NBA

NBA 2023-24 Eastern Conference Preview: Boston and the Bucks Lead the Way

The playoff picture in the Eastern Conference could look much different this year after a busy offseason.

October 4, 2023

NBA preseason is about to tip off, with the regular season not far behind. The playoff picture in the Eastern Conference could look much different this year after a busy offseason. Here are the projected regular season records and finishes for every Eastern Conference NBA team in 2023-24, as well as their win total over/unders from Tipico Sportsbook:

Boston Celtics

Projected record: 61-21 (1st in East)

2022-23 Finish: 57-25 (2nd)

The Celtics traded away fan favorites Marcus Smart and Robert Williams, as well as Malcolm Brogdon, during their busy offseason. But they got back upgrades at PG and PF/C in the form of Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis. With Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown leading the way and an improved supporting cast, Boston is poised to become the first Eastern Conference team to crack 60 wins since the 2018-19 Bucks.

Milwaukee Bucks

Projected record: 57-25 (2nd in East); Tipico over/under: 54.5 wins

2022-23 Finish: 58-24 (1st)

If Giannis Antetokounmpo is healthy, Milwaukee should remain one of the top two teams in the East. Furthermore, after acquiring Damian Lillard in a blockbuster offseason trade, the Bucks should also have an easier time winning games in which Antetokounmpo rests. Lillard is an upgrade offensively but downgrade defensively compared to Jrue Holiday. Khris Middleton will also be back to bolster the Bucks’ high-octane offense, though Milwaukee may need an early adjustment period to integrate its star acquisition.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Projected record: 54-28 (3rd in East); Tipico over/under: 50.5 wins

2022-23 Finish: 51-31 (4th)

The Cavaliers have an excellent four-player core consisting of guards Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland, plus big men Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. Offseason acquisition Max Strus should add some much-needed shooting around those four to round out the starting lineup, allowing Isaac Okoro and Caris LeVert to come off the bench. With another year of experience together, the young Cavaliers could take another step forward in 2023-24.

New York Knicks

Projected record: 50-32 (4th in East); Tipico over/under: 44.5 wins

2022-23 Finish: 47-35 (5th)

Jalen Brunson showed in the playoffs that this is his team now, averaging 27.8 PPG, 5.6 APG and 4.9 RPG across 11 contests. With Brunson and 2022-23 Third Team All-NBA forward Julius Randle leading the way, plus potential further growth from 2019 third-overall pick RJ Barrett, New York should comfortably make the playoffs again.

Philadelphia 76ers

Projected record: 49-33 (5th in East); Tipico over/under: 49.5 wins

2022-23 Finish: 54-28 (3rd)

Philadelphia has won between 49 and 54 games in five of the past six seasons. The 76ers can tentatively be penciled into that range again with a roster similar to last year’s team, though there’s definitely some risk this season, considering James Harden wants out of the organization. Even if Harden’s trade request is granted, a core of reigning MVP Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris should comfortably guide Philly to the playoffs, but things could get dicey if another entry is added to Embiid’s lengthy injury history.

Miami Heat

Projected record: 46-36 (6th in East); Tipico over/under: Not currently listed

2022-23 Finish: 44-38 (7th)

The Heat were almost eliminated in the play-in tournament before making a run to the NBA Finals last season. Marginal regular season improvement should be enough for coach Erik Spoelstra’s club to secure a top-six spot this season and gain direct entry into the playoffs, though Miami’s unlikely to be a juggernaut with after failing to land any of the big names available in the offseason to add to its core of Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Tyler Herro.

Atlanta Hawks

Projected record: 43-39 (7th in East); Tipico over/under: 42.5 wins

2022-23 Finish: 41-41 (8th)

Standout guards Trae Young and Dejounte Murray should coexist better in their second season together, and Clint Capela should continue to provide strong rebounding and rim protection. Atlanta could also have better spacing on the offensive side of the floor thanks to the offseason trade that sent John Collins to Utah. After qualifying for the postseason via the play-in tournament each of the previous two years, the Hawks could find themselves in a similar situation in 2023.

Orlando Magic

Projected record: 42-40 (8th in East); Tipico over/under: 36.5 wins

2022-23 Finish: 34-48 (13th)

Orlando could be poised to make the leap to playoff contention if reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Paolo Banchero can take a step forward in his sophomore season. PG Markelle Fultz also came into his own in the second half of last season, as he’s starting to show the potential that made him the first overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.

