This season is all about Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers to the point where them winning the East at -230 almost seems to low. The injury to Kyrie Irving is worrisome, but the Cavs showed last year that they could make it to the NBA Finals without him or Kevin Love. They need those guys to stay healthy though to keep Lebron James from breaking down. They are the favorite for a reason and unless something bad happens they are making the Finals once again.
Everyone else here is pretty much “if something happens to Cleveland” bets. The Bulls are the best bet here as the analysts all love them in the post-Thibodeau era. If they can better utilize their bench and have an offense that actually moves while maintaining their defense, that could be a very tough team. There are always injury concerns here though, especially with Derrick Rose. Gasol is getting older and Noah looked about done last season. I like this team, but if something happens to Cleveland they are not my favorite.
A crazy line is the Miami Heat at +1450. This team has a ton of talent on paper, a great coach and some serious upside, but they haven’t done anything. Wade is always hurt, Bosh is recovering from missing a whole season, Whiteside hasn’t proven he can go for a full season and there are just a ton of questions here. This could definitely be an Eastern Conference finalist if everything breaks right, but that is a seriously big if. There is just as big of a chance that this is a lottery team that gets blown up midway through the season. The Heat are going to be extremely interesting this season, but this would truly be a gamble.
The Atlanta Hawks are going to be a very good regular season team again, but we saw in the playoffs last year that their stuff doesn’t really work in the playoffs as they had a hard team beating the Nets of all teams. I just don’t like their chances in the playoffs when they didn’t make any serious improvements to the roster.
The most interesting team if something happens to Cleveland has to be the Washington Wizards. John Wall and Bradley Beal are a dangerous duo and while the loss of Paul Pierce hurts it could lead the way for the Otto Porter breakout that the Wizards badly need. He had some good games in the postseason last year and has looked decent in the preseason. I also really like Kelly Oubre as a rookie and think he could do some good things. The coaching is always a question mark here, but if they stumble out of the gate I could see a change there. If that happens, look out. (If something happens to Cleveland.)
|New York Knicks||+8500|