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The Cleveland Cavaliers have been in horrid form of late, and with just a couple weeks left to go in the campaign, there's a real chance they could finish second in the Eastern Conference. Of course, sharp NBA bettors know that that shouldn't matter all that much, knowing that the games in May and June are the ones that really count, and LeBron James is never a man to be counted out. But is there some legitimate concern here?
The oddsmakers don't think so. The Cavs are still set at +400 to win the NBA title. Clearly, they're going to be big dogs in a prospective Finals against either the Golden State Warriors or San Antonio Spurs, but they overcame those odds last year to win the last three games of the Finals against a Golden State team that easily projected out to be the best team in the league.
As far as the Dubs are concerned, they're on a roll right now, having won 11 games in a row to fend off any concerns of the Spurs running them down for the top seed. They went into San Antonio and walked out 110-98 victors as 4.5-point underdogs last week, and that was the game that firmly entrenched them as -200 favorites to win the title. Remember that all of this has gone on with Kevin Durant sidelined, and when one of the league's top stars comes back into the fold come playoff time, it's clear that this is going to be the team to beat.
The Spurs are never ones to be counted out. They're going to win 60 games this season, including at least 30 at home and 30 away, and that's a good indication that they've got the horses to run with anyone in the league. That said, the road through the West is going to be a lot tougher for the Spurs as the No. 2 seed than the Warriors as the No. 1.
As the top seed, the Warriors are very likely to get either Utah or the Clippers in the second round of the playoffs after what should be an easy 4-5 game jaunt against Portland or Denver in the opening round. As the No. 2 seed, it's entirely possible that the Spurs could have to face Russell Westbrook and James Harden in succession. Yikes. Though neither the Rockets nor the Thunder truly feel like legitimate contenders to win the title, both could put a spook into anyone just because of the superstars they are going to throw on the court. There's a reason why Houston is set at +2500 to win it all even though it's really never going to be better than the third choice in the West.
If you're looking for some good odds, look at the leaders of the other divisions in the East. Toronto wasn't good enough to beat Cleveland last year in the Eastern Conference Finals, but perhaps getting Serge Ibaka could give them a chance. We also know just how good John Wall has been and how dangerous the Wizards are at home, and there's a chance, if Cleveland keeps playing suspect basketball, that Washington could run it down as well. These prices of +2000 on Boston and +2500 on the Wizards feel awfully sweet.
Odds To Win the NBA Championship
Golden State Warriors -200
Cleveland Cavaliers +400
San Antonio Spurs +800
Boston Celtics +2000
Houston Rockets +2500
Toronto Raptors +5000
Washington Wizards +5000
Los Angeles Clippers +7500
Utah Jazz +7500
Oklahoma City Thunder +15000
Atlanta Hawks +20000
Memphis Grizzlies +20000
Milwaukee Bucks +25000
Indiana Pacers +30000
Miami Heat +30000
Portland Trail Blazers +30000
Chicago Bulls +100000
Denver Nuggets +250000
Charlotte Hornets +999999
Detroit Pistons +999999
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