Eastern Conference betting primer: Don’t overthink on Celtics

There isn’t nearly much as drama in the NBA’s Eastern Conference when compared to the parity in the West, and the Boston Celtics are a deserving odds-on favorite to reach the Finals.

The Celtics might not have the value, but they aren’t without a few options in the prop markets.

We’ll seek the best value plays as we present the odds movements, a series bet, a futures bet (team or individual) and the list of each team’s odds to win the Eastern Conference.

(Series odds per DraftKings unless otherwise noted.)

No. 1 Celtics (-3000) vs. No. 8 Heat (+1300)

Series bet: The Miami Heat, with all their culture intact but without star Jimmy Butler, are obviously very likely to find the challenge difficult when they meet the Celtics, who are 13-point favorites for Game 1.

Shop the sportsbooks to find the best number on the Celtics to win the first half of Game 1, seeking -7 or better. Boston is a strong-starting team anyway, and with the Heat traveling for a Sunday early-afternoon tip, you have two good reasons for this wager.

Futures bet: This one is pretty square. It’s Boston to win the East (-200) because the Celtics are going to be listed as much heavier favorites round over round. Let the house hold your 20 for a few weeks, ride the winner and let them pay you back with an extra 10 tacked on.

No. 2 Knicks (-115) vs. No. 7 76ers (-105)

Series bet: Philadelphia opened as a narrow favorite but the New York money quickly swung the numbers. Joel Embiid is not 100 percent and his dropoff on defense will be exploited by Jalen Brunson and his Knicks teammates. If the Sixers aim to double Brunson, the 3-point barrage will bury Philly. Donte DiVincenzo, Brunson and Miles McBride all hit 40 percent or better from long range this season.

The Knicks have long adopted the personality of their coach, Tom Thibodeau, and since Jan. 1 are No. 2 in the East in defensive rating and fourth in Effective Field Goal percentage allowed. New York is a nice value to win the series at -115.

Futures bet: Josh Hart is a healthy, active option among the candidates to lead this series in rebounding. He’s +155 at FanDuel, with only Embiid as a more popular winner (-175). Hart will have more rebound opportunities — via playing time and the opponent’s missed shots.

No. 3 Bucks (+100) vs. No. 6 Pacers (-120)

Series bet: Giannis Antetokounmpo has a three-week injury and a three-day window to find full health. That’s not happening. The Bucks opened as favorites, but DraftKings reported the Pacers money came hard with 68 percent of the bets and a whopping 79 percent of the early handle.

That trend was similar at most sportsbooks. Indiana is the series play, but in seeking a better value, we found that FanDuel offers a Game 1/Series parlay option, and our choice here is to take the Pacers at +125.

Futures bet: Pacers star Tyrese Haliburton appears to have shaken off much of the rust that followed his injury absence, and now he squares off against the defensively challenged Bucks backcourt. This could be fun. Take Haliburton at +800 (FanDuel) to score 20-plus points in every game of the series.

No. 4 Cavaliers (-185) vs. No. 5 Magic (+155)

Series bet: This is another longshot for our board. Orlando was a slightly better team than Cleveland over the season’s second half, and this Cavs team is inconsistent. The Magic can steal one in Cleveland and cap off the series with a home-court win in Game 6. Take Orlando to win exactly in six games is +500 at FanDuel.

Futures bet: The pressure is on the Cavaliers, whose puzzling season left NBA observers confused. One thing is certain: Donovan Mitchell is going hunting. His offseason could become very interesting and he is likely eager to show his team — and potential trade partners — he is worth what he is making, and more.

Mitchell is only -210 at FanDuel to lead this series in points scored, which represents value while you can get it because he already is at -300 on DraftKings.

Odds to win the Eastern Conference, per DraftKings:

Celtics -200

76ers +700

Bucks +750

Knicks +1100

Cavaliers +1800

Heat +3000

Pacers +3000

Magic +6000