Eastern Conference winner odds
Our basketball expert looks at Eastern Conference winner odds as the 2017/18 season tip-off approaches, with both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics vying for the top seed.
After a summer of blockbusting trades and headline grabbing free agents moves, focus now turns to action on the court and who will come out on top in their respective conferences.
Will Kyrie Irving haunt Cleveland or can LeBron James prove once again his all-time great ability by powering his Ohio outfit successfully past the East’s challengers.
So, we’ve taken a look at the early Eastern Conference winner odds ahead of the new campaign…
Cavaliers to reassert East dominance?
This season it appears to be a straight two horse race for the Eastern Conference.
LeBron has been to the last seven NBA Finals and a team that possesses the all-time great can never be written off, but losing Irving may severely hamper the 2015/16 champions.
The All-Star point guard sunk the dagger that all-but sealed the title that year over the Golden State Warriors, completing a historic comeback.
In return for Irving, Cleveland got Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder amongst other sweeteners to complete the deal.
However, with long-term injury doubts looming around 5ft 9in Thomas and guys of his size not normally ageing well on the court, Cavs may well have just shot themselves in the foot.
Look at the veteran names they’ve brought in during the offseason and their once great abilities, and it makes for even more worrying reading.
Will injury depleted Derrick Rose and 35-year-old Dwyane Wade really get them closer to Golden State, or even past Boston?
The addition of Crowder will help defend the wings and add more bite to Tyronn Lue’s side, but the likes of Jeff Green and Jose Calderon do little to improve the Cavs.
Nonetheless, a side boasting LeBron cannot be overlooked and is 4/6 with Paddy Power to win the Eastern Conference this term.
Bolstered Boston to beat Cleveland?
While the Cavaliers look to have stagnated, Brad Stevens’ Boston have taken yet another step forward in pursuit of their first NBA championship since 2008.
Building upon the success of attracting Al Horford to Massachusetts last summer, the Celtics had their sights on All-Star forward Gordon Hayward and managed to land him.
Now, boasting a starting five featuring Horford, Hayward and a determined Irving looking to prove a point and move out of LeBron’s shadow.
The future is certainly bright on the famous parquet of the Boston garden.
As for depth, the Celtics took a hit with the loss of Avery Bradley, Crowder, but will hope Jaylen Brown is ready to make the leap and Jayson Tatum builds upon his early promise, to soften the blow.
Early signs from preseason show lightning fast ball movement from Stevens’ side, so expect them to challenge the Cavs.