Nets Favorites To Win NBA Eastern Conference With Harden

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By Mark Strotman

The Brooklyn Nets were already well positioned to compete in the Eastern Conference with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving leading the way. But they’ve gone from legitimate contender to a sports betting favorite after last week’s blockbuster acquisition of three-time scoring champion and 2019 MVP James Harden.

Top New Jersey sports betting sites wasted no time shrinking Brooklyn’s odds to win its first Eastern Conference title since 2003, shrinking from +250 to +125 to now +110.

Nets’ Big 3 Best in NBA

The Lakers’ LeBron James and Anthony Davis are the defending champs, while combinations such as Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo/Khris Middleton and the Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard/Paul George are formidable duos with championship potential. But there isn’t a three-headed monster in the league that comes close to what Durant/Harden/Irving bring to the table.

Durant is averaging 30.8 points on 53.3% from the field and better than 45% from beyond the arc. Harden is entering the prime of his career, and though he had a turbulent start in Houston this season, he has already logged games of 44 points and 17 assists (with the Rockets) and 32 points, 12 rebounds and 14 assists (in his debut with the Nets).

Irving has been a headcase in Year 2 with the Nets – he missed six games for personal reasons – but his on-court production is undeniable: 28.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game.

The rest of the roster isn’t outstanding. but it wasn’t gutted in the Harden trade, which sent heaps of draft picks to Houston as the main part of the deal. Though Brooklyn’s depth will miss Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince, players such as Joe Harris, Jeff Green, and DeAndre Jordan give first-year head coach Steve Nash enough to work with as a supporting cast to his dominant trio.


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Early Returns Look Solid

It was just one game, but the Durant/Harden combination was lethal in a win over the Magic on Jan. 16. Durant had 42 points on 16-of-26 shooting, while Harden had a 30-point triple-double, the first time a player had debuted with that stat line in NBA history.

That all happened without Irving, who has played second fiddle before in his time with LeBron James and the Cavaliers. This offense is going to be dynamic with three of the great scorers in the league.

Playoff Experience Key for Nets

Regardless of what the Nets do in the regular season, their title as favorite in the East is due to the Big 3’s playoff success. Durant is a two-time Finals MVP, Irving has perhaps the most clutch Finals shot in NBA history and Harden averaged 28.4 points in eight playoff seasons with the Rockets. They won’t be fazed in the playoffs, and they have 60+ regular season games to gain chemistry that has them ready for a deep postseason run. That’s why the Nets’ NBA betting odds were slashed so quickly.

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Mark Strotman
Mark Strotman is a veteran sports journalist who has covered the Chicago Bulls and the NBA for NBC Sports Chicago for about 8 years. His work has also appeared on ESPN.com, FoxSports.com, The Chicago Tribune, Yahoo Sports and NBC Sports. He covered the NBA Playoffs in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017 as well as Team USA Basketball in 2014 and 2016. He has also covered high school football and was nominated for a Midwest Emmy in 2016 for his work on a documentary featuring local Chicago product and NFL prospect Miles Boykin.
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Mark Strotman is a veteran sports journalist who has covered the Chicago Bulls and the NBA for NBC Sports Chicago for about 8 years. His work has also appeared on ESPN.com, FoxSports.com, The Chicago Tribune, Yahoo Sports and NBC Sports. He covered the NBA Playoffs in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017 as well as Team USA Basketball in 2014 and 2016. He has also covered high school football and was nominated for a Midwest Emmy in 2016 for his work on a documentary featuring local Chicago product and NFL prospect Miles Boykin.
... Read More