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2017 NBA Win Totals: Eastern Conference Edition

Photo by Keith Allison (Flickr) CC License

The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook has set the over/under win totals for all 30 NBA teams and, surprise-surprise, the Golden State Warriors are once again on top with a projected win total of 67.5. That’s half a game better than the defending champs fared last season, and it takes into consideration a variety of factors, like the growing chemistry between Steph Curry and Kevin Durant, the franchise’s harmonious offseason, and the league’s competitive balance (or lack thereof).

The Warriors’ win total feels about right, but Westgate didn’t nail every one of their projections. Over the next two days, we’ll examine each one of their bold predictions and tell you whether to take the over or under.

In order to lead off tomorrow’s article with “Go west, young man,” we have to start in the Eastern Conference.

Boston Celtics: Under 56.5

The Celtics improved the top of their roster drastically during the offseason with the acquisition of All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, but they’ve done so at the cost of depth and continuity. Boston has only four players remaining from last year’s 53-win squad, and chemistry could be a major issue out of the gate. Brad Stevens and the C’s will likely figure it out by December, but don’t be surprised if some early-season miscues keep them from reaching 56.5 wins. We have them tabbed for 54 wins and a return date with the Cavs in the Eastern Conference finals.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Over 53.5

The Cavaliers are infamous for treating the regular season like summer league, but we’re willing to bet they’ll surpass Westgate’s 53.5-win projection. Derrick Rose won’t be asked to carry the team; Jae Crowder will keep LeBron fresh; and Isaiah Thomas, once healthy, will resume his role as one of the game’s best closers. LeBron has all the help he needs (and then some) to win 55 games and return to the NBA finals for the eighth consecutive year.

Toronto Raptors: Over 48.5

If we’ve learned anything over the past four years, it’s to never underestimate the Raptors in the regular season, and always underestimate them in the playoffs. Dwane Casey’s club typically overachieves when the games matter least before folding like cheap deck chairs in April. That pattern should hold true again, which is why we’re picking the Raps for an even 50 victories in 2017-18.

Photo by Keith Allison (Flickr) CC License

Milwaukee Bucks: Over 47.5

There’s a lot to be excited about in Milwaukee – and that’s saying something for a town best known for producing one of America’s most mediocre beers. The Bucks are on the rise thanks to the meteoric ascent of Giannis Antetokounmpo and the unexpected emergence of players like Tony Snell, Khris Middleton, and 2017 Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon. If Jabari Parker can manage to stay out of the ER then 48 wins is well within reach.

Washington Wizards: Over 47.5

It won’t take a magic spell for the Wizards to eclipse 48 wins. Washington is returning the same battle-tested core from last year’s 49-win team and added some quality outside shooting with the acquisitions of Jodie Meeks and Mike Scott. Meanwhile the bottom of the East got even worse. Washington should be able to feast on about half of its conference. Take the over on the Wizards all the way.

Miami Heat: Under 43.5

Westgate thinks the Heat are going to pick up right where they left off after finishing the season on a 30-11 run, but we’re not so sure. For starters, expect a regression from Dion Waiters now that he’s gotten his mega-contract. Second, the Heat didn’t do enough to bolster their bench. Sure, Kelly Olynyk is a nice pick-up, but only if you’re filming a biopic about Bill Walton. For those reasons, and more, we’re taking the under on the Heat.

Charlotte Hornets: Under 42.5

Choosing whether to take the over or under on the Hornets is really a referendum on Dwight Howard. Do you believe, as Charlotte surely must, that he’s still a game-changing defender? Or do you think, as we certainly do, that’s he a petulant, washed-up star who will be shipped out of town before his contract is up? Apart from Malik Monk, Howard is the only major addition to last year’s 36-win team, and he’s the principle reason we’re taking the under on Michael Jordan’s club.

Philadelphia 76ers: Under 42.5

We want to trust “the Process.” We really do. J.J. Redick and Amir Johnson are great veteran additions but, at the end of the day, the Sixers are still relying on a pair of rookies and a center who’s made more trips to the hospital than Meredith Grey. Until Ben Simmons proves he can hit a jump shot and Joel Embiid proves he can play in back-to-back games, Philly looks like a 40-win team.

Detroit Pistons: Over 38.5

Westgate thinks the Pistons will improve by nearly two games next season, and we agree. Detroit will benefit greatly from the arrival of Avery Bradley and the floor spacing of Luke Kennard. Anything close to a full season from Reggie Jackson should push them to 40 victories. Take the over and just pray it doesn’t come down to a free-throw shooting contest with Andre Drummond.

Photo by Keith Allison (Flickr) CC License

Orlando Magic: Under 33.5

The Magic are Donald Trump’s worst nightmare: a whole lot of sixes without a ten in sight. The roster is full of promising players like Terrence Ross, Aaron Gordon, and Evan Fournier, but until Orlando converts some of its young talent into a bona fide star, they’re going nowhere. We’re taking the under on this rudderless mess of a franchise.

Indiana Pacers: Under 31.5

We’re big fans of Most Improved Player candidate Myles Turner, but 31.5 victories feels like a major stretch for a team without a clear-cut superstar. Indiana is bound to miss Paul George on both sides of the ball, and force-feeding minutes to Lance Stephenson and Damien Wilkins isn’t going to help. We’re knocking Indiana down to 28 wins and officially ignoring them every time they pop up on League Pass.

New York Knicks: Under 30.5   

No one knows for sure what the Knicks will look like come February. Will Carmelo Anthony still be around? Will Kristaps Porzingis and Jeff Hornacek be on speaking terms? Will Tim Hardaway Jr.’s PER be lower than a snake’s ass in a wagon ride? There are far more questions than answers, and that’s why we’re taking the under on Westgate’s projection of 30.5 wins. It’s a safe bet – which is one thing you usually can’t say about the Knicks.

Brooklyn Nets: Under 28.5

The Nets aren’t going to hit a lot of things this year, and that includes Westgate’s projected win total of 28.5. Jeremy Lin is constantly in and out of the line-up, the bench is thinner than Kate Moss after a week-long fast, and Magic Johnson’s hand is probably still sore from all the high fives he got for unloading Timofey Mozgov and D’Angelo Russell. Take the under and keep on moving. Life is too short to waste on the Nets.

Atlanta Hawks: Under 25.5

How the mighty have fallen. Three years after sending four players to the All-Star Game, the Hawks are a shell of their former selves. Al Horford is in Boston, Paul Millsap is in Denver, Jeff Teague is in Minnesota, and Kyle Korver is in Cleveland trying not to make eye contact with LeBron James. Not only will the Hawks miss the playoffs for the first time in 11 seasons, but they’ll also miss Westgate’s projected win total. Put ‘em down for 24 wins and come back in a couple of years when they’re fielding NBA talent again.

Chicago Bulls: Under 21.5

The Chicago Bulls have a lot of big-name players on their roster. Unfortunately, they have the wrong first names. Head coach Fred Hoiberg is stuck with Justin Holiday instead of Jrue Holiday, Robin Lopez instead of Brook Lopez, Jerian Grant instead of Horace Grant, and Denzel Valentine instead of Darnell Valentine. This team is built to lose, and 60.5 losses might even be a bit optimistic. Play it safe and take the under.

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