NBA Atlantic Division Preview: Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets in Fierce 3-Team Battle

Posted on: October 12, 2022, 01:53h. 

Last updated on: October 13, 2022, 05:53h.

The Boston Celtics are the betting favorite at +175 odds to win the Atlantic Division. That’s with the Brooklyn Nets (+185) and Philadelphia 76ers (+300) not far behind in one of the deepest divisions in the NBA this season.

NBA Atlantic Division odds preview Brooklyn Nets Boston Celtics Knicks Raptors 76ers
Jayson Tatum from the Boston Celtics is defended by Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers during an Atlantic Division game at Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia. The Celtics edged out the 76ers last season to win the Atlantic Division. (Image: Getty)

The stacked Atlantic Division sent four teams to the Eastern Conference playoffs last season, with only the New York Knicks missing out on a postseason spot.

2022-23 NBA Atlantic Division Odds

  • Boston Celtics +175
  • Brooklyn Nets +185
  • Philadelphia 7ers +300
  • Toronto Raptors +1300
  • New York Knicks +6000

** Odds via DraftKings

The Celtics won the Eastern Conference championship last season but lost to the Golden State Warriors in the 2022 NBA Finals. The Celtics are one of the top three teams on DraftKings’s futures board at +600 odds to win the 2022-23 NBA Championship.

The Nets are right behind them at +700 odds of winning the NBA title. But the 76ers are seventh on the board at +1500 odds.

Boston Celtics +175

During the off-season, the Celtics were the consensus favorite to win the next NBA Championship. But that was before all of the Ime Udoka drama unfolded. The Celtics suspended Udoka for one season for violating the team’s conduct policy because of an inappropriate relationship with a female staffer.

The Celtics tapped assistant coach Joe Mazzulla to become their interim head coach. There wasn’t much drop-off in the futures market after the Udoka suspension because the team remains intact.

The Celtics had the best record in the second half of the season thanks to their smothering, switching defense, anchored by Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart and Robert Williams III. RW3’s long-term health is a concern, but he’s a game-changer when he’s healthy. A knee injury slowed him down in last year’s postseason.

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are the focal points of the offense. Tatum can erupt for 50-plus points on any given night, and Brown is a streaky scorer who can heat up quickly.

The Celtics added some additional firepower to help Tatum/Brown. The Celtics upgraded their bench with point guard Malcolm Brogdon in a trade with the Indiana Pacers. They also added veteran forwards Danilo Gallinari and Blake Griffin.

The Celtics are +175 odds to win consecutive Atlantic Division titles. But expect another close race this season, with the divisional crown once again coming down to the last week of the season.

Brooklyn Nets +185

It’s never a dull day with the Brooklyn Nets. There’s always some sort of drama involving Kyrie Irving and/or Kevin Durant. On the rare instance it’s a slow news day in Brooklyn, just wait until Irving gets bored and tweets out some odd conspiracy theory or decides to take off for a week for mental health or socio-political issues.

At one point this summer, Irving and Durant requested trades. It looked like the Nets were about to implode, but general manager Sean Marks wasn’t quick to dump the disgruntled All-Stars. Durant and Irving eventually rescinded their trade requests and patched up their issues. For now, the locker room is simpatico in Brooklyn. But give it some time before everything likely goes sideways.

The vibes have been straight but who knows what the vibes will be if we hit a skid or if we’re not playing well or if somebody gets injured,” Durant said yesterday, which summed up the current state of the Nets.

Let’s not forget about point guard Ben Simmons, who forced a trade from the Philadelphia 7ers after an ugly fallout with the front office, his teammates, and the fan base. Simmons struggled with a bad back and mental health issues last season, which is why he never suited up for the Nets. Simmons underwent successful back surgery and is in much better head space. We’ll see if his poor shooting will come back to haunt him.

In the meantime, the Nets also have sharpshooter Joe Harris back in the lineup. Harris missed most of last season recovering from ankle surgery.

