Eastern Conference Preview

In this preview of the Eastern Conference I will look at each team’s roster and what key additions they made as well as the key pieces they lost. After losing Jimmy Butler, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to the Western Conference many mediocre teams will likely take a leap this year towards the playoffs. I will also take a look at Westgate SuperBook’s Over/Under win total predictions and give my opinion on that number as well as a quick synopsis of each team.

Boston Celtics

Last Year: 53-29

Westgate Superbook over/unders: 56.5

Key Additions: Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Morris, Aaron Baynes, Shane Larkin

Key Losses – Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynyk, Amir Johnson, Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Jonas Jerebko, Tyler Zeller, 2018 BKN pick

Depth Chart: PG: K. Irving, SG: J. Brown, SF: G. Hayward PF: M. Morris C: Al Horford Bench: J. Tatum, M. Smart, T. Rozier, A. Baynes

This team is only bringing back 5 total players from last years team that won 53 games. Their offense will likely see a small step up as a result of Irving but the defense will probably see a huge step back with the losses of Crowder and Bradley. New teams tend to take a couple months to gel so as a result I expect a rough start to put them UNDER 56.5 wins.

Cleveland Cavaliers 

Westgate Over/Under: 53.5 wins

Last year’s record: 51-31

Key additions – Jose Calderon, Jae Crowder, Jeff Green, Derrick Rose, Isaiah Thomas, Dwayne Wade, BKN 2018 pick

Key Losses – Kyrie Irving, James Jones,

Depth Chart – PG: I. Thomas SG: D. Wade SF: Lebron PF: K. Love C: T. Thompson Bench: JR Smith, J. Crowder, D. Rose, K. Korver

The Cavs did about as well as they could have with the awkward situation Kyrie put them in. The Cavs needed to keep their team competitive in the short term to keep the chances of Lebron staying in Cleveland possible while also not mortgaging their future with the chance of Lebron leaving them this next offseason.. They somehow managed to do both by slightly downgrading Kyrie for Isaiah Thomas while adding a solid player in Jae Crowder and a likely top 5 pick in BKN. Dwayne Wade is a big time addition as he will take some of the spotlight off of Lebron and his playmaking duties on offense, especially if Isaiah Thomas’s hip is still a real problem come playoff time. Despite the turnover in the roster they still have Lebron James playing in one of the weakest conferences ever. 53.5 wins seems way too low to me I’m betting big on the OVER.

Toronto Raptors

Westgate Over/Unders: 48.5 wins

Last year’s record: 51-31

Key Additions: KJ Mcdaniels, C.J. Miles, OG Anunoby

Key Losses – Demarre Carrol, Cory Joseph, Patrick Patterson, PJ Tucker

Depth Chart: PG: K. Lowry SG: D. DeRozan SF: CJ Miles PF: S. Ibaka C: J. Valanciunas Bench: N. Powell, D. Wright, P. Siakam, J. Poetl

The Raptors signed Serge Ibaka to a big 3 year $65 mil contract which will help boast a formidable starting 5 but their bench is what worries me. After Norm Powell and Delon Wright I don’t see a lot of players that should be getting any more than 10 minutes a game. Lowry looked very guardable in the playoffs last year and I’m starting to think father time is catching up to him. With those concerns in mind I think reaching 49 wins is a stretch. I’m going with the UNDER here.

Milwaukee Bucks

Westgate Over/Unders: 47.5 wins

Last year’s record: 42-40

Additions: D.J. Wilson, Sterling Brown,

Loses – Michael Beasley, Spencer Hawes

Depth Chart- PG: Brogdon (Delly) SG: Snell (Vaughn or Brown) SF: Middleton (DJ Wilson or Brown) PF: Giannis (Teletovic) C: Thon and Moose splitting minutes

The Bucks have brought back the same team this year with the obvious loss of Jabari Parker who is expected to be out until February or March. That being said the Bucks showed real promise once Middleton returned last season. The Bucks sported the 6th best record in the NBA from the time when KMidd came back until the end of the year (20-11 over the course of a season would equal 53 wins) including the best record in the NBA during the month of March. A fully healthy KMidd with a full offseason of improvement under his belt, plus Giannis and company could be lethal in the depleted Eastern Conference. If the Bucks can find their form and stay healthy I expect them to be stronger than 47.5 wins. I’m going with the OVER.

