Eastern Conference Season Preview: Over/Under Win Totals


Approximately 1,532 reasons exist to be excited about the 2014-2015 NBA season.  We are coming off an NBA finals where San Antonio so thoroughly whipped the Miami Heat that LeBron James had to leave town.  The Eastern Conference, once the laughing-stock of the league, looks to be much improved this season. Heck, the eighth seed may even have a winning record this year. There may be less drama in the West, we all know the Spurs or Thunder will be in the Finals, but there is no shortage of superstars.

How can we get a feel for the entire league?  Who can we look to for the best season predictions?  Why, Vegas, of course.  What follows is the 2014-15 NBA over/under spectacular. Over/under’s are simple. The brilliant Vegas minds have set a number of season wins they believe will draw equal action from both sides, which is to say, the same amount of people think the team could win more game, or less.  For example, the Hornets over/under is 45 ½ games.  If you think they win 46+ you go with the over; 45 or less and you take the under.

I am joined by Swarm and Sting’s Andrew Snyder, and we’ve decided to go Eastern Conference first and will bring you the Western Conference Thursday.  On with the show….

Sep 29, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Jeff Teague (0) talks to members of the media during the Atlanta Hawks media day at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Hawks – 40.5 wins

Adam:  Over. With Al Horford returning to the lineup, I expect the Hawks to increase their win total from last season and potentially compete for the Southeast Division title.

Andrew: Over. With Horford back and the emergence of Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap last season, the Hawks should surpass last season’s win total and return to the playoffs.

X Factor: We know that Horford and Millsap are All-Star-caliber players. The player with the most at stake is Jeff Teague. If he is able to take another step forward offensively, watch out.

Boston Celtics – 26.5 wins

Adam: Under. The Celtics need Rajon Rondo to win games and be competitive this season. As it turns out, he broke his hand and may miss the start of the season. Uh-oh.

Andrew: Over. I have too much faith in Brad Stevens as a coach. While other teams will engage in Tankapalooza Part 2: Electric Boogaloo, the Celtics will play to in every night. Having a nice little core of role players including Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger, and Jeff Green will also help.

X Factor: Marcus Smart will be the key to the season. Rondo is currently injured, and may end up being traded. Smart will have to quickly become the floor general of this team if they are going to experience any success.

Brooklyn Nets – 41.5 wins

Adam: Over. There is a lot to dislike about the Nets, but you can’t deny they have talent. Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Brook Lopez form a worthwhile trio, and new coach Lionel Hollins is an upgrade over Jason Kidd.

Andrew: Under. Lopez is an injury waiting to happen. Paul Pierce is in D.C., and Kevin Garnett is a shell of his former self. Williams and Johnson will not have the help they need to carry this team to the playoffs.

X Factor: Health. The Nets are not deep, but are old. Injuries to Lopez, Williams or Johnson could de-rail the season quickly because there is no great talent coming off the bench.

Sep 29, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (14) during Media Day at Time Warner Cable Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Charlotte Hornets – 45.5 wins

Adam: Over. With Lance Stephenson in town, and a much deeper bench, the Hornets should be able to improve on their 2013 win total of 43. If Al Jefferson stays healthy, this team can compete with anyone.

Andrew: Over. I may seem like a homer, but I have a good feeling about this Hornets squad. The addition of Stephenson improves their defense, their perimeter scoring, and turns their swag up to eleven. Expect another big year from Professor Al and improvement from Kemba Walker.

X Factor: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. If MKG can add some semblance of a jump shot, the floor will open up for himself and his teammates. An offensively competent MKG raises this team’s ceiling tremendously.

Chicago Bulls – 55.5 wins

Adam: Under. Until Derrick Rose plays a season at full strength, I will remain skeptical of the Bulls. Plus, I am not sold on Pau Gasol being the asset everyone is assuming he be to the Bulls’ moribund offense.

Andrew: Over. I keep wavering between Chicago and Cleveland for the one seed this season. I expect the Bulls to get close to 60 wins thanks to the return of Rose. They also add Gasol to the starting lineup to improve an offense that was hard to watch last season. As usual, Tom Thibodeau will have this team playing at a high level defensively, so look out. Did I just talk myself back into the Bulls as the 1 seed? I think so.

X Factor: Rose, of course. If he stays healthy, the Bulls could compete with the Cavs for the top seed in the East. If he gets hurt again, which is sadly more likely than not, Chicago is just another above-average team.

