- The Brooklyn Nets are the opening favorites to win what should be a very competitive Atlantic Division in 2020-21
- Boston just trails Brooklyn in the opening odds, with the Sixers and Raptors tied at +375
- See the full odds for the Atlantic Division and our early breakdown below
It’s possible that the Atlantic Division claims the top four seeds in the Eastern Conference. There are four teams with legitimate ambitions to make a deep playoff run and then there’s the New York Knicks, who look destined to be one of the worst teams in the NBA once again.
Brooklyn, Boston, Philadelphia and Toronto are all loaded with talent. There are stars everywhere you look and some of the league’s best coaches. Their regular season duels are going to be brilliant to watch, but which team will claim win the division?
The odds below show the Nets as the opening favorites, just ahead of the Celtics.
2020-21 Atlantic Division Opening Odds
|New York Knicks||+15000|
Odds taken on November 27th
Over Confidence In Brooklyn
The Nets’ betting status accounts for the possibility of a James Harden trade. With the Rockets standing firm, though, we can only evaluate the Nets as currently constructed. There’s little to go on, as two superstars are coming off injuries, and have a collection of good players around them, but we have no idea how they are going to look under a first-time head coach in Steve Nash.
Without Harden, this is a team riddled with unknowns. How close is Kevin Durant to the player he was before he tore his Achilles? How many games can Kyrie Irving play? Are the chemistry issues that surfaced last season a deep-rooted problem?
Deep with talent and with potentially two top ten players, the ceiling of the Nets is so high. A scenario where Durant and Irving load manage, where it takes time to develop on-court chemistry, is easy to imagine, however. It’s a bit generous to make them Atlantic Division favorites.
Where the Nets have overhauled pretty much everything over the last 18 months, the Celtics have had relative stability. The core of Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown remain. Brad Stevens isn’t going anywhere. Boston has lost in the Conference Finals in three of the last four seasons, building a six-year playoff streak under Stevens, but they have only won the division once (2016-17) in that period.
The Celtics would be right to feel aggrieved at being anything other than favorite to win the Atlantic Division in 2020-21. The loss of Gordon Hayward hurts them, but they added two useful veterans in Tristan Thompson and Jeff Teague and will be expecting another step forward from Tatum and Brown.
Boston is the easiest to project of the four. They are the most likely to be a top four seed, even if the ceiling isn’t as high as Brooklyn (and maybe even Philadelphia).
Relocated Raptors In the Mix
The Toronto Raptors were downplayed after losing Kawhi Leonard. They responded by having their best season (by winning percentage) in franchise history. Now playing in Tampa, the Raps have again lost key players in Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol, but they crucially re-signed Fred VanVleet and brought in Aron Baynes to replace some of the lost minutes at the five.
Reigning Coach of the Year Nick Nurse manufactured wins with masterful adjustments last season. Kyle Lowry is still one of the league’s top point guards, and it’s reasonable to expect further improvement from OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam.
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) November 25, 2020
Even without the veteran title-winning big men, the Raptors have the personnel to again be an elite defensive team. Nurse has used his roster well – he improves players and puts them in their best role. It gives them roster depth that wasn’t always obvious.
Outsiders in the Atlantic Division odds, and understandably so, the Raptors might be short on the star power to win in the playoffs, but they have a great coach and enough good players to collect plenty of regular season wins.
Daryl Morey wasted no time re-shaping this Sixers roster. Doc Rivers already has a better group to work with than Brett Brown did last season. Al Horford’s departure makes things much easier for Philly, and allows Rivers to run the Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and three shooters lineups that made them a fringe title contender a couple of years ago.
Embiid is here to give his all in that grind 🏆 pic.twitter.com/2W9i4VAIHS
— Sixers Nation (@SixersNationCP) November 26, 2020
If healthy, the Sixers will be better than 2019-20. The signing of Dwight Howard should help them in non-Embiid minutes, but it might also suggest the Cameroonian star will be doing a fair bit of load management this season.
A first division title since 2000-01 would be a nice bonus for the Sixers. They are not going to pursue regular season wins at the risk of playoff availability, though, which makes them an unappealing bet at that price.
Best bets: Boston Celtics (+200), Toronto Raptors (+375)