NBA fans got a good scare last week when it looked like the playoffs might be dead in the water. But after a few days off, the games began Saturday anew. Milwaukee finished off Orlando to take its spot in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, which started on Sunday with the Boston Celtics winning one over the Toronto Raptors.
With the final four in the East in place, it sounds like a good time to address who will win the Eastern Conference this season odds (via Bovada.lv):
2020 Eastern Conference Winner Odds
- Milwaukee Bucks -115
- Toronto Raptors +350
- Boston Celtics +255
- Miami Heat +800
It should come as no surprise that the Bucks are the favorite. They were the most dominant team during the regular season on both ends of the court. They were far from dominant during the seeding games, but they didn’t need to be.
While the Magic gave them a scare with a win in Game One, they went on to win the next four by double digits.
Their opponents in the semis, the Miami Heat, had a relatively easy time in their opening round taking down the Indiana Pacers in four. While they did take down the Bucks the one time, they played during the regular season, 105-89.
But is it realistic to think the Heat can control Giannis Antetokounmpo for four games as they did in that one? Probably not.
The Toronto-Boston series looks like it will be the more competitive of the two. While the odds favor the Raptors, the Celtics dominated Game One on Sunday. Is that a sign of things to come, or can we just chalk that one up to the Raptors stars having incredibly bad days from the floor?
Game Two will give us some indication of how that will go. But as good as the Celtics are, the Raptors were not expected to sweep the Celtics anyway. Sportsbooks now have the Celtics favored to win the Series, but that could easily change with a dominant win by Toronto in Game Two.
So, who Milwaukee will likely face in the Eastern Conference Finals remains to be seen, but if the odds are any indication—does it matter? Many fans would say no, but it is worth mentioning that the sentiment was the same before last season’s conference finals.
Both Toronto and Boston are capable of playing the kind of defense that can give the Bucks fits. But can they generate the necessary offense to beat Milwaukee? In a game or two? Yes, but in a seven-game series? That’s a little harder to say.
So—who should you bet on?
The Milwaukee Bucks are the safe and obvious bet, by far. If Giannis Antetokounmpo is healthy, it will be incredibly hard to beat in a seven-game series. Could the Celtics or Raptors do it? Absolutely—but if you are going to put money on someone, the Bucks are the obvious choice.
The odds of Boston winning are not worth the risk. As strong as the Raptors have looked since the season restarted, it may be worth putting a little money on them at those odds. But it certainly not worth risking much.