In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past two days, the Cleveland Cavaliers traded All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and a 2018 first round pick from the Brooklyn Nets.
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The season is still a few weeks away, but we’ve already seen this trade make changes in the betting markets. The NBA Championship Futures on June 20th – which was after the Finals but before the Celtics added Gordon Hayward – looked like this:
|2018 NBA Championship – Odds to Win 6/20/17|
|Golden State Warriors -175|
|Cleveland Cavaliers +350|
|Boston Celtics +1200|
Now, they look like this:
|2018 NBA Championship – Odds to Win 8/23/17|
|Golden State Warriors -160|
|Cleveland Cavaliers +450|
|Boston Celtics +750|
The first thing you notice here is that the Warriors are mostly unfazed by this whole process. They were the best before this and they are the best after this. Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Stephen Curry are simply on another level as a team right now and whatever is happening in the East doesn’t change them as the favorite.
That said, it definitely did shake up the East picture a bit. A closer look at the Eastern Conference odds shows just how close the oddsmakers at Bovada think these two teams are:
|2018 NBA Eastern Conference – Odds to Win|
|Cleveland Cavaliers -160|
|Boston Celtics +200|
|Washington Wizards +1200|
Those are some pretty steep changes and you can see how people are talking themselves into the Celtics. It’s especially jarring when you remember the Cavs were a -600 favorite in the Eastern Conference Finals as a one seed just a few months ago.
Kyrie Irving is a big time scorer who can put up points on anyone in this league. You saw it in the Finals as he played at an elite level, but the supporting cast just wasn’t enough to get it done this time. He’s not a great defender, but he’s an upgrade on Isaiah Thomas to be sure. Add in a step forward for Jaylen Brown (who should take Crowder’s minutes), highly regarded rookie Jayson Tatum, Hayward and Al Horford and this team looks downright dangerous. Enough to beat the Cavs? That remains to be seen, but dangerous nonetheless.
For the Cavaliers, this has to be considered a win. Isaiah Thomas was a big time player last year and he should fill the role of Irving just fine. LeBron James often just needs some plays off from offense and Thomas can provide that, especially in the fourth quarter. Jae Crowder is an interesting piece for them and that 2018 pick can be used to build for the future or add on someone later this year. This move puts a lot of pressure on Kevin Love to step into that second scoring role.
Cleveland should still be the favorite in the East, but it is much closer than it used to be. It will be interesting to see how the regular season goes. If the Celtics get home court advantage once again that could spell trouble for Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals.
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