NBA Betting: How the Damian Lillard Trade Changes the Eastern Conference Race

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Michael Savio
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  • The Bucks traded away Grayson Allen and Jrue Holiday for Damian Lillard
  • Lillard averaged 32.2 points and 7.3 assists last season
  • Giannis made just 42.5% of his free throws in last year’s playoffs.

The Bucks and Blazers set the NBA world on fire yesterday when it was announced Damian Lillard would be heading to Milwaukee.  The Heat had long been considered the only serious suitor for the superstar, but Milwaukee was able to reach a deal to steal Lillard from their conference rival.

Below we will break down how the trade changes the Eastern conference race. We’ll share updated odds to win the conference along with insights to help you place winning wagers at NBA betting sites this season.

Odds to Win the Eastern Conference

The Case for the Bucks Winning the NBA Title

Though many only remember the Bucks embarrassing playoff loss last season, they did finish the with the best record in the league. Their core still remains intact, but they have improved by swapping out Jrue Holiday for Damian Lillard. While Holiday was a great point guard for the Bucks, Lillard will provide a major upgrade on offense.

The Bucks will now have a very dangerous tandem with Giannis and Dame. The former MVP has been needing a pick and roll mate, and few are better at it than Dame. Add that to the fact that they’ll have Brook Lopez and Khris Middleton on the floor, and you can count on this team scoring a lot of points.

While Dame will help this team win a lot of games, his impact will be felt even more in the playoffs. Jrue Holiday was an elite defender, but his offensive abilities did not carry over to the postseason. While Dame isn’t the defender that Holiday is, his offensive abilities should more than make up for it.

The Case Against the Bucks Winning the NBA Title

We have seen plenty of teams add superstars, only to fail spectacularly during the season. We don’t know how Dame and Giannis will fit together, assuming both can stay healthy. Playing styles, egos, and off court issues can arise, making their success far from guaranteed.

The biggest reason to bet against the Bucks is the moves made by the other teams on this list. The Celtics added Kristaps Porzingis, giving them a major offensive upgrade below. The Suns added Bradley Beal to play alongside Devin Booker and Kevin Durant.

While the Nuggets haven’t made any major moves, they are the defending NBA Champions and will return most of their team.

We could write about each of these teams separately, as each has a case to be this year’s NBA Champion. However, the biggest reason to bet against the Bucks is Giannis. As good as he is, Giannis’s inability to shoot free throws or threes limits the damage he can do. We have seen more and more teams take advantage of that over the last two season, and that trend will continue.

Giannis also was a big reason the Bucks lost their opening series to the Heat in last year’s playoffs. He missed a lot of key shots and free throws (45.2 % FT) while letting his emotions get the best of him, leading to fouls. We think Dame helps calm that down, but the playbook is definitely out on stopping Giannis in the postseason.

Michael is an avid sports fan and a veteran bettor from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He learned the trade from his grandfather in Las Vegas as a kid. As an adult, Michael started picking games for a small sports betting site and has built it into a career. His experience allows him to provide tips and information to help other bettors improve their game. Michael cheers for all Wisconsin pro teams, the Arizona State Sun Devils (his alma mater), and the Ottawa Senators. He specializes in baseball betting but has extensive experience in football, basketball, and hockey. When he isn’t pouring over stats, he’s spending time with his two young children or hiking and enjoying the outdoors.