The best division in the NBA this season will be the Central. The Western Conference is better than the Eastern Conference, but this division could quite possibly provide five playoff teams plus a conference champion. There’s a very high ceiling in place for the Central this season and that’s what has professional NBA betting analysts so excited about this part of the Association.
1. Indiana Pacers
Odds To Win Central Division: +108
The Pacers will finish first because they have the deepest and most balanced team in the division. Chicago’s going to be really good as long as Derrick Rose is playing well, but Indiana is the team that’s best built for any situation and any style of play. The Pacers can mix and match combinations with every other team in the league, with the possible exception of Oklahoma City. The Pacers can go big or small, play fast or slow, and win with either shotmaking skill or rugged defense. Roy Hibbert, David West, and Luis Scola give them size and power with enough scoring punch to keep opposing big men honest. Their perimeter game with Paul George, Lance Stephenson, and George Hill is certainly credible, with George becoming a legitimate superstar in the league. If Danny Granger – injured last season and unable to play at all during the playoffs – can heal up in much the same way that Rose is trying to do with the Bulls, the Pacers should be really hard to deal with. This team played the Miami Heat on very even terms in a seven-game playoff series this past spring, and had the Pacers not botched a defensive assignment at the end of Game 1, they might have been able to win the series in six games. The Pacers can play defense as well as the Chicago Bulls, knocking back their rivals from the Windy City this season.
2. Chicago Bulls
Odds To Win Central Division: -115
The Bulls hope Derrick Rose can be at his best, or at least very close to it. If the superstar is able to fully bounce back from the injury that wiped out his 2012-2013 season, the Bulls can indeed be great. Everyone knows how well this team plays on defense under head coach Tom Thibodeau. Everyone knows how good Joakim Noah is as a defender. Everyone knows how hard the Bulls play on every possession in every game. The question mark is Rose. If he answers the call, this team can be a champion. If Rose isn’t able to withstand the punishment of a full season, Chicago will fall short. This is why Indiana probably deserves the benefit of the doubt.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers
Odds To Win Central Division: +1400
Kyrie Irving, with Dion Waiters and now Jarrett Jack, gives Cleveland a lot of scoring options, enough to outpace the Detroit Pistons in the race for third place and, most likely, one of the final three playoff spots in the East.
4. Detroit Pistons
Odds To Win Central Division: +1700
Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings are now in Detroit. This was a bad team last season and basketball betting fans know that they will be much better this season… but will Smith and Jennings be good enough to create a substantial transformation? They’ll improve Detroit, but not by as much as some people think.
5. Milwaukee Bucks
Odds To Win Central Division: +13500
Without Jennings and Monta Ellis, it’s hard to see where or how this team will score enough to win. Of all the teams in the Central, the Bucks are the team that’s least likely to make the playoffs.