Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons waiting to grab a rebound
Joel Embiid (L) and Ben Simmons (R) have led the 76ers to a 3-0 start. Photo by KA Sports Photos (Flickr) [CC License].
  • The 76ers have a perfect 3-0 record so far this season
  • The Bucks are 2-1 with a disappointing loss to Miami in their home opener
  • Philadelphia has already moved ahead of Milwaukee in terms of NBA title odds in the East

Two of the biggest favorites in the Eastern Conference once again this season are the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers. The Bucks were deemed the Eastern Conference’s best hope in the preseason NBA Championship odds, but that’s already changed after just one week of action.

2020 NBA Championship Odds

Team Odds from BetOnline
Los Angeles Clippers +300
Los Angeles Lakers +400
Philadelphia 76ers +600
Milwaukee Bucks +700
Houston Rockets +800

Odds taken on October 29th, 2019.

Philly, led by Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, have looked very impressive early on, beating the Hawks, Celtics, and Pistons. Their starting five is arguably the best in the league, but they lack depth on their bench.

The Bucks, on the other hand, have a deep second unit to complement a starting five led by reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.

It’s very early in the season and the fact that the Bucks are 2-1 to start the year isn’t a big deal. They lost in OT to a revamped Miami Heat team with many new faces but also beat the Houston Rockets in their season opener, a team led by two of the league’s best players in Russell Westbrook and James Harden.

Milwaukee has had the more difficult schedule compared to the 76ers, so take that into consideration. It won’t get any easier for the Bucks though, as they take on the Celtics again on Wednesday, while the Sixers face the Timberwolves.

Sixers Depth Concerns

Philly has one of the most talented starting lineups in the NBA with Simmons, Harris, Embiid, Al Horford, and Josh Richardson. But they lack any consistent bench players who can come in and eat up minutes. Through their first three games, Philly’s second unit is scoring just 28 points per game, which is 25th in the NBA.

To put that into perspective, the Clippers bench has scored 61 points per contest (first in the NBA).

If Philly’s star players can all stay healthy, they’re going to have a very good chance of contending for an Eastern Conference title alongside the Bucks. But with a long season ahead of them and a roster loaded with oft-injured players, the chances of running the 82-game gauntlet unscathed are not great.

The Bucks Are the Full Package

The Bucks, on the other hand, have several players who can come in off their bench and contribute on a nightly basis. They are seventh in the league with 42 points per night from their second unit. In last night’s win over Cleveland, George Hill played just 19 minutes and dropped 19 points while collecting eight boards and three assists.

Patrick Connaughton also put up 17 points in just 21 minutes while going 4-for-5 from three-point range. Antetokounmpo is the anchor of this team, but having capable scorers alongside him, like Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, and Wesley Matthews, is a huge plus.

Knowing they can rest and count on their bench players to still put up points and keep them in games is going to be a vital factor this season as they look to win the Eastern Conference and contend for an NBA title.

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