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NBA Atlantic Division betting preview: Can anyone catch the Celtics?

Jesse D. Garrabrant / National Basketball Association / Getty

The leaves are changing color. The weather is turning cold. Forget fall - winter is coming. That means one thing: Basketball is approaching.

Training camps open throughout the NBA this week, and Opening Night is just weeks away on Oct. 24. Before then, we'll break down every division, award, and market to get you ready for the season.

While divisions are meaningless in the NBA, this is simply the most logical way to break down every team and their respective odds in multiple markets. Let's start with the Atlantic Division in the Eastern Conference.

Futures odds

Team Division Conference  Championship
Celtics -240 +175 +375
Sixers +350 +800 +1600
Knicks +800 +1700 +5000
Nets +2500 +3000 +6600
Raptors +3000 +5000 +10000

Celtics win total and odds to make playoffs

Win total Odds to make/miss playoffs Implied prob. to make playoffs
55.5 -6000/+1800 98%

Projected starting lineup:

  • Derrick White
  • Jrue Holiday
  • Jayson Tatum
  • Jaylen Brown
  • Kristaps Porzingis

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. It would've been insane for the Celtics to enter the 2023-24 season with the exact same core that came up short of the ultimate goal the last two seasons.

After an appearance in the 2022 NBA Finals, everyone expected the Celtics to make another run to the biggest stage. It didn't exactly pan out that way. While the Celtics had problems off the court, such as Ime Udoka's resignation just before the season, their roster wasn't built to win a championship, as evidenced by a 3-0 deficit in the Eastern Conference finals.

The Celtics shipped off Marcus Smart to the Grizzlies this offseason. Many fans were upset to lose the heart and soul of the team. But with that heart and soul, Boston still flatlined. So what's the harm in switching things up and trying to revive the group?

Porzingis had the best season of his career with the Wizards last year, averaging 23.2 points per game on 50% shooting from the field and 38.5% from three, all career highs.

He brings a different element to Boston as a stretch big man, allowing the Celtics versatility on both ends - as long as he stays healthy, which is a big if given his history.

The Bucks jumped the Celtics as title favorites following their blockbuster trade to acquire Damian Lillard. However, the Celtics bounced back to become co-favorites once they obtained Holiday in exchange for Malcolm Brogdon, Robert Williams, and draft capital.

Holiday's value as a lockdown perimeter defender, shot-creator, and playmaker can't be understated. He ranked 12th in the league in overall RAPTOR, an advanced analytical tool used to measure a player's impact on both ends.

Boston will have to get creative to add depth, but its starting five is the best in the league.

Bet: Celtics to win the Finals +375

Sixers win total and odds to make playoffs

Win total Odds to make/miss playoffs Implied prob. to make playoffs
49.5 -800/+500 89%

Projected starting lineup:

  • Tyrese Maxey
  • James Harden (maybe)
  • Tobias Harris
  • P.J. Tucker
  • Joel Embiid

The Sixers are more of a reality TV show than a basketball team. The drama is endless.

Philadelphia's entire season hinges on the attitude and personal beef of a player way past his prime. Harden remains adamant about being traded and didn't show up to media day Monday. Without him, the Sixers are a playoff team and nothing more. With him, the Sixers are a playoff team and maybe only slightly more.

Philadelphia will hope Maxey makes another jump and Harden returns, but would that be enough for it to contend with the likes of the Celtics and Bucks? Based on the current roster construction, the answer is absolutely not.

The Sixers won 54 games last season, their most since 2001. If Harden reconciles with Daryl Morey, leaves the fat suit at home, and shows up willing to work, this team can win 50-plus games again with the reigning MVP Embiid working in new coach Nick Nurse's system.

Relying on Harden is like relying on a quarter tank of gas for a cross-country road trip - it's bound to end in disaster. I'm not taking any future bets on a team whose second-best player said he'd refuse to work in the same organization as the president of basketball operations.

Bet: Pass

Knicks win total and odds to make playoffs

Win total  Odds to make/miss playoffs Implied prob. to make playoffs
45.5 -380/+285 79%

Projected starting lineup:

  • Jalen Brunson
  • Quentin Grimes
  • RJ Barrett
  • Julius Randle
  • Mitchell Robinson

The Knicks won 47 games last season, their most in over a decade. Brunson's arrival was the biggest contributor to New York's success and now appears to have been a discount. He was the missing piece needed to turn the Knicks from a lottery team to a bona fide playoff team.

New York desperately needed Brunson's leadership, toughness, and shotmaking. He's proved to be a great building block to what fans hope is an eventual championship team.

While Brunson was the go-to guy in the playoffs, Randle had a better regular season, earning his second All-Star selection. Along with Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, Josh Hart, Robinson, Grimes, and Donte DiVincenzo, the Knicks have a solid young nucleus.

There's an obvious ceiling with this team, one it likely shattered through with a second-round appearance last season. Unless Barrett finally emerges as a consistent star, this is a playoff team and not much more.

The Knicks are waiting for the next superstar to become available either via free agency or trade request before they pounce and can truly move into contender status. This is another season of building toward that.

Bet: Pass

Nets win total and odds to make playoffs

Win total  Odds to make/miss playoffs Implied prob. to make playoffs
37.5 +145/-180 40%

Projected starting lineup:

  • Spencer Dinwiddie
  • Mikal Bridges
  • Cam Johnson
  • Dorian Finney-Smith
  • Nic Claxton

Whether they make the playoffs or not, the Nets are winners this season. After all, they no longer have to deal with the headaches Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Harden caused as a disastrous Big Three.

As for the roster this season, it's a project. Bridges could emerge as a superstar, which he showed glimpses of in a small sample size as the primary scorer in Brooklyn last year. Other than him, Dinwiddie, Cam Thomas, Claxton, and others can function as a solid supporting cast.

If the Nets sneak into the playoffs, or even the play-in tournament, it's a successful season. At the minimum, it'll be a fun team with young, potentially budding stars that should be drama-free.

Bet: Pass

Raptors win total and odds to make playoffs

Win total Odds to make/miss playoffs Implied prob. to make playoffs
36.5 +175/-220 36%

Projected starting lineup:

  • Dennis Schroder
  • O.G. Anunoby
  • Scottie Barnes
  • Pascal Siakam
  • Jakob Poeltl

Raptors fans aren't exactly interested in wins or losses right now. Toronto's season, which is sure to be a disappointing one with the current roster, is about deciding one pressing question: Should it extend Siakam or try to trade him?

Siakam has been Toronto's centerpiece since Kawhi Leonard left after winning the NBA Finals in 2019. But he hasn't emerged as the franchise cornerstone many projected he would be.

He can become a free agent following the season if he and the Raptors fail to reach an extension. Siakam has made it clear he wants to stay with Toronto. But do the Raptors want him? Toronto may decide to enter a rebuild with already talented young pieces in place instead of attaching themselves to a limited offensive player for the foreseeable future.

The Raptors were 41-41 last season. They project slightly worse than that with the departure of Fred VanVleet.

Bet: Pass

Sam Oshtry is a sports betting writer at theScore. You can follow him on X, formerly known as Twitter, @soshtry for more betting coverage.

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