If the Nets remain healthy, they have enough talent to win the Atlantic Division. However, there are too many fragile egos on the team. The Nets are one bad incident away from Durant and Irving demanding a trade.

With so many unknowns and Irving’s unpredictable nature, it’s tough to back the Nets at +185 odds to win the Atlantic Division.

Philadelphia 7ers +300

There was no shortage of James Harden memes last season taking cheap shots at the shooting guard’s paunchy physique. Harden was a gym rat all off-season and showed up to training camp in much better condition.

This last year and half, I really wasn’t healthy enough to put the proper work in like I’m used to,” said Harden. “This summer was huge for me in that aspect.”

A healthy and svelte Harden is on a mission with Joel Embiid to deliver a long-awaited NBA championship to Philadelphia.

Embiid was bitter that he lost out in the closest MVP race in two decades. Nikola Jokic from the Denver Nuggets won the MVP in back-to-back seasons, and Embiid came in a close second place. Embiid comes into this season with a chip on his shoulder. He never lacked motivation, but injuries slowed down the big man the last couple of postseasons.

He suffered an orbital fracture during the playoffs’ first round and missed a few key games against the Miami Heat during the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The 76ers were 51-31 last season and finished in second place in the Atlantic Division behind the Celtics. The 76ers are +300 odds to win the Atlantic this season, but they’re worthy of a flier because of the shaky nature of the Nets and the Celtics missing their head coach.

Toronto Raptors +1300

Amidst the Durant trade rumors, the Toronto Raptors saw a spike in their futures prices across the board, including their NBA Championship odds, Eastern Conference title odds, and Atlantic Division odds. There was a week or two this summer when the Raptors were one of the leading contenders to land Durant in a trade with the Nets. With Durant remaining in Brooklyn for now, the Raptors are back to being the sleepy team north of the border.

The Raptors are led by Pascal Siakim, Fred VanVleet, and last year’s NBA Rookie of the Year, Scottie Barnes. OG Anunoby asked the Raptors to trade him after he lost playing time to an up-and-coming Barnes.

The Raptors are a long shot to win the Atlantic at +1300 odds.  If the Raptors and head coach Nick Nurse can placate Anunoby, they can compete for the Atlantic title. Otherwise, they might be battling for a spot in the Eastern Conference Play-In Tournament.

New York Knicks +6000

Once again, the New York Knicks were rumored to land a big-time player, but it never came to fruition. The Knicks couldn’t work out a trade with the Utah Jazz to obtain Donovan Mitchell’s services. Instead, the Jazz traded Mitchell to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Knicks were shut out.

The Knicks will ride or die with forward Julius Randle. They were one of the surprise teams in the NBA two seasons ago, when a hot-shooting Randle was an MVP candidate and led the Knicks to the #4 seed in the 2021 Eastern Conference playoffs. However, a moody Randle was bogged down in a slump last year, and the Knicks didn’t make the 2022 Eastern Conference Play-In Tournament.

If the 2020-21 version of Randle returns to Gotham, the Knicks could return to the playoffs. If Randle continues another ugly slump, expect the stagnant offense to conjure up a nightly chorus of boos from faithful fans at Madison Square Garden.

The Knicks signed point guard Jalen Brunson in the offseason. Brunson allegedly didn’t return to the Dallas Mavericks because he thought Luka Doncic was a ball hog. Brunson will find out the hard way that he’ll encounter the same problem with Randle.

The Knicks have numerous talented young players. But head coach Tom Thibodeau has a bad habit of doling out the majority of playing time to veterans. Last season’s second unit — anchored by Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin — often outplayed the starting five. Back-up shooting guard Quentin Grimes tore up the NBA Summer League and is part of the Knicks’ bench mob, including Derrick Rose, Cam Reddish, and Isaiah Hartenstein.

The Knicks are +6000 odds as the longest shot on the board to win the Atlantic Division. If Thibodeau cannot shake his aversion to young players, and Randle continues to suck the life out of the offense, it will be another long season of heartbreak for the Knicks and their beleaguered fan base.