Bucks Remain Overwhelming Eastern Conference Favorite Post Trade Deadline at -150; Heat Jump to 2nd at +600

Giannis walking
Following a relatively quiet trade deadline, the Milwaukee Bucks are still East Favorites. Photo from @afcstuff (Twitter).
  • The Milwaukee Bucks had a quiet deadline day, but remain Eastern Conference favorites 
  • Miami Heat missed out on Danilo Gallinari, added Andre Iguodala, Jae Crowder & Solomon Hill
  • Philadelphia 76ers added bench help in Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III

The Eastern Conference contenders were relatively quiet on trade deadline day. The Milwaukee Bucks decided to stick rather than twist, as did the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors and Indiana Pacers. None of the teams made a blockbuster trade that drastically alters their NBA Championship odds.

Running away with the East, the Bucks are heavily favored even with moves from the Sixers and Heat. Milwaukee have been on a tear this year and were clearly not keen to make a move for the sake of it. Their attention will now turn to the buyout market.

NBA Eastern Conference Odds

Team Odds
Milwaukee Bucks -150
Miami Heat +600
Philadelphia 76ers +700
Boston Celtics +800
Toronto Raptors +900
Indiana Pacers +2000
Brooklyn Nets +3300
Orlando Magic +4000
Atlanta Hawks +15000
Charlotte Hornets +25000
Chicago Bulls +25000
Cleveland Cavaliers +25000
Detroit Pistons +25000
New York Knicks +25000
Washington Wizards +25000

Odds taken Feb. 6th.

Buyout Market Takes Center Stage

Tristan Thompson looked set for a buyout after Andre Drummond got traded to Cleveland, but that has reportedly been quashed. The buyout market is murky at this point, and Thompson was going to be a sought after name, particularly with the Boston Celtics failing to add a center via trade.

The buyout market looks like it could be weak, and that will be exaggerated if Thompson does indeed remain a Cav. A handful of Charlotte Hornets players could be bought out, though they are unlikely to make much of a difference for teams pursuing an NBA Finals berth.

Langston Galloway, who is shooting over 40% from deep this season, is one name that could be on the market. A player shooting like that from three-point land will help out almost any NBA team.

If bought out, Galloway would be a great fit on the Bucks, providing yet more perimeter threat. Although not a big market, Milwaukee may well have an advantage on buyout players – they will be looking to play for a team with a real title chance and shooters will all know how much fun it is to play alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Are the Bucks Unstoppable?

Whether they add buyout players or not, the Milwaukee Bucks are well deserving of their status as Eastern Conference favorites. They are making light work of the regular season, owning a 43-7 record.

Many of their wins have been sewn up before the fourth quarter. Milwaukee are a juggernaut, and they have one of the most dominant players in modern NBA history.

Following the deadline, none of the five teams chasing the Bucks made a move that moved the needle enough. The Bucks clearly didn’t feel under pressure to make a trad as Mike Budenholzer is seeing his team cruise past opponents on a nightly basis, and in Khris Middleton they have an underrated star, a serious second option come the postseason.

Some will still pose questions about Milwaukee’s system and its effectiveness in the playoffs. That will only become an issue if opponents can find a way to trouble Antetokounmpo like Kawhi Leonard did last year.

Sixers Address Issue

Only one team has the personnel to matchup with Antetokounmpo: The Philadelphia 76ers.

The Christmas Day matchup might have turned on three-point shooting percentages, but the main takeaway was how the Sixers dealt with Antetokounmpo’s long-legged surges into the paint. Joel Embiid was robust against him and avoided foul trouble. Al Horford matched up well as he has in the past. Ben Simmons has the size and athleticism to keep pace.

This Philly team was built to beat Milwaukee, and for all their failings, they remain the most well-equipped team in the East to do just that.

Trading for Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III adds plenty of shooting. The pair were hitting 37.5% and 40% on decent volume, respectively, for the Warriors. Neither solve the offensive fit problems that Brett Brown is wrestling with, but they could help with spacing.

Three Arrive In Miami

Andre Iguodala, Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill are all heading to the Miami Heat after a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies, which saw the talented Justise Winslow join up with Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson.

The Heat missed out on Danilo Gallinari as they were unable to negotiate an extension, which they did manage to do with Iguodala. For a so-so defensive team, Iguodala and Crowder should represent a marked upgrade. There’s uncertainty there, though.

ESPN’s defensive real plus-minus has Crowder as one of the worst defensive small forwards in the league. Iguodala has just turned 36 and hasn’t played in the NBA in almost a year.

The loss of Winslow doesn’t hurt them too much this year. He’s been injured anyway and has played just 11 games.

Hill is a good three-point shooter, but he’s unlikely to get many minutes come the postseason. This trade is reliant on Iguodala still being the defensive force he was with Golden State and Crowder improving his shooting numbers (he’s under 30% from three this season and has only shot over 34% from deep once in his career).

Adding veterans understandably shortens Miami’s price. Whether it warrants them being second favorites is an a trickier debate.

Raps Hold Onto Vets

It seems a long time ago that a re-tool was a realistic option for Masai Ujiri. The Toronto Raptors are second in the East and performing as well as they did last season despite losing Leonard and rarely being at full-strength.

Nick Nurse is one of the favorites for Coach of the Year. Toronto are an elite defensive unit, ranking second in the NBA in defensive rating. They are a post-season tested group, a mix of veterans and developing talents like OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam.

The Raptors are on course for a favorable first round series against the Magic or Nets. Despite the high level of performances throughout this season, Toronto are downplayed as NBA Finals contenders and wrongly so.

If they can get all their core guys healthy, the Raptors are a dark horse to defend their Eastern Conference crown. They are that good.

Playoffs Are Wide Open

These East playoffs are going to be so much fun. The Bucks are the team to beat and even at -150, probably the best bet on the board. Beyond them, though, it’s so hard to pick between the teams.

Trading for Andre Iguodala has put Miami up to second, but they are still reliant on inexperienced players in Kendrick Nunn, Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro. Their defense isn’t as well set up to stop Antetokounmpo as Philly’s. The Sixers’ offensive issues and woeful road record serve as a massive red flag to bettors, but with all that talent and the best shot at slowing the Greek Freak, many will be wondering if they are worth backing at +700.

The Thompson situation could alter the outlook for Boston. Missing out on Clint Capela was a real shame – their center options make them a hard team to seriously consider.

At +900, a longer price than Boston, Philly and Miami, the Raptors will surely get a lot of backing. Don’t rule out an Eastern Conference Finals rematch.

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