The season is barely in full-swing; we are not even a quarter of the way in and the odds on BetDSI, and other sportsbooks favor the Raptors to win the Eastern Conference. Of course, the Warriors top the list in the West, with the Rockets and the Lakers both as complete and total sucker-bets at 2nd and 3rd on the odds boards, respectively. Essentially, out East, the Bucks and the Raptors are in a much better position than you might think.
The way the season is shaping up isn’t quite what many expected. Let’s have a look.
With LeBron James headed out West, and the rise of both the Celtics, the Raptors and the 76ers, it looked like the power-gap was starting to tighten up a bit from East to West. Even if you are an Eastern Conference fan, you have to be honest with yourself and admit that, overall, the West has been the far more potent Conference for the last five years. It looked as if that was starting to change. But, maybe not so much.
Why do we say this? Because the Toronto Raptors and the Milwaukee Bucks are both already projected as a 100% playoff berth. What is the significance of this, you might ask? Well, this implies that outside of these two teams and the Celtics and the Sixers, the East is so weak that no one can challenge enough to even take a hair off the probability of a playoff entrance for the Raptors and the Bucks.
Let’s look at it from another angle: the Warriors are rated as the best team in the NBA, and they currently have a 99.9% chance of making the playoffs. And the probabilities between Western Conference teams are tighter, because each of them has a better shot of taking wins of one another.
Milwaukee is now projected to win 62 games. They opened the season in Las Vegas with OVER/UNDER odds of 46.5 wins. Now, adjusted projections point towards a 60-win season. It is still way too early to know if they can win 60. After all, they are 10-3 at the time of writing this. They did take a wins off of the mighty-mighty GS Warriors and a tough Denver Nuggets squad as well. So, it is looking like they will continue to dominate in the Eastern Conference.
The Bucks boast the No. 2 offense in the league right now. And even the Denver Nuggets No. 3 defense wasn’t enough to slow them down. According to TeamRankings algorithms, the Bucks have a 57% chance to enter the postseason as the number-one seed and have a whopping 25.8% chance of winning it all.
The Toronto Raptors are doing just fine sans DeMar DeRozan. The addition of Kawhi Leonard has been a boon and the Raptors are on track for a 59-win campaign. They were projected to win around 54 during the preseason, so this isn’t quite as big of a jump as the Bucks season wins projections. Still, it is roughly five games better. As of November 12th, the Raptors are ranked No. 3 in scoring and No. 9 in defense.
The Raptors are projected with a 33% chance of taking the number-one seed and just 13.7% chance of becoming the NBA Champs.
There is still a huge power gap between the two conferences. Only the top few teams in the East are really competitive with the bulk of the teams out West. This leaves the playoffs door wide open for the Bucks, the Raptors, the Celtics and the Sixers. That said, Milwaukee looks legit this season. It isn’t just because the Eastern Conference is relatively weak. They might just have a chance at playing for the title.