Taking a first look at NBA’s Atlantic Win Totals

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Football is in full swing, but the NBA season is on the horizon.

Teams across their league held their annual Media Day on Monday, which is always accompanied by optimism in what can best be described as a rebirth of sorts. Beyond talk of what individuals have planned for protests during the national anthem, this time of year is all about teams coming together and building chemistry throughout training camp and the exhibition season before games begin to count on Oct. 26.

The Westgate LV Superbook has already released their projected win totals for all 30 teams, so we’ll begin our division-by-division breakdown, starting with what should be an improved Atlantic Division.

Toronto has won three consecutive Atlantic titles and comes off the best season in its franchise history. Despite this, the Raptors are 5-to-4 to win the division, while the Celtics are 10-to-11 and have had their win total set at 51.5.

Despite winning 56 games last season, the Raptors number has been set at 49.5. The Knicks and 76ers are both expected to be improved, while the Nets have the lowest projected win total in the entire league and may replace Philly as the NBA’s laughingstock. Here’s a look at how the teams stack up, listed in their projected order of finish.

Toronto Raptors (49.5)

The Raptors took some major steps this past May, winning their first playoff series since ’01 and advancing to the conference finals for the first time in their history. They won Game 7s over Indiana and Miami to wrap up a season where they racked up an all-time best 56 victories. Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas each participated in the Rio Olympics, but that might come back to bite this group since there’s a risk their legs won’t be there down the stretch.

Losing Biyombo hurts, but Toronto hopes Jared Sullinger and rookie Jakob Poeltl can soften that blow and are counting on DeMarre Carroll, Terrence Ross and Norman Powell continuing to hold down the spot on the wing opposite DeRozan. Although I like Toronto to win its fourth straight Atlantic Division title, I think they’ll fall just short of the second 50-win season in franchise history.

Boston Celtics (51.5)

Winning the Al Horford sweepstakes kept the Celtics from coming up empty in what was always going to be a critical offseason for Danny Ainge, but the major splash of acquiring a Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook no thanks to all of their assets never came to fruition.

Instead, guys who heard their names being shopped in trade rumors like Marcus Smart and Jae Crowder will now have to play major roles, while athletic draft picks Jaylen Brown and Demetrius Jackson could get an opportunity to make an impact immediately.

Oddsmakers have been big believers in Brad Stevens and this team for the past year-plus and have committed themselves into making them the East’s top threat to Cleveland’s throat. Still, Boston hasn’t won 50 games in a season since 2011 and may wind up disappointing backers even if it racks up another successful season. Ride with the under here.

New York Knicks (38.5)

Phil Jackson finally has assembled a Knicks team capable of making the playoffs. It’s going to take newcomers Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose staying healthy enough to be the driving force in leading an improved supporting cast for Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis that also includes Courtney Lee, Brandon Jennings and Spain’s Willy Hernangomez, but there’s finally enough talent on board for New Yorkers to get excited about.

New head coach Jeff Hornacek will also provide a major upgrade on the bench, so the call here is to take a shot that they’ll at least break through enough to notch only the fourth season with a record of .500 or better since 2001 to flirt with a return to the playoffs.

Philadelphia 76ers (27.5)

There’s a lot to get excited about if you’re the 76ers, who added the top prospect available in the draft in Australian forward Ben Simmons, who has already demonstrating special passing skills and instincts that you can’t teach.

Dario Saric, who shined at the Olympics for Croatia, is also on board, while 7-footer Joel Embiid is expected to play, albeit with restrictions that should see him sit out parts of all back-to-backs. There still isn’t a legitimate starting point guard on the roster, an issue mitigated some by Simmons’ playmaking skills, but until they get quality backcourt play, Philly will continue to be among the East’s worst teams.

Expect growth but, considering they won only 10 games last season, don’t get carried away with expectations. Fade the 76ers getting to 28 wins, a figure they haven’t surpassed since 2012-13.

Brooklyn Nets (20.5)

The Nets have replaced the Sixers as the low man on the NBA’s totem pole despite winning more than double the amount of games Philly managed to last season. Of course, that win total (21) is about the same as was projected here, but there’s little to get excited about as the Long Island-born Kenny Atkinson takes over in his first head coaching stint.

Jeremy Lin is likely to start at the point, but rookies Isaiah Whitehead and Yogi Ferrell may see extended minutes as Brooklyn looks to develop talent, something they’ve been unable to do during Mikhail Prokhorov’s regime.

Brook Lopez, the lone All-Star talent on the roster, will have to stay healthy to help avoid finishing with the league’s best record. Despite a reputation of being injury-prone, he’s actually played 72 or more games in 6 of his 8 seasons. Still, it’s hard to feel good about backing them to avoid a 60-loss season.

About the Author

Tony Mejia

Tony Mejia has been a national sportswriter for nearly two decades and has covered NBA and college basketball as a columnist, analyst, handicapper, and bracketologist for CBS Sports, Pro Basketball News, and numerous other sites.

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