Sep 26, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) during media day at Cleveland Clinic Courts. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Cavaliers – 58.5 wins

Adam: Under. This line is incredibly tough to predict. My worries with the Cavs are small: their bench is a little old, Dion Waiters as a fourth or fifth option might not work, and the Central Division should be pretty good, so winning a bunch of games will be even more challenging.

Andrew: Under, but only slightly. I have the Cavs at exactly 58 wins. The Eastern Conference will be much improved in the middle, so though Cleveland will be dominant, they will not steamroll everyone on their way to a record-setting season. Adjusting to each other will take some get used to, even the Heat struggled when LeBron James first arrived.

X Factor: Waiters. He certainly does not lack confidence, but he has not put it all together on the floor yet during his career. If he can become a deadly fourth option, or perhaps leader of their second unit, the Cavs could be that much better.

Detroit Pistons – 36.5 wins

Adam: Under. I trust Stan Van Gundy, but I do not trust any other player on the team to get the Pistons back to the playoffs. With eight games against the Cavs and Bulls and no real point guard on the roster, this team is closer to bad than good.

Andrew: Over. Stan Van Gundy is back! One of the most emotional, sardonic, and outspoken coaches in the league returns to the NBA! Van Gundy will take over a Pistons team that was downright dysfunctional last season. They have interesting pieces. Andre Drummond is developing into a force at center, Greg Monroe has been steady, and Brandon Jennings does some nice things, though he shoots too much. If Stan Van can figure out a role for Josh Smith this could be a playoff team.

X Factor: Jennings was not very good last season, and he remains the best point guard option in Detroit. If Jennings can figure out how to play effective defense and develop into a “game manager” the Pistons could creep up on folks.

Indiana Pacers – 32.5 wins

Adam: Over. I was a little surprised by this line. The Pacers will not be very good this year, but I don’t expect them to completely bottom out. Between David West, Roy Hibbert and Frank Vogel, there is too much pride on the team to be an afterthought this season.

Andrew: Under. Secondary to the Hornets, I have been following the Pacers for a few years now. The loss of Paul George and Lance Stephenson will be too much to overcome. Having to rely on West and Hibbert offensively will not get the job done. The team lacks a primary perimeter scorer, and even though Frank Vogel will have them solid defensively, they just will not score enough.

X Factor: Hibbert. He anchors their defense and offers rim protection few can replicate. If he can repeat that performance and also turn into a reliable scorer down low the Pacers might sneak into the playoffs.

Oct 4, 2014; Louisville, KY, USA; Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh (1) shoots against New Orleans Pelicans forward Darius Miller (2) during the second half of play at KFC Yum! Center. New Orleans defeated Miami 98-86. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Heat – 43.5 wins

Adam: Over. Yes, the Heat lost LeBron James, but a squad of Dywane Wade, Chris Bosh, Luol Deng and Josh McRoberts and Mario Chalmers should make the playoffs in the East. It may take 44 wins to make it in this season.

Andrew: Over. I still like this Heat team to make the playoffs. Losing the best player in the world is not ideal, but they still have Wade and Bosh, and also add Deng, McRoberts (pour some out for our boy), and Danny Granger. They are not a title contender, but they will battle for what will be a hotly contested Southeast Division Title.

X Factor: During the last four seasons, Bosh has been the third banana on an elite basketball team. Now he will be asked to shoulder the team’s offensive burden and be a vocal team leader. Bosh has done it before, but never on a competitive team.

Milwaukee Bucks – 24.5 wins

Adam: Over. Sure, the Bucks were a disaster last season, but I like the young pieces on this team. Jabari Parker should contend for Rookie of the Year, and I foresee the Greek Freak, John Henson and Kendall Marshall to each continue getting better. Perhaps it’s wrong to trust Jason Kidd, but for some reason I do.

Andrew: Under. They are going to be bad, but not unwatchable. Kidd is not the miracle worker coach he thinks he is, but they have some nice players. Parker will make a serious rookie of the year push thanks to his NBA ready offensive game, but overall this team looks lottery bound again.

X Factor:  If Giannis Antetokounmpo can take a leap this season they could have a better season than projected. His unique blend of skill, size, and youth make him an intriguing player and one to watch as he develops throughout his career.

