With LeBron James taking his talents to some beach on the west coast, the NBA Central Division is up for grabs for the first time in three years. The Pacers and Bucks appear to be the cream of this wayward crop, but where do you sit on their season win totals? And who’s going to take the division? The public and mainstream seems to be leaning towards Milwaukee, but the Indiana Pacers accomplished miracles last year that are replicable in the 2018-19 NBA season.
NBA Central Division Odds
Milwaukee Bucks +100
Indiana Pacers +140
Detroit Pistons +500
Cleveland Cavaliers +2500
Chicago Bulls +2500
Indiana Pacers – 46.5 Season Win Total
The Indiana Pacers are +140 to win the Central Division, and everyone who is overlooking their ability to repeat last year’s magical run is sorely underestimating them. The Pacers went 48-34 SU and 47-35 ATS last season after Victor Oladipo found his stride. They trailed the Cavaliers by just two games to end the 2017-18 campaign, and with LeBron James now playing for the Lakers, the division is up for grabs. What’s the greatest strength for Indiana? Outside of the fact that they were a top-10 defensive team that pushed LeBron to seven games in the first round of the playoffs last year, they have a boat load of blue chippers that are all going to be seeking long term deals like the one that Myles Turner (4 years, $80 million) just signed. It’s a nice mix of young talent, hungry to prove that last year was no fluke. Beyond that, everyone is ignoring the Indiana Pacers because of the…
Milwaukee Bucks – 47.5 Season Win Total
One of the reasons the Indiana Pacers are being graded as the second best team is because the Bucks have the best player in the division. They have been somewhat of an underperforming tire fire for the past two years, largely because of former head coach Jason Kidd. With the highly regarded Mike Budenholzer coming to town, the expectations are as high as they deserve to be for a team that is legitimately talented. Giannis is a +450 outsider to win MVP, but the Bucks have to prove overall that they’re going to avoid their nasty habit of being a perennial letdown team. They finished the year an abysmal 34-43-5 ATS. We’ll find out if this franchise has a cultural deficit that is greater than their basketball potential. If Budenholzer can’t make them a true playoff contender, then nobody can. Take the OVER if you’re a believer.
Detroit Pistons – 38.5 Season Win Total
The Pistons pulled off the biggest trade of the deadline last year when they acquired Blake Griffin, but it didn’t change much. Detroit ended the year at 10-7 SU and missed the playoffs. Reigning Coach of the Year winner Dwane Casey will inject some much needed freshness in to a shallow roster that truthfully needs everything to go right if they’re going to unseat the Milwaukee Bucks or Indiana Pacers. Despite preseason optimism, and some general excitement that the Griffin-Drummond combination will be unique, the Pistons have routinely whiffed on a lot of hail mary’s. Reggie Jackson is always hurt and not that good, while former 8th overall pick Stanley Johnson never panned out. There is just zero depth on this roster, which might be a benefit for Casey, who had an embarrassment of riches in Toronto and never seemed able to manage his team properly when it mattered. For better and worse, that won’t be a problem in Detroit.
Despite all of this, the Pistons do have potential to hit the OVER, only if you think Cleveland is going to fall in to a ditch. Detroit won 39 games last season and were terrible for the entire first half due to injuries. It’s worth a flier play, but if you’re tentative about them, then the UNDER is a soft, safe play. There are a lot of “if’s” that have to go off for Detroit to be even remotely competitive, and they are not built for the new NBA. But crazier things have happened in this league than the 2018-19 Detroit Pistons winning 39 games again.
Cleveland Cavaliers – 30.5 Season Win Total
LeBron James ‘only’ accounted for an 8.93 wins above replacement value (WAR) through 2017-18. But the Cavaliers went from a 50-win team and are now projected for nearly twenty games less in the upcoming season. The math does not compute. To say that this is a bad team is a bit insulting – there are a lot of solid pieces here. An OVER bet does seem like the way to go, but there is legitimate fear that the Cavs could try to trigger a rebuild by moving some playoff-worthy players like Kevin Love or J.R. Smith at or near the deadline. For reference, the Cavaliers are being graded out with the same season win total as the Orlando Magic…and are even one game back of the Brooklyn Nets according to oddsmakers. It’s not a great look. The UNDER is a safer play.
Chicago Bulls – 28.5 Season Win Total
No thanks. There’s a reason the Bulls have the third worst season win total of any team in the league. Take the UNDER, skip tracking this team and move on to something more interesting.