For the last eight years, LeBron has guided his Eastern Conference team to the NBA Finals, winning the championship on three occasions. Now that he’s moved to the Los Angeles Lakers to add to his Hall of Fame resume, the Boston Celtics have emerged as the favorites to make it to the finals, per Forbes. But, there’s a sense of optimism among many teams in the east, particularly those in the Atlantic Division, that they can now have a shot at the championship, most likely taking on the eternally powerful Golden State Warriors to do so.
As a show of how optimistic all of the top eastern teams are, the Philadelphia 76ers traded for All-Star forward Jimmy Butler of the Minnesota Timberwolves, joining the likes of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons to form their new big three. The trade cost the 76ers a 2022 second-round pick, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless, and Robert Covington while they also received Justin Patton, as reported by ESPN.
But, do the 76ers, adding another All-Star to their line-up, enhance their odds of coming out of the Eastern Conference as NBA finalists, or is there simply too much competition to contend with right now?
Toronto Raptors going all-out
After taking the Toronto Raptors to the peak of the Eastern Conference with a 59-23 record, Dwane Casey’s team inevitably fell to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the postseason. Following this, the Raptors opted for a change at head coach after Casey’s seven-seasons of building which culminated in this franchise-record season. Casey’s firing came just two days before he would be named the league’s coach of the year, according to the New York Times. So, with the job handed to Nick Nurse, people expected the team to drop off, somewhat, this season.
But, something that has seemingly helped the Raptors to take that extra step forward and look to capitalize on the James-less conference is the high-risk trade for Kawhi Leonard with the San Antonio Spurs, sending fan-favorite DeMar DeRozan the other way. It was the story of the summer, with many analyzing its long-term implications but, for this season at least, the Raptors have a player who has greatly benefitted from a change of scenery, per The Sportster. At the 15-game mark, Leonard averaged 24.2 points, 1.7 steals, 6.5 defensive rebounds, and 2.4 turnovers per game through 11 starts.
Boston star unfazed by Butler move
From the start of the season, the Boston Celtics have been the favorites from the Eastern Conference to go on to the NBA Finals. When healthy, they are one of, if not the deepest team in the NBA, making them the conference’s most formidable foe for the Warriors. With an 8-6 start, they’re off of the pace set by the Toronto Raptors, but in the NBA, as long as a team makes it to the playoffs, they can overcome their regular season record to come out on top.
Star point guard of the Boston Celtics, Kyrie Irving, was posed the question as to how the Jimmy Butler trade impacts the battle in the Atlantic Division. With the Philadelphia 76ers on 9-7 at the time, it could be seen that one new star player might take them past the Celtics. But, at this stage in the season, Irving simply responded: “Who cares, honestly? It’s still so early,” as reported by Celtics Wire.
Did the Butler trade influence the Atlantic Division?
The Boston Celtics boast a remarkably talented and deep team, and the Toronto Raptors are tearing away from the rest of the Atlantic Division, so it would be understandable for neither team to be overly fazed by the Philadelphia 76ers trading for another star player. As deliberated by the NBA Blogtable, experts see the deal as tightening the group, but not enough to push Philly into being true contenders just yet.
The Philadelphia 76ers were a dark horse to make it to the NBA Finals from the start of the season, lining up just ahead of or alongside the Milwaukee Bucks. As of November 15th, with the trade done and dusted, Betway has the 76ers at +400 to win the conference, with the Celtics at +187.50 and the Raptors at +150. While it was, without a doubt, a huge trade in the NBA, in the eyes of the experts, it’s still not enough to push the 76ers ahead of the Celtics or the Raptors as leading contenders for the Eastern Conference.
It may, however, set the wheels in motion for the 76ers to become a super-team next summer, potentially paving the way for them to lead the conference over the next couple of seasons. As explained by Fadeaway World, the Sixers could make a move for pending 2019 free agent Kyrie Irving, should they play their cards right.
If this were to happen, it would be difficult to see any other team coming close in their star power. Only time will tell if the Butler trade has been as influential as it has been suggested, and it may be that it takes until the next year or so before the full effects are seen.
The 25 Day Plan That Could Bring Back NBA Betting This Summer
Hope is not lost when it comes to pro basketball returning. Above all the NBA is not yet ready to give up on resuming the 2019-20 season. May, June or even July is a possibility for the NBA’s return. Of course, much of this will ride on where things will stand with the coronavirus crisis. Health and government officials will have to give the OK. But to the NBA’s credit, they are already preparing on how they will pick up the pieces if given clearance. For those wanting a return of NBA betting the good news is that the Association has too much to lose with a cancelation.
While politically correct virtue signaling is part of any PR effort for a return there are some hard numbers to consider. In this case, there is a harsh reality that will force commissioner Adam Silver and owners such as Mark Cuban to fight to the death to save the season. Due to its massive television contracts with ESPN and TNT, the NBA stands to lose an estimated $1 billion in revenue if the season is lost. Thus, the formulation of an emergency plan to re-open play just as soon as possible.
