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Did the Cavs improve?
Cleveland’s NBA Championship Odds Are Confusing

A weird thing happened to the Cleveland Cavaliers’ odds to win the 2018 NBA Championship – nobody agreed on what they were. BetOnline.ag listed the Cavs pretty proactively at +600, but they were all over the map for a hot minute if you compared that price to other books. Some of our competitors even had them as high as +1200. Are we nuts? Are they?

The thing is that nobody really knows how to grade the end results for the Cavaliers. It’s better on the surface than the situation that preceded it, but do you remember how optimistic people were heading in to the 2017-18 season? I mean, this is LeBron James we’re talking about.

The Cavaliers were around +800 at BetOnline.ag prior to the insanity that saw Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose, Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye and Iman Shumpert all leave town in return for Rodney Hood, George Hill, Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson. On paper, this is a slam dunk (excuse the pun) for the Cavaliers. But we all know that you can’t just glue a bunch of pieces together and craft a masterpiece, even when that piece is centered around LeBron James.

It’s different when you’re adding one piece, like Blake Griffin in Detroit or Kevin Durant with the Golden State Warriors. One piece can sort of wriggle itself in to place without disrupting what already exists. Multiple pieces takes a lot more juggling until you find the right…mix. As I said yesterday, I don’t know if Tyronn Lue is the guy to make this work.

Any optimism surrounding the new-look Cavaliers is mostly fueled by the fact that LeBron James is reportedly happy with how things went. A motivated LeBron is a dangerous thing. And his energy can have a strange, binding effect on a team. Hood, Clarkson and Hill are all excellent two-way players. There’s a lot of athleticism here. But can they bring it all together in time for the playoffs, and then make Kevin Love work in the mix?

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That’s a tough sell. Think of all the top teams in the league that didn’t make moves. That includes all of them by the way. Boston added buyout candidate Greg Munroe and there are very exciting rumblings about Vince Carter potentially returning to Toronto after Sacramento does the same with him, but the Spurs, Thunder, Rockets, Timberwolves and Celtics did absolutely nothing of note at the deadline. In short, none of these teams did anything that will alter or screw up the team chemistry they’ve build through the first half.

Boston remains the next best team in the east to win the title at +1200, and the surging Toronto Raptors are listed at +1600. If you love the Celtics, then now is the time to pound them. They have everything you’d want and it’s hard to imagine how good they’d be if Gordon Hayward was still healthy.

As for the Raptors, they remain a gigantic leap of faith considering how badly they’ve performed against LeBron James in the playoffs. DeMar DeRozan has gone to another level this year, and Kyle Lowry has ceded much of the playmaking to his very capable (and scary deep) roster of teammates. There were rumblings that the Raptors were pursuing DeAndre Jordan at the deadline, and while that would’ve been an ideal fit for both player and team, it didn’t happen so it doesn’t matter.

Both Boston and Toronto feel like “regular season champs” which could lose badly in the playoffs to almost any serious team. Ok, maybe Boston less than Toronto, but you catch my drift. The Cavaliers have the size, speed and defensive weapons to be a menace in the playoffs but there isn’t a lot of time to bring it together and battle-test the new machine.

Cleveland still sits pretty at 31-22 SU in the standings, and retain the worst betting record in the whole league at 15-37-1 ATS. People will be excited to bet on them, the same as they always are, but I’d be careful. They hit the road to play Atlanta, Boston and Oklahoma City over the next three games and that will tell us what we need to do know prior to the break about whether or not Cleveland made all the right moves.

Alas, it really feels like none of these teams did enough to close the gap on the Golden State Warriors who appear to be choosing the wrong time to shoot themselves in the foot.

Damnit, the NBA is confusing. Let’s take it one day at a time before we start lofting bets in to the NBA futures? I like the price on the Celtics, and I don’t mind the Raptors as a lucky flier play. But the Cavaliers are an absolute “no” for me until I see something tangible.

Bet on the nightly NBA lines at Betonline.ag and let’s start making some sense of these post deadline rosters!

  
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