Brooklyn Nets Not Yet The Team To Beat in the NBA Eastern Conference

The winning streak is now at 12, and three more would set a new team record.

But the sportsbooks say the Brooklyn Nets are still not the team to beat in the East, even though they have the second-shortest championship odds of any team in the NBA.

The Nets began Tuesday priced at +600 to win the NBA championship and +240 to win the Atlantic Division. That’s despite trailing the Boston Celtics by just a single game after their 36-point beatdown of the San Antonio Spurs on Monday night. Gregg Popovich’s team is making its annual sojourn to the Big Apple, and Pop attends wine auctions while waiting to play the Knicks on Wednesday night.

If Brooklyn is going to set the team record of 15 consecutive wins, they’ll need to do it with road wins at Chicago, New Orleans, and Miami over the remainder of this week while the Celtics are on a four-game Western trip.

But if they keep getting contributions like this one from Kyrie Irving, we may see those prices flipped in the next two weeks.

While You Were Watching A Football Tragedy …

The NBA had a bit of an epic night Monday. Most eyes were glued to the Buffalo-Cincinnati Monday Night Football game that was suspended because of the collapse of Bills safety Damar Hamlin. But in Cleveland, Donovan Mitchell scored 71, and in San Francisco, the Warriors had an epic double-overtime victory over the Hawks and got 54 points from Klay Thompson. In Charlotte LeBron James was ageless again with 43 points in the Lakers’ win over the Hornets, and in Houston, Luka Dončić furthered his case for MVP by dropping 36 on the Rockets for his sixth straight game of at least 30 points.

In Brooklyn, the Nets simply dismantled Pop’s young Spurs team, scoring 74 first-half points and getting Kevin Durant’s 30th game with at least 30 points. They did so in improving to 23-7 under head coach Jacque Vaughn, who now is the +225 second choice to win Coach of the Year, trailing only Boston’s Joe Mazzulla.

“It felt like 2K honestly,” Ben Simmons said of Irving’s dunk. “I didn’t know he could do that.”

Doubt Irving at your own peril, as we have explained before on this site.

“I’m like this close to getting tired of people downplaying my athleticism at times in that locker room. I’m like this close,” Irving told reporters after scoring a game-high 27 points. Hey, like him or not, the guy still has hops and handles.

The Nets, who were 9-11 and 11th in the Eastern Conference on Nov. 25, have climbed to 25-12. Brooklyn, Boston and Milwaukee are now the top three choices to win the 2023 NBA championship, and the team with the shortest odds in the West is now the Golden Sate Warriors, despite their ninth-place standing in the conference.

Clearly, the sportsbooks are favoring the teams laden with veterans, even if they are currently hurt (Steph Curry). The first-in-the-West Denver Nuggets are +1200, along with the second-place Memphis Grizzlies, and the odds of those two teams just making the NBA Finals for the first time in either franchise’s history is priced at +500 (Denver) and +550 (Memphis).

The Nets have not made the NBA Finals since Jason Kidd was their leader back in 2003. But they have recovered superbly from the early-season dysfunction that led to the firing of coach Steve Nash and owner Joe Tsai’s dalliance with hiring suspended Boston coach Ime Udoka, events that turned the Nets into a sideshow in the league’s largest market.

Brooklyn led by as many as 14 in the first quarter and 28 in the second. The Nets reached triple digits in the third quarter and ended the period up 31, allowing Irving and Kevin Durant to become spectators for the entire fourth quarter.

“We can’t have trap games,” said Simmons, who had all nine of his assists in the first half. “We know coming into a game like this, these guys are younger, they’re hungry. Everyone competes. So for us, we got to step it up.”

How Long Will This Streak Last?

The NBA record for consecutive victories is held by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers with 33, and somebody will put up a line on whether that will fall if the Nets get their streak into the 20s. But the mindset in the 82-game slog of a regular season is to take ’em one at a time, and the Bulls are coming off consecutive losses to the Cavs that have left them tied with Toronto for 11th in the East.

Sportsbooks in the United States do not take action on the next coach to be fired. But offshores do, and Billy Donovan may end up taking the fall in the Windy City if the Bulls cannot recover some semblance of the form that had them winning five of six before they ran across Mitchell and the Cavs. The last time these teams met, Nash had just been fired, and Zach LaVine dropped 20 in the fourth quarter at the Barclays Center to drop Brooklyn to 2-6.

Since then, the Nets have gone 23-6.

“We show up, we play,” Vaughn said of his team, which has not lost since Dec. 4 against Boston. “Whoever’s going to play, we hoop out.”

From a wagering perspective, here are a couple things to know about the Nets:

  • They have covered the spread in five of their last six, and they have been moneyline winners the two times during the win streak that they have been underdogs, vs. Indiana and Cleveland.
  • They have gone over in eight of the 12 games, and since Dec. 21 they have defeated the Warriors by 30, the Bucks by 18, the Cavs by 8, the Hornets by 17. If you are looking at wagering on them against Chicago, it may be the right time to check alternate point spreads. As an example, Sacramento is a 3-point dog against a fading Utah Jazz squad tonight. The Kings giving 7 1/2 points pays +310, which may be more appealing than a +135 moneyline bet.
  • Brooklyn is 10-3 on the road vs. East teams, and Durant is sixth in ppg (29.6) and third in total points (1,064), trailing only Dončić (1,201) and Jayson Tatum (1,080). FanDuel and PointsBet have him on the board at +850 to win MVP, while others have lowered those odds to +650 (New Yorkers need to cross state lines to make that wager).
  • A $10 wager under the Big Mac strategy (forsake the Bic Mac Meal and make a wager instead) on the Nets to win the NBA championship and the Giants to win the Super Bowl pays $4,270. Would make for a nice June if it hits.

The post Brooklyn Nets Not Yet The Team To Beat in the NBA Eastern Conference appeared first on