NBA Win Total Odds & Picks: How to Bet Celtics, Nets and More Atlantic Division Teams
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics during Game 2 of the 2022 NBA Finals.
Actual NBA basketball is officially back and while teams are getting ramped up, the window to bet futures as the regular season approaches is shortening. But don’t worry, we’ve been breaking down every team, division and player on the Buckets podcast (you can listen here).
I broke down my betting approach to teams in the Southwest, Southeast, Northwest and Central divisions, and now we’re moving to the Atlantic division, which arguably has the most unpredictable teams in the NBA. Here’s a look at how I am betting (or why I’m not betting) each team in the division.
It takes a lot to get me to bet on the over for a 50-plus number after research shows they tend to go under.
This is the best roster the Sixers have ever had around Joel Embiid. They used to have issues with not having ball-handlers to create offense. Now they have two in Tyrese Maxey and James Harden. They’ve had seasons with not enough shooting; they have more than enough now. They had issues with not enough perimeter defenders; they’re loaded with them now.
Embiid is the MVP runner-up in the last two seasons and wants that award badly. He won’t pull back. He won’t play 70 games, and he’ll opt to play in the games vs. weaker teams and sit the marquee matchups, but that helps their efforts towards the over.
This is a likely top-10 unit on both sides of the ball, with a lower figure than the Celtics.
Key Trend: The Sixers won 1.6 more games than they should have based on Pythagorean expectations last year. (Point differential as a win percentage.) Teams with a +1.6 differential or more of overperformance that didn’t have a 75th percentile close-game record (the Sixers were 6-6) are 21-10 (67.7%) to the over in the past 10 seasons.
Bottom Line:My actual best bet here is Sixers to win the Atlantic Division at +300 on DraftKings. That’s the best ROI bet on them because they, but I feel comfortable with an over bet here as well. Some books have it at 50.5 if you don't mind the juice.
For more on the 76ers, and all the dangers that come with trusting a Doc Rivers-James Harden-Joel Embiid team, read the full write-up here.
I got this at 55.5 and then bet again at 54.5 after the Udoka scandal broke.
The Celtics got Malcolm Brogdon, who I think is very good, and jumped to become title favorites early in the summer. Preseason title favorites have gone under in seven of the last 10 seasons. The Celtics were eventually bumped out of that favorite spot, but the trend I still think has contextual value.
They’re having the preseason from hell. They lost their coach the week before training camp and every indication is that Udoka will never coach the Celtics (and potentially not in the NBA) again. Robert Williams had knee surgery, and then after surgery, his recovery timeline was backed up to 8-12 weeks. This is all after they lost Danilo Gallinari and traded most of their depth for Brogdon (who has a long and extensive injury history).
Key Trend: There’s every supporting trend to take the under on this team, even before all the offseason stuff. Teams with a win total over 50 tend to go under, and teams with a win total over 54.5 tend to go under even more often. Teams that were top-10 in both offensive and defensive ranking went 17-12 (59%) the following season to the under.
Bottom line: Ultimately, this is a play on the number and I'm taking the under on Boston. This team is still very good and has a reason to band together with a foxhole mentality. We just have too much history that these high numbers wind up being too high a bar to clear.
For more on the Celtics, including how their internal turmoil may actually create value on the over, read the full write-up here.
The number is just soft. Does this number basically expect less than two wins of improvement from adding Jalen Brunson and losing really only Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel?
This number also underplays the internal improvement chances for this team. I’m an Obi Toppin believer. Even if he’s only good vs. bench units, those minutes can mitigate problems with the starting unit.
I don’t want to bet it, because I don’t want to tie up money on a Tom Thibodeau team (7-3 to the under in his career) to go over. But this is a very low expectation for a team with talent.
Key Trend: Teams between 30 and 40 but sub-.500 have a higher tendency to go over in the last 10 seasons. Teams with poor offenses also tend to improve year over year, at least in terms of win total. Teams with a bottom-10 offense and a win total between 30 and 40 have gone 14-9 to the over in the past 10 seasons.
Bottom Line: This feels like the market is over-anticipating the Knicks to not be as good as the hype, which ironically puts value on the over. I also said this exact same thing last season — the exact same thing — and they went under. So I’m staying away, but the over has value.
For more on why the Knicks could potentially be a surprise team if things fall right, read the full write-up here.
Do not trust this team. They do not deserve your money, either way. It feels like a very galaxy-brain move to buy low on this team, supposedly, but now the number is all the way above 50 — Bet365 has a 51.5 line available.
If you bought the Nets over during the Durant trade saga, congratulations, you have great closing line value. I don’t know if it was a good bet because you bet on an NBA team not caving to a star player for the first time since the mid-2000s, but you’re likely cashing. Now, though? It’s too high.
Key Trend: The Nets are across the key 50-win mark in the market. Teams with a win total of 50 or more are 31-16-1 to the under the last 10 years (64.5%). This number jumping back to 51 wins after Kevin Durant retracted his trade demand, which notably was linked to firing the coach and general manager, is a little absurd.
Bottom Line: Ultimately it doesn’t matter the number. You can’t bet against a team with this much talent, you can’t trust a team built around Kyrie Irving, and you can’t trust a team coached by Steve Nash. KD could reverse his trade demand back into effect at any point. Just stay away.
For a more detailed look at why the Nets are so radioactive, read the full write-up here.
I lean over here, but it’s an absolute stay away for me. Just don’t bother. This team is my kryptonite in every direction.
But if you want to bet the over, go ahead, they’ve only hit the over in nine of the past 11 seasons — 10 if you count the COVID-shortened 2019-20 season. They went under in the season they spent in Tampa, and their pets’ heads fell off. That’s it.
Key Trend: Teams with a top-10 defense and a win total the following season below 50 have gone 22-14 (61%) to the over in the last 10 seasons.
Bottom Line: The roster shouldn’t be this good, and Nick Nurse’s brilliance is built into the number. It’s over or nothing. For me, it’s nothing, but DraftKings has the lowest number 45.5.
For more on why this team is so confusing to analyze entering this season, read the full write-up here.