deep and rich tradition in basketball, but it is sad to see their pro team constantly suck eggs. Charlotte is lucky that the Sixers and Magic are really atrocious this season, otherwise they'd be the doormat of the Eastern Conference.

Derek: UNDER - This franchise is a joke.

Shamus: UNDER - I'm a Bobcat "fan" (scare quotes intended) and even I had to look up the name of our new head coach (Steve Clifford). Not much reason for excitement looking ahead to the Bobcats' last meow -- the name changes to Hornets in '14. Heck, Al Jefferson already has gone down with an injury in the preseason. Just can't go over here. But don't worry... it's all part of a long-term "plan" (again, scare quotes intended).

Orlando Magic — 24.5
2012-13 Record: 20-62
Championship Odds: 1000-1

Pauly: UNDER - Ah, the Orlando Tragic might be the worst team in the NBA. Sadly, another young team with third-rate veterans that have no future at all. At least they drafted Victor Oladipo #2 overall, so it can't be all that bad in the land of Disney, right?

Derek: OVER - Barely. Victor Oladipo and Moe Harkless to the rescue!

Shamus: UNDER - Like with the Bobcats, the question is how are they going to score?

Philly 76ers — 16.5
2012-13 Record: 34-48
Championship Odds: 5000-1

Pauly: OVER - The Sixers drafted Michael Carter-Williams. Management hopes MCM and former #2 overall pick Evan Turner can lead this young and rudderless team out of the basement of the Atlantic Division. Let's fade the public here and say the lowly Sixers surprise the East with a 22-win season!

Derek: OVER - The Sixers are in "rebuild mode" after the Bynum trade killed them. They better hope Nerlens Noel and Michael Carter-Williams turn into superstars fast.

Shamus: OVER - Will be terribad, no doubt, but I can't see them diving that low. Even the Bobcats won 21 last year.

Here is our roundtable on the NBA Win Totals for the Western Conference.

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