To look at the atmosphere in Cleveland this NBA season, it’s clear that both players and fans believe the past is past and the future is now.
Over the course of 82 games, the Cavaliers are looking to prove that their Eastern Conference dominance and the former presence of one now absent player were not mutually exclusive. And in the second game of the season, they beat down that proverbial back-riding monkey a bit by defeating last year’s Eastern reps, the Boston Celtics.
But all things being equal, adoration, hopes and dreams aside, what are the Cleveland Cavaliers’ legitimate odds to make the postseason?
Basketball, ever changing and unpredictable, is about as fickle a sport as there is. With a game like online blackjack, you know the set odds. You know the format to plot around. Betting on basketball, however, has more variables than string theory.
Practically, looking at the vicious competition atop the East, the Cavs are the odd man out without huge game-changing star power to propel them over teams—by way of record—like the Celtics, Bulls, Magic, Hawks and Heat.
With over 70 games left, a lot can change, but the power structure in the East is virtually the same as it was last year, all but the Cavs missing that one game-changing star.
So, on its face, we’re looking at 40:1 for Cleveland to make a playoff push similar to last year’s division-winning one-seed performance. In the Central where the Cavs play, they’re behind Chicago on both the win column and in on-floor presence, and .500 isn’t .750.
Luckily for Cleveland, however, even a .500 squad has a realistic chance of making the playoffs. And with Miami struggling to find their chemistry, Boston bound to cool to a simmer by late winter, the Pacers ready to drop out of contention and the Magic playing over their heads, the Cavs are solid to finish with the 5th or 6th seed.
Cleveland still has two good point guards in Gibson and Williams, and the Eastern powerhouse teams are all vulnerable to solid point guard play. They have a big inside presence with Hickson, Varejao and Jamison that matches up with teams like Boston, Chicago and Orlando. And more than anything, they have something to prove.
In online video poker games, the Cavs’ roster might be akin to an inside straight – a long-shot to catch. But pound for pound, they actually outmatch a few teams that would otherwise contend for the playoffs, namely the Bucks, Pacers and Knicks.
Overall, this year for the Cavs is a fresh start with mostly familiar faces. Byron Scott ushers in a new atmosphere, and the returning talent wants nothing more than to work that bitter taste from their mouths.
3:1 to make the playoffs seems more than fair for Cleveland. And as long as they show up to play on a nightly basis, they should have little trouble grabbing a spot. After the top four teams in the East, of which Cleveland used to be one, the talent pool is overwhelmingly mediocre. The Cavs hang around with the best the East can offer.