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What Have We Learned from the 1st Month of NBA Basketball?

November 24, 2014

Before rumors were swirling around that LeBron James was headed back to Cleveland, the Cavaliers were listed as 40/1 odds to win the 2015 NBA title. Some bettors jumped on that in hopes LeBron would come back to Cleveland. LeBron did sign with the Cavaliers, and when the team traded for Kevin Love, Cleveland became the heavy favorites to win it all.

The Cavaliers are loaded with talent, but it hasn’t been an easy road the first 10 games. Cleveland is currently 5-7 overall, but remains the favorites to win the NBA title (13/4), according to Bovada.LV. Their odds to win the Eastern Conference are 1/1, which means it’s virtually pointless to place a bet on the team pretty much everyone outside Chicago expects to get to the NBA Finals.

It’s going to take time for the Cavaliers to click

LeBron James warned fans that it’s going to be a long process. Cleveland fans shouldn’t expect the Cavaliers to instantly become unbeatable. Sure, they have the most talented trio in the NBA (James, Love, and Kyrie Irving), but they need to get used to playing together. Team chemistry takes time to build.

Can the Cavaliers build that team chemistry before the end of the season? Absolutely. Remember, in LeBron’s first year with Miami, everyone expected them to win 70+ games. Unfortunately, for the bandwagon Miami Heat fans, they didn’t expect the team to play so poorly the first month or so.

The Cavaliers are struggling just like the Heat did 4 years ago in LeBron’s first season in Miami. By the end of the season, Miami was easily the best team in the Eastern Conference. They cruised through the Eastern Conference playoffs before falling to Dallas in the NBA Finals. They learned a lot from that season and won championships in the following two seasons.

At 13/4 odds, it’s probably pointless to wager on the Cavaliers to win it all. The odds will either stay the same or improve. If Cleveland continues to struggle for a few more weeks, you’ll get better odds – perhaps 4/1 or better. If Cleveland turns it around quickly, the odds will likely stay the same. So there’s really no point in betting on Cleveland to win it all right now. Wait a few weeks and see if the odds change. Cleveland’s 5-7 start hasn’t changed my opinion that the Cavaliers will make the NBA Finals, but there are some other teams that have just as good of a shot at winning it all, in my opinion.

If not Cleveland, then who?

Cleveland is clearly the most talented team in the NBA, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to win it all. There are a few Western Conference teams that just might be a better bet due to the odds (and possibly even Chicago). Toronto leads the Eastern Conference right now, but I simply don’t think they have much of a shot at even getting to the NBA Finals.

If Derrick Rose can stay healthy, Chicago is really the only team I could see giving Cleveland fits in the Eastern Conference playoffs. But there are a few Western Conference teams that just might knock them off in the Finals. Memphis, Golden State, Houston, and San Antonio are 4 teams that you have to consider.

Memphis was just 25/1 in the preseason, but have the best record in the NBA after the first few weeks. Houston is loaded with talent, but they have to prove they can win in the playoffs. Ditto for Golden State. Cleveland certainly is the favorite, but they’ve proven they are no lock to cruise through the regular season.