When a guy hits a game-winning shot in a Game 7 to dump you out of the NBA Playoffs, you’re going to be pretty happy to see him leave the conference you’re playing in when summertime comes around. And that’s exactly what it’s been for James Ennis, who has declared that the Philadelphia 76ers will “walk to the Finals” next season.
Ennis re-signed with the Sixers, putting pen to paper on a two-year $4.1 million deal. And he says his main reason for sticking with the team is owed to the fact that Kawhi Leonard is no longer around.
“Because it’s a good team, and a good chance of winning," the small forward said on Wednesday as he discussed his decision with the media at Summer League, via The Philadelphia Enquirer. "The East is going to be wide open. We had a good chance last year. Kawhi is gone. He went to the West.
"So we are going to walk to the Finals in the East.”
That’s quite the statement from the former Houston Rockets man, and he has every right to feel confident in his team’s ability to reach the Finals next season. The Sixers look the best team on paper in the East right now, even with Jimmy Butler gone, having gotten Josh Richardson from the Miami Heat as part of the sign-and-trade deal that saw the feisty guard leave for all-year-round sunny weather in South Beach.
The Sixers also acquired former Boston Celtics big man Al Horford and have re-signed Tobias Harris to a max deal as well.
Of course, this hardly means they’ll just run through the East. The Milwaukee Bucks are expected to have another huge season, led by reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Brooklyn Nets are in the conversation too, having landed Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant - although the latter is likely to miss the entire season with the Achilles injury he sustained during the Finals against the Toronto Raptors.
Philly is +250.00 to win the Eastern Conference with Bet365 next season while the bookies have the Bucks at +137.50 to take the East. The Boston Celtics, who boast a new point guard in Kemba Walker, are +700.00 with William Hill, who has the Nets at +900.00 to top the conference.
Freebets.co.uk is currently offering promo codes for new Betfred customers looking to try their hand at some NBA betting ahead of next season. The aforementioned bookmakers have the Los Angeles Clippers to win the title at +275.00 while the Los Angeles Lakers are at +350.00. They have odds of +550.00 on the Bucks, +900.00 on the Sixers and +1200.00 on the Golden State Warriors.
As much as certain teams appear to be favorites, for now, neither conference looks to have a clear-cut winner given the movement around the league this summer. Next season already promises to be one for the ages as the balance has shifted drastically and the title is actually really up for grabs now that the Warriors dynasty has seemingly disintegrated with the departure of Durant.
It should be quite an exciting ride.