Chicago Bulls

Projected record: 41-41 (9th in East); Tipico over/under: 37.5 wins

2022-23 Finish: 40-42 (10th)

The veteran core of Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic isn’t particularly exciting, but it got Chicago to the play-in where it fell to Miami. Running it back with a similar team in 2023-24, the Bulls can expect similar regular season results and should hang right around .500.

Toronto Raptors

Projected record: 38-44 (10th in East); Tipico over/under: 36.5 wins

2022-23 Finish: 41-41 (9th)

Toronto’s hoping its international flair will help the lone NBA team not from the United States find success, but the different formula is unlikely to produce better results. The Raptors lost in the play-in tournament last season after posting the ninth-best record in the East, then fired championship-winning coach Nick Nurse. Toronto then hired Darko Rajakovic of Serbia as its next coach and signed German PG Dennis Schroder to replace the departed Fred VanVleet to round out a starting lineup that also features England’s OG Anunoby, Cameroon’s Pascal Siakam and Austria’s Jakob Poeltl.  The Raptors can make it back into the play-in tournament despite downgrading from VanVleet to Schroder if they get a step forward from the lone American in their projected starting five, as Scottie Barnes plateaued in his second season after winning NBA Rookie of the Year in 2021-22.

Indiana Pacers

Projected record: 37-45 (11th in East); Tipico over/under: 37.5 wins

2022-23 Finish: 35-47 (11th)

Indiana has a young stud in PG Tyrese Haliburton, and the Pacers took two swings at addressing their weakness at forward in the offseason, signing NBA champion Bruce Brown in free agency and drafting Jarace Walker eighth overall. But there still isn’t much to get excited about with this roster besides Haliburton and big man Myles Turner, especially if Indiana follows through on trading Buddy Hield. The Pacers can contend for a spot in the play-in, but they’ll need nearly pristine health from Haliburton to get in, as they went 7-19 without him last season. In two of his first three seasons, Haliburton has played fewer than 60 games.

Charlotte Hornets

Projected record: 34-48 (12th in East); Tipico over/under: 31.5 wins

2022-23 Finish: 27-55 (14th)

With a healthy LaMelo Ball back and the addition of Brandon Miller, the second overall pick of the 2023 draft, the Hornets figure to be better than last year. That’s not saying much, however, as they were still 13-23 when LaMelo played last season. This is likely a play-in team at best, and more likely one that will remain on the outside looking in.

Brooklyn Nets

Projected record: 31-51 (13th in East); Tipico over/under: 37.5 wins

2022-23 Finish: 45-37 (6th)

Brooklyn went from arguably the most talented team in the East to one of the least talented in the conference after trading away Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving last season. The Nets built up enough of a cushion to coast into the playoffs last season but were swept by the 76ers in the first round. Finding offense will be tough for a team that will be relying on Cameron Johnson or Spencer Dinwiddie as its second option behind Mikal Bridges. Brooklyn could exceed expectations if Ben Simmons suddenly discovers his early career form, but we’re coming up on three years since Simmons has been anything other than dead weight.

Detroit Pistons

Projected record: 25-57 (14th in East); Tipico over/under: 28.5 wins

2022-23 Finish: 17-65 (15th)

Detroit had the worst record in the NBA last year but wound up with the fifth overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. They drafted Ausar Thompson there and are hoping for a full season out of 2021 No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham, who was limited to just 12 appearances last year. The young Pistons should make an incremental improvement under new coach Monty Williams, but this team likely isn’t ready to compete for a playoff spot.

Washington Wizards

Projected record: 21-61 (15th in East); Tipico over/under: 24.5 wins

2022-23 Finish: 35-47 (12th)

Washington traded Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis in the offseason and seems set to dive headfirst into a pool of losses behind new tank commander Jordan Poole. A change of direction was overdue for a Wizards team that last won more than 35 games in 2017-18.

Sasha Yodashkin
Sasha Yodashkin has been contributing NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB and Tennis content to RotoWire since 2015, with an emphasis on DFS. He is a huge New York sports fan who has been playing fantasy sports since middle school.
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