Published On: Thu, Jun 11th, 2020

NBA Returns with Heat as Second Tier Eastern Conference Choice

Fashion that the NBA has finally gotten off the dime with a plan to return July 31.  Florida will take center stage as the host state.  Specifically, the ESPN Wide World of Sports Zone at Disneyworld in Orlando will serve as the quarantined venue.  A total of 22-NBA teams are listed on the online betting board.  In sum, The Eastern Conference will feature nine teams.  By contrast, the Western Conference has 13 contenders.  Although Miami was running away with the Southeast Division race oddsmakers and gamblers are not impressed.  Let’s examine the NBA return and where the Heat stand.  

2020 Odds to Win the NBA Finals:  Los Angeles Lakers +250, Milwaukee Bucks +250, Los Angeles Clippers +333, Houston Rockets +1200, Boston Celtics +2000, Toronto Raptors +2400, Denver Nuggets +2500, Miami Heat +2700, Philadelphia 76ers +2700, Utah Jazz +2900, Dallas Mavericks +3600, Brooklyn Nets +6000, All other teams +10000 or greater

Eastern Conference Teams and Current Seeding:  1-Milwaukee Bucks, 2-Toronto Raptors, 3-Boston Celtics, 4-Miami Heat, 5-Indiana Pacers, 6-Philadelphia 76ers, 7-Brooklyn Nets, 8-Orlando Magic, 9-Washington Wizards

Western Conference Teams and Current Seeding:  1-Los Angeles Lakers, 2-Los Angeles Clippers, 3-Denver Nuggets, 4- Utah Jazz, 5-Oklahoma City Thunder, 6-Houston Rockets, 7-Dallas Mavericks, 8-Memphis Grizzlies, 9-Portland Trail Blazers, 10-New Orleans Pelicans, 11-Sacramento Kings, 12-San Antonio Spurs, 13-Phoenix Suns 

NBA Return Overview 

Dates are not yet set for the eight remaining regular season games for each team.  At the conclusion of the regular season, if the ninth-place team is within four games of the eighth-place club, a play-in series will take place.  Subsequently the final eight teams in each conference will be seeded as normal for best of seven playoff series.  July 31 is the “Re-Opening Night” with Game Seven of the NBA Finals scheduled for October 12.  In view of continued COVID-19 concerns no fans will be allowed at the games.  

Milwaukee Tops Eastern Conference Contenders

First atop the top online sportsbook board to win the Eastern Conference are the Milwaukee Bucks.  And its no mystery as to why that is.  At the beginning of the brand is 2019 NBA Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo.  Giannis may be the most dominant and complete player in the Association.  Certainly, he is in the conversation.  The question is if he has enough of a supporting cast to go all the way.  One year ago, Milwaukee was upset by eventual NBA champion Toronto.  By reason of Giannis having to carry too much of the load.  

At the time of the COVID-19 shutdown the Bucks were 53-12. Milwaukee was one of the most complete and balanced teams in the Association.  To show the Bucks ranked first in the NBA for scoring offense and fifth for points.  As for Antetokounmpo he led with 29.6 points and 13.7 rebounds per game.  

Are the Heat Contenders or Pretenders?   

Miami was a solid but not dominant 41-24 at the break.  Miami’s metrics were of a team that was pretty good but hardly great.  To illuminate the Heat ranked 15th for scoring offense and 11th for points allowed.  Cause by playing in the NBA’s worst division did they get a boost.  When the playoffs start there is nowhere to hide.  Correlate the lack of a truly dominant player on the roster.  Winning a championship in the NBA requires such a presence.  Last year the Raptors had Kawhi Leonard.  Miami lacks someone that can take over a game.

Other Top Eastern Conference Contenders  

Account of the loss of Kyrie Irving did many write off the Celtics for this season.  Yet that separation has proven to be a godsend for Boston.  Head coach Brad Stevens has returned to the team-oriented basketball that propelled his career ascent.

Toronto has had surprising success without Leonard.  Namely forward Pascal Siakam has emerged to man the blank marquee.  And Nick Nurse has surfaced as one of the best coaches in the NBA.  

Counter to those teams is a potential sleeper at Philadelphia.  Joel Embiid is one of the top centers in the NBA.  Embiid was having injury issues at the time of the shutdown.  Now he should be fresh and healthy.  His 23.4 points and 11.8 rebounds per game are indicative of a difference maker.

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