Time Out: Central Division Checkup

By Alex H.

With All-Star weekend done and dusted, BettingSports.com concludes its first half review of the Eastern Conference with a look at the Central Division.

On Friday we took a look at how those teams plying their trade in the Southeast Division had fared against bookmakers’ expectations so far this season. Sunday saw us do the same for the Atlantic Division. Now we investigate how Central Division sides have fared, beginning in Indianapolis.

Indiana Pacers

Paul George and the Indiana Pacers have proved consistent throughout the first half of the season, something that hasn't eluded bookmakers.

SU: 32-21 (21-5 home, 11-16 road)

ATS: 29-24-0 (16-10-0 home, 13-14-0 road)

O/U: 22-31-0

If there’s one word that describes Indiana’s season so far, it’s consistency. The Pacers haven’t gone on long streaks (winning or losing). They haven’t played erratically one night and perfect the next. They haven’t even tried to play fast-paced basketball. Everything is deliberate and very consistent.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise then to learn that in the eyes of the bookmakers, Indiana ranks fifth in the Eastern Conference and eighth in the NBA, the same as they did at the beginning of the season.

Ahead of the season, bookmakers gave Indiana odds of 14/1 to win the Eastern Conference and 30/1 odds to win the NBA championship. Those numbers have shortened in the intervening three months or so. The Pacers are currently 10/1 to win the East and 22/1 to win it all.

Before the season got underway, Indiana and Chicago were joint favorites to win the Central Division, with odds at 10/11. With the Pacers just one game ahead of Chicago in the loss column, that tight race remains.

Chicago Bulls

SU: 30-22 (15-12 home, 15-10 road)

ATS: 22-30-0 (7-20-0 home, 15-10-0 road)

O/U: 22-30-0

Without Derrick Rose, bookmakers still liked Chicago’s chances before the season began. Bookmakers still like Chicago’s chances now.

Like Indiana, the Bulls’ place on bookmakers’ lists has not faltered. The Windy City side opened in third place to win the Eastern Conference and sixth place to win the NBA title. Those rankings remain consistent today.

Like Indiana, the Bulls have also seen their odds of winning the NBA title shorten, in this case from 18/1 to 16/1. However, unlike Indiana, Chicago’s odds of winning the Eastern Conference have slipped from 15/2 to 9/1 since the beginning of the season.

With the possibility that Derrick Rose may miss the remainder of the season, Chicago faces a tough battle, but so far the side has rolled with the challenge and has succeeded as expected.

Milwaukee Bucks

If the rumor mill is to be believed, Brandon Jennings could be soaring out of Milwaukee soon. How will that impact Milwaukee's odds?

SU: 26-25 (14-12 home, 12-13 road)

ATS: 23-27-1 (9-16-1 home, 14-11-0 road)

O/U: 25-26-0

If you need any more evidence that the Central Division is playing out just as the bookmakers expected, witness the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Bucks opened the season in ninth place of bookmakers’ lists in the Eastern Conference, and 19th place in the NBA. The Bucks have improved their rankings to eighth and 17th respectively, but their odds remain identical now to the beginning of the year.

Milwaukee is currently 66/1 to win the Eastern Conference and 150/1 to win the NBA championship. The team has been slumping of late so these static odds could see a sharp downturn shortly, unless the Bucks step things up.

Detroit Pistons

SU: 21-33 (15-15 home, 6-18 road)

ATS: 26-28-0 (14-16 home, 12-12 road)

O/U: 24-29-1

After a terrible start to the season, Detroit has evened things out somewhat, although it may already be a case of too little too late. This is reflected in the Pistons’ current odds.

Detroit opened the year with 125/1 odds of winning the Eastern Conference and 250/1 odds of winning the NBA title. Those odds now stand at 150/1 and 350/1 respectively.

Despite the lengthening odds, Detroit has improved its standing in the eyes of odds makers. The Pistons have gone from 12th to 11th in the East and 26th to 22nd in the NBA. They may only be small improvements but for this Pistons’ side, any improvement must be applauded.

It’s worth pointing out also that Detroit’s improved play of late hasn’t gone unnoticed. On Jan. 25, the Pistons had odds of 350/1 to win the Eastern Conference and 750/1 to win the NBA championship. In just three weeks those numbers have been severed.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Cleveland odds have slumped this season and with Anderson Varejao done for the season, they're not about to pick up any time soon.

SU: 16-37 (9-16 home, 7-21 road)

ATS: 26-27-0 (10-15-0 home, 16-12-0 road)

O/U: 28-25-0

There’s little for Cavalier fans, players, and bettors to get excited about when it comes to basketball in Cleveland. As well as stinking the joint out straight up, the Cavs are a nightmare to pick against the spread and in the over/under – both categories of which the side weighs in around the .500 mark.

In terms of the NBA futures, Cleveland is done. Having opened the season with 100/1 odds to win the East (11th) and 200/1 odds to win the NBA (23), the Cavaliers have slumped in terms of both their odds and their ranking with the bookmakers.

Today, Cleveland is 1000/1 to win the East (joint-13th) and 2500/1 to win the NBA (joint-26th). Here’s a team that will have its fingers crossed for a No. 1 pick in June’s Madison Square Garden draft.