Washington Wizards

Westgate Over/Unders: 47.5

Record last year: 49-33

Key additions: Tim Frazier, Jodie Meeks

Key Losses – Brandon Jennings, Bojan Bogdonovic

Depth Chart: PG: J. Wall SG: B. Beal SF: O. Porter PF: Markief Morris C: M. Gortat Bench: K. Oubre, J. Meeks, T. Frazier, I. Mahinmi

This is a team that boasted one of the best starting 5’s in the NBA last year but badly needed some bench depth. But, as a result of the Nets throwing out a monster max offer to Otto Porter (4 years, 106 mil), which the Wizards matched, they lost more pieces of their lackluster bench than they added. Luckily bench depth matters little come playoff time and their starting 5 is more than capable of getting the team to the playoffs. Taking all that into consideration I think 47.5 is very accurate. I’m guessing 48 wins this year so I’ll take the OVER.

Miami HEAT 

Westgate Over/Unders: 43.5 wins

Record last year: 41-41

Key additions – Kelly Olynyk, Bam Adebayo

Key Losses – Chris Bosh (officially waived this offseason)

Depth Chart – PG: G. Dragic SG: D. Waiters SF: J. Winslow PF: J. Johnson C: H. Whiteside Bench: J. Richardson, T. Johnson, K. Olynyk, B. Adebayo

After January 1st the Miami Heat had the 5th best record in the NBA but failed to reach the playoffs on the very last regular season game. They didn’t lose any significant players from last year’s team and having a full season to gel really will help this team going forward. Eric Spolstra is one of the best coaches in the NBA and Pat Riley fosters one of the best cultures in basketball and he has found a group of players that have bought in. I’m big on the Heat this year and I expect them to be one of the dark horses this year. OVER

Charlotte Hornets

Westgate Over/Unders: 42.5 wins

Last year’s record: 36-46

Key additions: Dwight Howard, Michael Carter-Williams, Malik Monk

Key Losses – Marco Bellinilli, Miles Plumlee, Ramon Sessions

Depth Chart: PG: K. Walker SG: N. Batum SF: M. Kidd-Gilchrist PF: M. Williams C: D. Howard Bench: M. Monk, MCW, C. Zeller, F. Kaminsky

The Hornets didn’t do much to get Howard in free agency but that might be for a reason. Howard posts up on 28% of his shots which is not optimal considering the post up is one of the least efficient shots in basketball. That being said he is an upgrade over C. Zeller. Kemba Walker is still a very very good point guard and Kidd-Gilchrist is an elite defender. 42.5 seems like an accurate place to put the Hornets but I’ll go with the UNDER because adding Howard probably doesn’t take them from 36 wins last year to 43 this year.

Philadelphia 76ers

Last season’s record: 28-54

Westgate Over/Unders: 42.5

Additions: Markelle Fultz, JJ Reddick, Amir Johnson, Ben Simmons (kind of),

Losses: Alex Poythress, Sergio Rodriguez, Gerald Henderson

Depth Chart: PG: M. Fultz SG: JJ Reddick SF: B. Simmons PF: D. Saric C: J. Embiid Bench: R. Covington, A. Johnson, J. Okafor

Their three best players have less than a half a season under their belt. Ben Simmons will finally step on a basketball court but the glaring spacing issues he causes are going to clog up their offense. The defense is going to be a problem relying on that many rookie and second year players. Westgate has them at 42.5 wins this year but let’s be real there is too many youngsters on their team to really give them a shot at 40 wins much less 43. UNDER.

Detroit Pistons

Westgate Over/Under: 38.5 wins

Last year’s record: 37-45

Key Additions – Avery Bradley, Langston Galloway

Key Losses – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris, Aron Baynes

Depth Chart: PG: R. Jackson SG: A. Bradley SF: T. Harris PF: J. Leuer C: A. Drummond Bench: S. Johnson, L. Kennard, H. Ellenson, L. Galloway

The Pistons didn’t do much to change their immediate outlook. They upgraded KCP for Avery Bradley and downgraded from Marcus Morris to Jon Leuer. Going from 37 wins last year to 38.5 this year seems fair considering the weakened eastern conference. It’s a toss up on this one but if I had to guess I’d go with the UNDER.