The 25 Day Plan
On the whole, the Association’s 25-day play would encompass testing, social distancing, and then a 14-day training camp. All games would likely take place at a single quarantined site with no fans. Las Vegas is the likely venue for the NBA’s return. Cause by the NBA using Sin City for its summer league along with numerous suitable courts and plentiful luxury hotels. Since the majority of NBA revenue is from TV the fact that there would be no fans, while painful, is not of primary concern. Losing the TV money is the ultimate nightmare scenario.
Schedule and Playoff Possibilities
As far as the online sportsbook schedule there may be some regular-season games played before the playoffs. Another possibility is that there could be expanded playoffs with no regular season. Perhaps a preliminary round of marginal teams would be played first. For example, teams in seventh through tenth place in each conference could play a best of three series with winners advancing to the regular eight-team playoffs that would follow. Also, it’s possible that the season could extend all the way to September and the start of the NFL.
One thing that NBA fans and gamblers have on their side, to the astonishment of many, is United States President Donald Trump. The President has consistently stated at recent press conferences that he wants sports to return as soon as possible. Trump is pressing for a return of American commerce in all of its forms and won’t let up. Furthermore, Trump understands that sports will be a tremendous morale boost to a country in pain. He has met with all of the professional sports commissioners and has his coronavirus task force working towards solutions to bring sports back.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver is one of the savviest marketing leaders not just in sports but in all of business. Silver stated his desire to Trump that he wants the NBA to take the lead in bringing back business and a sense of normalcy to American life. Silver is another asset that will make it more possible for action at betting sites for NBA later this summer. Accordingly, he knows he and the Association will be heroes for returning. More emphatically the NBA can do more for American happiness and morale than practically anything else.
In turn, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is another fighter on the side of fans and gamblers. Cuban has joined Trump’s blue-ribbon panel that is tasked with working in sync with health officials to get the economy jumpstarted again. So too has Cuban been adamant about the NBA having no choice but to return.
Failure is Not an Option
Silver has bought himself plenty of time and has not put a hard deadline in place. For this reason, there is a realistic hope that the NBA will do everything possible to return to action this summer. Consider the alternative, which is no alternative at all.
Updates on Cancelled and Postponed Basketball Events
NBA suspension continues until further notice
On March 11th, Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz announced that he tested positive for the Covid-19 virus, prompting league officials to suspend league play for the remainder of the 2020/21 season until further notice. This includes all playoff games. Two days later, on March 12th, fellow Jazz player Donovan Mitchell also announced a positive diagnosis for the virus.
Since their announcements, at least 12 additional NBA players, and 1 team owner have tested positive for Covid-19. Among those infected are:
- Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets
- Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics
- Christian Wood of the Detroit Pistons
- James Dolan, owner of the New York Knicks
Unnamed players testing positive for the virus include 3 from the Brooklyn Nets, 2 from the Los Angeles Lakers, 1 from the Denver Nuggets, and 3 from the Philadelphia 76ers. Christian Wood has made a full recovery. Kevin Durant, as well as 5 unnamed players have been reported as symptom-free. Marcus Smart, Rudy Gobert, and Donovan Mitchell have all been cleared by Doctors. There has been no update as to the status of James Dolan, or the remaining 4 confirmed unnamed players.
As of now, the 2020 NBA Draft is still scheduled to take place June 25th at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York. However, as New York has been declared the epicenter of the coronavirus in the United States, it is highly likely those plans will be amended prior to Draft day. It is probable that the NBA will follow the WNBA’s example, and hold this year’s draft “virtually.”
WNBA postpones start of 2020 season indefinitely
On April 3rd, WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert released a statement announcing the postponement of all pre-season training camps. Team training camps were scheduled to begin on April 26th. In that same statement, it was further announced that the regular season opener scheduled for May 15th would also be postponed until further notice.
Commissioner Engelbert went on to say: “While the league continues to use this time to conduct scenario-planning regarding new start dates and innovative formats, our guiding principle will continue to be the health and safety of the players, fans and employees.”
Sydney Wiese of the Los Angeles Sparks is thus far the only confirmed case of Covid-19 among active players in the WNBA. Wiese had spent the winter playing basketball in Spain, and tested positive for the virus upon her return to the United States. According to a statement released by the Sparks, Wiese is “in positive spirits and feeling fine. She’s been in self-isolation at home in Phoenix since her return and is encouraging everyone to practice social distancing to help prevent the spread of the virus.”
Theresa Plaisance of the Connecticut Sun also took ill this past December while playing basketball in China. Plaisance was initially diagnosed with pneumonia, as well as an “unknown virus.” It is now believed that Plaisance may have contracted Covid-19. She recovered fully from her illness prior to returning to the United States.
The 2020 WNBA Draft will take place on April 17th as originally planned. However, the Draft will be held virtually.
NCAA cancels 2020 March Madness Tournament
Following the postponement of all NBA league play on March 11th, the NCAA announced one day later on March 12th that the 2020 March Madness Tournament would be canceled. This marks the first time the tournament has been canceled for any reason in it’s 81 year history, and effectively ended the 2019/20 NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball seasons.
