Celtics

Celtics

ESPN's Jalen Rose predicted Thursday the Boston Celtics will win the Eastern Conference when the 2019-20 NBA season resumes later this summer in Florida.

While oddsmakers also like the Celtics' chances of being a tough out in the playoffs, they aren't as high on Boston as Rose.

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DraftKings Sportsbook has unveiled its first betting lines for the 2019-20 Eastern Conference title following the 22-team season return plan the league announced Thursday.

The Celtics are tied with the Toronto Raptors for the second-best odds to win the East at +700.

Here are the latest odds, courtesy of DraftKings:

Milwaukee Bucks: -165
Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors: +700
Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers: +900
Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers: +3300
Orlando Magic: +10000
Washington Wizards: +15000

We know why the Bucks are the favorites. They dominated throughout the season and lead the East standings with a 52-13 record. Milwaukee has excelled at home and on the road, and its best player, superstar forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, has a great chance to win back-to-back league MVP awards.

The Bucks aren't without flaws, though. They are an average 3-point shooting team, and they rank among the worst free-throw shooting clubs. It's also hard to ignore the Bucks' exit from the 2019 playoffs, when they had trouble closing games and lost four straight to the Toronto Raptors after winning the first two matchups of the Eastern Conference Finals.

 

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The Celtics are a strong value play at +700. They are a well-balanced offensive team with four players -- Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward -- who can get a bucket at any time. Boston's defense also is strong, and we know the group is very well coached by Brad Stevens.

If you're really looking for a wild card, the Indiana Pacers are an interesting team at +3300 odds. Indiana is a hard team to play against with good fundamentals and plenty of depth. Pacers guard Victor Oladipo also has had a few extra months to build up strength in his previously injured knee, which kept him out of the lineup for most of last season and this season. The Pacers will be a tough out regardless of who they play.

The Bucks are the safest bet, but there are several other teams who pose a serious threat to Milwaukee's chances of reaching the NBA Finals. The East is wide open, and that's exciting.