Orlando Magic

Westgate Over/Unders: 33.5 wins

Last year’s record: 29-53

Key additions – Arron Afflalo, Jonathen Simmons, Jonathen Isaac,

Key losses – Jeff Green, Jodie Meeks

Depth Chart: PG: E. Payton SG: E. Fournier SF: T. Ross PF: A. Gordon C:N. Vucivic Bench: A. Afflalo, M. Hezonja, J. Isaac, J. Simmons

The Magic picked up some nice pieces in Afflalo and Simmons while essentially losing no one. This team is very deep but lacks any star players to elevate them to the next level. With that being said this team has a very strong supporting cast and I expect their bench to beat up on most opposing team’s bench. I think this team is a little better than 33.5 wins. I’m going with the OVER.

Indiana Pacers

Westgate Over/Unders: 31.5

Last year’s record: 42-40

Key additions: Bojan Bogdanovic, Victor Olidipo, Domantis Sabonis, Cory Joseph, Darren Collison

Key losses – Paul George, C. J. Miles, Monta Ellis, Jeff Teague

Depth Chart: PG: D. Collison SG: V. Olidipo SF: B. Bogdonovic PF: T. Young C: M. Turner Bench: C. Joseph, L. Sephenson, D. Sabonis, Al Jefferson

The Pacers got robbed in the Paul George trade. I’m shocked that Celtics didn’t make a better offer than Olidipo at the max and Sabonis. This team lacks a strong scoring option on offense and a solid defensive starting 5. 31.5 wins isn’t a lot but I don’t see this team getting there. UNDER.

Brooklyn Nets


Westgate Over/Unders: 28.5 wins

Last year’s record: 20-62

Key Additions – D’Angelo Russell, Timofey Mozgov, (16 mil/3), Allen Crabbe (19 mil/3), DaMarre Carroll, Tyler Zeller

Key Losses – Brook Lopez, KJ McDaniels, Andrew Nicholson

Depth Chart: PG: Jeremy Lin SG: D’Angelo Russell SF: Allen Crabbe PF: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson C: Timofey Mozgov Bench: Carroll, LeVert, Whitehead, Trevor Booker

The Nets had an excellent offseason acquiring nice young pieces in Russell and Crabbe while only giving up Brook Lopez whose contract expires this year. The team lacks an identity as there are big question marks on both offense and defense but given the situation they were put in by that Boston trade I would say they are way ahead of schedule from where I expected them to be. Given how weak the Eastern Conference is this year and the talent that they added this year I am going to bet on the OVER this year.

Atlanta Hawks

Last year: 43-39

Westgate Superbook over/under win totals for 2017-2018: 25.5

Key Additions: Ersan Ilyasova (Howard Trade), Dwyane Dedmon, M. Bellinlli (Howard Trade), Miles Plumlee (Howard Trade), John Collins

Key Losses: Tim Hardaway Jr. (4/$71 mil to Knicks), Millsap (2/$61 mil to Nuggets)

Depth Chart: PG: Schroder SG: Bazemore SF: Prince PF: Ilyasova C: Dedmon Bench: John Collins, Mike Muscala, Marco Bellinilli, Malcom Delaney

25.5 wins seems about right to me. Coach Budenholzer is a Pop disciple that is a defense first coach that has coached a top 5 defense the past two years. His players have the defensive and rebounding tools to be in the top 12 this year in defense, because of that I’m going with the OVER.

Chicago Bulls

Westgate Over/Under: 21.5 wins

Last year’s record: 41-41

Key additions – Kris Dunn, Zach Lavine, Lauri Markkanen, Justin Holiday, Diamond Stone

Key Losses – Jimmy Butler, MCW, Rajon Rondo, Dwayne Wade

Depth Chart – PG: Kris Dunn, SG: Zach Lavine SF: Paul Zipser PF: Nikola Mirotic, C: Robin Lopez Bench: Valentine, Pondexter, Markkanen, Portis

The Jimmy Butler trade seemed like bad trade at the time and an even worse trade once we saw what the Cavs got in return for Kyrie. In short, this team is going to lose a lot of games this year and this team lacks talent and a strong head coach to keep the chaos of losing from getting into the head of the young players. 21.5 wins isn’t a lot but this team is even worse than that in my opinion. UNDER.


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