The Ivy League had already announced the cancellation of their championship tournament. On March 10th, the Ivy League awarded the 2019/20 championship to Yale based upon regular season performances.
2020 Summer Olympics rescheduled for 2021
On March 24th, in a joint statement, President Thomas Bach of the International Olympic Committee, and Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo announced that the 2020 Summer Olympic Games “must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021.” This year’s Olympic Games were originally scheduled to begin on July 24th in Tokyo, Japan.
Since the initial announcement last month, it has been confirmed that the Summer Games are now scheduled to begin on July 23, 2021. The Olympic flame will remain in Japan until the games begin next year. The name “Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games” will also remain in use next year.
This marks the first time the Olympics have been cancelled since 1940, when both the Winter and Summer Games were put on hiatus due to the escalation of World War 2. Ironically enough, the Olympic Games originally planned for 1940 were also scheduled to be held in Japan.
During the pandemic you can always watch basketball sports events in VR.
Can LeBron and the LA Lakers Bring it Home in 2019/2020?
LeBron James is smiling all the way to the bank with an estimated net worth of $480 million, and a salary of $100 million per year. standing 6’9″ tall this NBA superstar, TV producer, voice actor, and screenwriter has everything going for him. His $40 million per year salary from the NBA is supplemented by endorsements valued at $55 million a year, for a massive haul of $100 million per annum in income.
In his first 10 years as a professional player, he earned $452 million, and at last count his total career earnings exceeded $600 million before taxes. Among the many companies that have endorsed him include Coca-Cola, Baskin-Robbins, Nike, Microsoft, McDonald’s, State Farm, and Beats by Dre. He’s still a long way away from billionaire status like Michael Jordan ($1.9 billion), but given his huge talent, he’ll get there soon enough, maybe even with the LA Lakers!
March Madness Ahead for LA Lakers
In 2019/2020, James has already played in 51+ games for the LA Lakers, scoring 25 points on average, with 7.8 rebounds, and 6.8 assists. The current squad includes the likes of Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Anthony Davis, Alex Caruso, Talen Horton-Tucker, JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo, Jared Dudley, Avery Bradley, Devontae Cacok, Danny Green, DeMarcus Cousins, LeBron James, Quinn Cook, Troy Daniels, Kostas Antetokounmpo, and Dwight Howard. The team is coached by Frank Vogel, and owned by the Jerry Buss Family Trust.
The LA Lakers performed exceptionally well in the Western Conference, leading the pack as the #1 team. They’ve currently won 41 games, lost 12, with a win percent ratio of 0.774 (Friday, 21 February 2020). The Conference Performance reads 28-6, their home record 18-7, and their away record 23-5. Their closest competition at this point in time in the Western Conference comes from the Denver Nuggets, and the Los Angeles Clippers both of which are experiencing losses heading into the last weekend of the month. The LA Lakers face the following teams in March:
- LA Lakers versus Pelicans – Sunday, 1 March at 8 PM
- 76ers versus LA Lakers – Tuesday, 3 March at 10 PM
- Bucks versus LA Lakers – Friday, 6 March at 10:30 PM
- LA Lakers versus Clippers – Sunday, 8 March at 3:30 PM
- Nets versus LA Lakers – Tuesday, 10 March at 10:30 PM
- Rockets versus LA Lakers – Thursday, 12 March at 10:30 PM
- Nuggets versus LA Lakers – Sunday, 15 March at 9 PM
- LA Lakers versus Jazz – Monday, 16 March at 9 PM
- Jazz versus LA Lakers – Wednesday 18 March at 10 PM
- LA Lakers versus Hornets – Saturday, 21 March at 7 PM
- LA Lakers versus Pistons – Sunday, 22 March at 6 PM
- LA Lakers versus Raptors – Tuesday, 24 March at 7:30 PM
- LA Lakers versus Cavaliers – Thursday, 26 March at 7 PM
- LA Lakers versus Wizards – Saturday, 28 March at 8 PM
- LA Lakers versus Timberwolves – Monday, 30 March at 8 PM
The current Los Angeles Lakers stats (courtesy of NBA advanced stats) indicate that the team is currently #7 in the PPG, #7 in the RPG, #4 in the APG, and #7 in the OPG, with a record of 41-12 (.774). The team is ranked #1 in the Western Conference and #1 in the Pacific Division. The top online bookmakers are pretty clear about how strong the LA Lakers are doing. For example, 888sport NJ NBA odds have the LA Lakers as near favorites to win the championship at +300.
Other leading bookmakers have the LA Lakers at odds of 9/4 to win the 2019/2020 NBA finals taking place on June 15, 2020. Next in line are the Milwaukee Bucks at odds of 11/4, and the Los Angeles Clippers and odds of 3/1. Clearly, LeBron James & company rank among the big guns to bring it home, in the top 5 teams to win the NBA finals. Either way, it’s going to be a tough road ahead for the Bucks, Lakers, and Clippers in futures betting.