2013/14 wasn’t destined to be a season our beloved Celtics made the playoffs. Even the awful East wasn’t so bad that the 25-56 Celts could get in. Still, in a rebuilding year for the green and white, it’s about time to take a look at how their Eastern Conference rivals will fare in their upcoming playoff campaigns.
Linesmakers, like TopBet which offer NBA Futures to use as reference here, look at everything from injuries to strength of schedule in setting their odds to win the NBA championship, and the price they set on these Celtics competitors is a useful way to measure their likelihood to go all the way.
Toronto Raptors – +6000
While the Celtics floundered near the bottom of the Atlantic, the Toronto Raptors claimed just their second ever division title and will enjoy home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. It’s been a remarkable season for Canada’s team, amid changes in personnel (the Rudy Gay trade) and in the front office (Masai Ujiri replacing Bryan Colangelo).
Although they’re +6,000 longshots to win the championship, the dynamic backcourt of DeMar DeRozan (22.8 PPG) and Kyle Lowry (17.9 PPG) as well as the emergence of Jonas Valanciunas (18 PPG and 12 RPG in April) are a good shout to make some noise in this year’s playoffs.
Brooklyn Nets – +4,000
Celtic old boys Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are heading to the playoffs after all. After a horrid start to the season, the Brooklyn Nets have bounced back in the latter half of the season to look somewhat like the contenders they were touted to be. Homecourt has been key to the Nets’ success; they went 28-13 in the house that Jay-Z built, including a massive 15-game winning streak.
Whether they face the Raptors or Bulls in the first round, the Pierce- and Garnett-led Nets have the team to knock out the higher seed.
Miami Heat – +225
The classic Boston-Miami match-ups of yesteryear are now a thing of the past, but the Heat aren’t done just yet. LeBron James and co. are the heavy favorites at +225 to complete their three-peat this year, despite their failure to lock down the no. 1 seed in the East.
Dwyane Wade’s health remains shrouded in mystery, but with the Indiana Pacers’ end-of-season struggles coupled with James’ ability to single-handedly lift his team to victory makes the Heat still the team to beat.