The Golden State Warriors are the favorites at online sports betting sites to win the NBA Title in 2019 and their odds are still improving. However, the Toronto Raptors are standing on top of the Eastern conference, trying to close the gap.
The Raptors are 10-1 and any questions regarding how well Kawhi Leonard would assimilate to Canadian life have been answered. So far, the Raptors have only dropped one game. The Milwaukee Bucks got the better of Toronto in the final days of October, but the Raptors bounced back and destroyed the 76ers 129-112 the following evening. So far this season, the Raptors have the No. 6 total offense, averaging just a smidge over 117 points per game, paired with the No. 7 defense, allowing just 108. If there were any doubts about whether or not the Toronto Raptors would come back in 2018-19 and shoot for the No.1 playoff seed, they are quickly being eliminated.
The Boston Celtics are 6-4 after the first ten games of the season. It isn’t actually middling, since they are currently 4th in the East, but it feels mediocre. With the return of Gordon Hayward and Kyrie healthy, they should be more dominant. That said, they are built better than some other teams around them for a deep playoff run, even if they don’t clinch within the top three seeds.
The Cavs have fallen apart without LeBron. Many expected this to happen, but just as many felt like Cleveland was still loaded with talent and wouldn’t just fade away into the night. Currently, they are 23rd in scoring allowed and 25th in scoring offense. About the only thing they are doing well is defensive rebounding (5th in the league). Tyronn Lue is gone and the Cavs brass signed a deal with Larry Drew, making him more than just the interim coach. Drew will finish out the season with Cleveland. But can he turn the team around? Love will be out for a couple of months and J.R. wants out of Cleveland…Sorry, Larry. You have a tough task ahead.
Bucks Have Horns
The Milwaukee Bucks have been smashing opponents with their No. 2 offense in the league (right now). They also boast the No. 5 overall defense. The Bucks are only nine games in (at time of writing) and the “Greek Freak” already has two triple-doubles. If the Bucks stay healthy, they will contend for the Eastern Conference.
One of the biggest concerns in the offseason was the fact that the Portland Trail Blazers didn’t have much of an offseason. This was coming after a fantastic regular season and then getting embarrassingly ousted by the Pelicans in the first round of the playoffs. So, there was speculation regarding the Blazers getting lost in the slew of Western Conference talent. No more. Lillard and Co. are 6th in the league in scoring and No. 2 in offensive rebounding. They are still one of the league’s elite Ds as well coming in at No. 7 overall. The latest projections have Portland a lock for the playoffs once more, at 97.6%, second only to Golden State.
The Lakers are starting to get their legs under them a little bit. But at 4-6 they are nowhere near on track to hit 50 wins, like many projected before the season began. Los Angeles is fantastic at putting the ball through the hole…they’re No. 3 in the league. The problem is they don’t play defense. You can’t expect to have a winning season with a defense that is ranked No. 27 out of 30. That said, the Lakers are still projected to make the playoffs. It’s still too early to tell, but faith in LeBron is high.
The Houston Rockets may be the biggest surprise of the season, but not a pleasant one. The Rockets were unstoppable last season, until injuries brought them to their knees in the playoffs. Through the offseason, many of us questioned why the Rockets organization would dismantle something that had so much chemistry…and now Daryl Morey, you see the results of tinkering with a good thing. It would be easy to say that wherever Mellow goes, losing follows. But, this has nothing to do with Carmelo Anthony and everything to do with Morey screwing with team dynamics that were working fantastically. That said, Houston is still likely to make the playoffs.