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Waiting is a Futures Bettors Best Option with Cavs in 2016-17

We all know the story — LeBron and the Cavs did the impossible last season when they became the first team in NBA history to erase a three games to one deficit in the NBA Finals when they came back to upset the Golden State Warriors. As a result, they enter this season with a completely different narrative as LeBron fulfilled his promise of delivering a championship to Cleveland, but a new challenge presents itself after the Warriors retooled by adding Kevin Durant to their record-setting lineup.

A big difference for them this season could be Kyrie Irving legitimizing himself as one of the NBA’s top superstars. After outplaying reigning league MVP Steph Curry in the Finals, the oft-injured point guard might be on the cusp of finally breaking through to the next level after missing significant time in two of his five NBA seasons. At just 24 years old, he proved he has the talent and mental fortitude to help James with the heavy lifting.

So, with so much focus on the Warriors and Cavs who clearly stand out as the top teams in their conferences, can we basically just fast-forward to the NBA Finals to see them match up for a third straight year? Pretty much, yes, and the odds reflect that. Online sportsbook 5Dimes has a Golden State vs Cleveland Finals matchup set at +125, with the next-best odds at a distant +896 for a Warriors vs Celtics Finals.

With such a big gap between the NBA’s top two teams and the rest of the league, there’s not a whole lot of value in betting on the Cavs, but if things click the way they’re supposed to, there’s money to be made for bettors. Here’s a look at their futures odds for the upcoming season along with my thoughts on how bettors should approach them:

NBA Championship +300

No beating around the bush with this one — the Cavs are my pick to win it all again this season, but I’m waiting to make a futures bet. With an entire regular season to be played, +300 isn’t worth it, but that number could grow during the regular season. Looking at how their odds moved last season, they opened at +275 but entered the playoffs at +400. Had you waited, you would have gotten much better value and you would have been assured that they were entering the playoffs healthy.

The Eastern Conference is a little bit better this season, which could see a few teams cut into the Cavs' odds if they slip at any point during the regular season. Also, the Warriors could put some serious distance between themselves and the rest of the league if they’re even more unbeatable than they were during the regular season last season.

Eastern Conference -215 & Central Division -1100

Don't bother.

Unless you’re investing a few hundred into the conference bet or a few grand into the division bet, these are pointless wagers to make unless you’re parlaying them with something. With an 82-game regular season ahead of us, a key focus for the Cavs will be being healthy for the playoffs. That might mean taking their foot off the gas toward the end of the regular season to allow their stars to rest up. This could allow another team to knock them off the top spot in the Central, meaning the risk isn’t worth the small reward. We’ve also seen injuries knock off countless teams during championship pursuits, making a minus money bet to win the conference before the season even starts a gigantic ripoff.

OVER/UNDER win total 56.5

Oddsmakers set this number perfectly. The last 10 NBA champions have averaged 56 wins the year after winning the title, so that points to the UNDER. The ‘Big Three’ Miami Heat averaged 60 wins the years after their championships, so that points to the OVER. Specific to this Cavs team, they won 57 games last season and that was without Kyrie Irving for a big chunk of the season, while in LeBron’s 13 seasons in the NBA, his teams have averaged 52.5 wins.

While I don’t expect a championship hangover in Cleveland, I’m siding with the UNDER. It’s close, but with James’ minutes per game coming down in three straight seasons, the Cavs will probably be in preservation mode more than ever, which will mean a further reduction in LeBron’s minutes and he’ll likely sit out a few additional games this season as well.

Plus, Matthew Dellavedova isn't on the team anymore.

2016 Cleveland cavaliers Futures Odds
NBA Finals+300
Eastern Conference-215
Cental Division-1100
Win Totals 56.5

Odds as of October 3 at Bovada