With a nine-game lead over the 2-seed Toronto Raptors ahead of Friday night’s action, the Milwaukee Bucks appear to be a lock to be the top seed in the Eastern Conference come playoff time. While this theoretically gives them the easiest route to the NBA Finals, it doesn’t mean they are a lock to win anything come playoff time.
They were the 1-seed last season, but things didn’t quite work out for them. While they made it to the Eastern Conference Finals with relative ease and won the first two games of the Series, Toronto roared back and took the next four (and the series).
So, while they may seem dominant now, that doesn’t mean they are infallible come playoff time. But if you are not going to take the Bucks to win the East (-189 at BetMGM.com), then who?
The Boston Celtics have the next best odds at +600, followed by the Toronto Raptors (+750), Philadelphia 76ers (+800), and Miami Heat (+850). Once you get past those guys, the odds take a pretty dramatic leap up. The Indiana Pacers have the best odds after Miami at +2500.
So, of the top four (not including Milwaukee), who do you take?
Milwaukee has recorded two convincing wins over Toronto already this season, so it may be hard to justify going with them. However, the 76ers are 1-2 against the Bucks, Miami is 2-0 against them, and Boston is 1-1.
It looks like there is a chance either the Heat, 76ers, or Celtics could do it. But rather than just take one, why not take all three? You can at BetMGM.com:
- Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, or Philadelphia 76ersto win the Eastern Conference +250
Before taking this wager, it would be smart to see how the postseason could play out. The Bucks will likely cruise past the Orlando Magic or Brooklyn Nets in the first round. If Boston remains in the 3-seed, they will face Indiana in what should be a good but winnable series for them.
But as the standings are, the Heat and 76ers could face-off in the opening round. This also means one of them will face the Bucks in the semi-final round.
Boston will likely see Toronto in the semis, another tough but winnable series for them (they lead the regular-season series with the Raptors 2-1).
If the Heat beat the Bucks and the Celtics handle the Raptors, then this bet is a lock to win. But if the Bucks beat the Heat, then it will be tougher but still winnable.
Should you take this wager? All three teams have a good chance of making a nice run in the playoffs. But, at the same time, so do the Bucks. However, the Bucks looked like a shoo-in for the NBA Finals last year and dropped the ball.
Why should we believe this year is going to be any different?
So—what should you do? The smart money is on Milwaukee to win the Eastern Conference, but a small wager here would not be a bad idea (just in case the Bucks flop in the playoffs again). You’ll win less by taking all three rather than just one of them, but then you will have money on half of the field.