The Atlantic Division could be the softest group of teams in the NBA, which means plenty of pointspread value on a nightly basis. The Nets and Knicks look to be the class of the division but the Raptors could turn out to be a diamond in the rough.
Boston Celtics (2012-13: 41-40 SU, 36-42-3 ATS)
Odds To Win Division: +3300
Season Win Total: 27.5
Why Bet the Celtics: They have a new coach in Brad Stevens and eventually Rajon Rondo is going to return. In the early part of the season, there will be good value with the Celtics as they figure to be an underdog in most games. They have not won less than 30 games since the 2006-07 season.
Why Not To Bet the Celtics: The heart and soul was officially ripped out of this team with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett both being dealt to division rival Brooklyn. It remains to be seen how well Stevens can coach at this level. Boston is not Butler. Doc Rivers struggled here before "The Big 3" came to town. The team can’t shoot and Rondo's ACL is going to be a concern.
Season Win Total Pick: Over 27.5 wins
Brooklyn Nets (2012-13: 49-33 SU, 39-40-3 ATS)
Odds To Win Division: -200
Season Win Total: 52.5
Why Bet the Nets: With the additions of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, the Nets become the clear favorite to win the Atlantic Division, with the rival Knicks the lone roadblock. This was a team that finished fourth in the Eastern Conference last year and should be better in 2013-14. They won 49 games before all the additions last year.
Why Not To Bet the Nets: Is Jason Kidd, who has never been a coach in his life, really the right choice to lead this team? It's an old roster with Garnett, Pierce and Jason Terry coming aboard. If Kidd is smart (again, remains to be seen), he will rest his veterans down the stretch, saving them for the playoffs. Winning the division may not require 50 wins.
Season Win Total Pick: Under 52.5 Wins
New York Knicks (2012-13: 54-28 SU, 46-34-2 ATS)
Odds To Win Division: +175
Season Win Total: 49.5
Why Bet The Knicks: They won the Atlantic wire to wire last year, winning 50-plus games for the first time in a long time. Carmelo Anthony is still the best player in the division. There just aren't many teams on their level in the Eastern Conference and the division is weak. This is one of only five teams in the East that I can predict to have a winning record with full confidence.
Why Not To Bet The Knicks: I hate this roster. Why in the world would you give all that money to J.R. Smith and then trade for Andrea Bargnani? After a fast start to last season, they tailed off significantly and were completely outclassed in the playoff loss to Indiana. They don't play defense, which is the big difference between them and the top four teams in the conference.
Season Win Total Pick: Under 49.5 Wins.
Philadelphia 76ers (2012-13: 34-48 SU, 39-42-1 ATS)
Odds To Win Division: +6600
Season Win Total: 16.5
Why Bet The 76ers: Wow. I'm searching for reasons here. On a game-by-game basis, the Sixers will be getting plenty of points from the oddsmakers, often double digits. Looking at the season win total, it is five wins lower than any other team. I suppose that indicates some value. Every team in the league won at least 20 games last year and you'd have to go back to 2009-10 to find the last time a team won fewer than 15 in a non-lockout shortened season.
Why Not To Bet The 76ers: This is a total rebuild and the franchise isn't even attempting to hide the fact that they're tanking for next year's talent-rich draft. The Sixers didn't even bother hiring a head coach until August. This was the lowest-scoring team in the league last year and they traded away their best player, Jrue Holliday. The rookie they got in return, Nerlens Noel, may not be ready to play until Christmas. This is definitely the worst team in the NBA.
Season Win Total Pick: Under 16.5 Wins.
Toronto Raptors (2012-13: 34-48 SU, 41-40-1 ATS)
Odds To Win Division: +1400
Season Win Total: 36.5
Why Bet The Raptors: There are a lot of bad teams this year in the Eastern Conference and surprisingly the Raptors are better than most of them. This was a .500 team with Rudy Gay in the lineup and if Jonas Valanciunas continues to improve, then the Raptors will have themselves a nice young core of players with DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry and Amir Johnson. They hired a smart GM away from Denver (Masai Ujiri).
Why Not to Bet The Raptors: It's still a young team not ready to make the leap. Even in a weak Eastern Conference, I would be surprised to see this be a playoff team.
Season Win Total Pick: Over 36.5 Wins