Apr 16, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (5) brings the ball up court during the second half against the Toronto Raptors at Madison Square Garden. New York Knicks defeat the Toronto Raptors 95-92. Mandatory Credit: Jim O

New York Knicks – 40.5 wins

Adam: Under. I respect Carmelo for shouldering the fate of this team, but the cupboard is rather bare, and I’m not convinced Derek Fisher is going adapt to coaching in the NBA with the necessary speed to right this ship. Trying to implement the triangle offense with the Knicks mediocre roster will be a challenge.

Andrew: Under. Carmelo Anthony and Jose Calderon make for an interesting pairing in Fisher’s version of Phil Jackson’s triangle offense. Carmelo may challenge for another scoring title; however, this team will be atrocious on defense and that will be their undoing.

X Factor: Tim Hardaway Jr. If the Knicks are going to compete for a playoff berth, someone must emerge and the legitimate number-two option. Hardaway Jr. was dazzling at times last season, and looking downright dominant during Summer League. Plus, he is a great kid that all Knicks fans can get behind.

Orlando Magic – 28.5 wins

Adam: Under. The Magic have some nice pieces, and I am excited about seeing Victor Oladipo, Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton grow as a unit. I’m going under because the other teams in the Southeast Division should all be pretty darn good.

Andrew: Under. Payton, Oladipo, and Gordon are exciting young players, but they are primarily defense first guys right now. They will have to develop their offensive games before becoming a team worthy of playoff contention. They may have some fun moments, but no real success.

X Factor: Nikola Vucevic is a double-double machine and should anchor the Magic offense again this season. If he can sprinkle in some defense while keeping up his offensive performance will help their outlook.

Philadelphia 76ers – 15.5 wins

Adam: Under. Vegas is begging bettors to take the under. All self-respecting NBA teams should be able to win at least 16 games. But these 76ers are very bad. I’m not convinced Michael Carter-Williams will ever be an above-average player in the league, and their second best player, Nerlens Noel, has never played in a real NBA game. Please, 76ers, surprise me.

Andrew: Over. They can’t really only when 15 games, right? Right? RIGHT! This team is going to be all kinds of bad. If you happen to accidentally land on one of their games while scrolling through League Pass your cable company should give you a refund. Let’s see how many Sixers I can name of the top of my head. Carter-Williams, Tony Wroten, Noel, Joel Embiid, K.J. McDaniels…that’s all I’ve got. (Editor’s note: See a full list here).

X Factor: I sincerely can’t think of one, so I’ll go with Nerlens Noel’s restructured ACL. If Noel stays healthy, then perhaps the 76ers will actually win some games.

Oct 5, 2014; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas (17) pressures the Toronto Raptors during the first half at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Raptors – 49.5 wins

Adam: Over. Not only do I think the Raptors will hit the over, I think the Raptors may even finish the season second in the East. The Raptors return virtually the exact team as last season, and have several rising stars looking to build on last season’s success. Throw in four games each against Philly and Boston, and I think the Raptors can keep the good times rolling in the Great White North.

Andrew: Under. Last year’s unexpected three seed will not be repeated. I do not see Kyle Lowry replicating last season or DeMar DeRozan continuing to be this good without any kind of outside game. They will be good and definitely a playoff team, but in a stronger Eastern Conference I cannot see them finishing third again.

X Factor: Jonas Valanciunas looked good in spurts last season averaging 11.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. At only 22 years old he is still developing and if he can improve upon last season’s success look out.

Washington Wizards – 49.5 wins

Adam: Under. I like the Wiz. John Wall and Bradley Beal are a crazy-exciting duo, and Paul Pierce has evolved into the aged vet everyone loves. But I do not love the Wiz, and I do not think they will be six wins better this season than last season.

Andrew: Over. I really like this Wizards team. They may have lost Trevor Ariza, but they add cagey veteran and former NBA Champion Paul Pierce. Wall and Beal are becoming one of the best backcourts in the NBA and should only get better with time. Add Nene and Marcin Gortat bullying opponents around in the post and you have yourself a nice starting five. This team will compete for the Southeast Division as well as the 3 seed. They are my dark horse team in the East to make a surprise run to the Finals.

X Factor: Paul Pierce. After letting Ariza leave during free agency, the Wizards now must rely heavily on Pierce to fill the void. How much does the Truth have left in the tank?