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NBA Central Division Futures: Another Cakewalk is in Store for LeBron and the Cavs

To put it lightly, the NBA’s Eastern Conference has been LeBron James’ personal playground since he came into the league in 2003. When it comes to the division King James plays in, it’s even more lopsided.

As the 2017-18 campaign looms closer, the Cavs are heavy -1000 chalk to win the Central Division at Bovada. The Milwaukee Bucks (+600), Detroit Pistons (+2500), Indiana Pacers (+6600) and Chicago Bulls (+10000) have the daunting task of eclipsing the wine and gold.

For better or for worse, the Cavaliers are never boring. Less than a month after getting dispatched in the NBA Finals at the hands of the Golden State Warriors, the front office decided not to bring back general manager David Griffin – a move that caused a rift with many players (including James), which was the first warning sign that the front office had sprung a leak.

Shortly after, star point guard Kyrie Irving demanded a trade away from the only franchise he’s ever known. That request was eventually fulfilled after a dramatic summer when the team dealt Irving to archrival Boston for a package that included Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the crown jewel of the deal, the 2018 Brooklyn Nets’ unprotected first-round pick.

Even with Thomas expected to be out until the all-star break with a hip injury, the Cavaliers are still loaded with talent. With a lineup featuring Dwyane Wade, James, Crowder, Kevin Love, Derrick Rose, Kyle Korver, J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson, Cleveland is a near lock to reclaim the Central Division banner for the fourth time in as many seasons.

As he heads into a contract year, James’ future has never been murkier. While Bron Bron may very well leave his hometown for the second time next summer, he hasn’t given us any reason to doubt him when it comes to his excellent play on the court. After all, James-led teams have been to the Finals eight times in a row.

I’m a big fan of the Bucks’ young roster and I believe they possess one of the most talented cores in the Association, but to expect them to dethrone the Cavs in the Central Division race this year is foolhardy. As for the Pistons, Pacers and Bulls? You’re better off setting your money on fire than wagering on them to win the division title in the upcoming campaign.

2017-18 NBA Central Division Odds
Cleveland Cavaliers-1000
Milwaukee Bucks+600
Detroit Pistons+2500
Indiana Pacers+6600
Chicago Bulls+10000

Odds as of October 2 at Bovada

Archived Articles

If you were thinking about betting on the Cleveland Cavaliers to win the NBA's Central Division, you won't be finding any value.

LeBron James and company topped the Eastern Conference with a record of 29-11 as of mid-January, and online sportsbook Sports Interaction has tabbed them as astronomical -10000 chalk to win the division. The Indiana Pacers (+2800), Milwaukee Bucks (+3000), Chicago Bulls (+3000) and Detroit Pistons (+8000) round out the rest of the field.

The Eastern Conference has been LeBron James' playground since he entered the league in 2003, so it really isn't much of a surprise to see the Cavs as the heavy front-runners here. Cleveland sat eight games up on the Pacers for first place in the Central at the time of writing, and it would be a major shock to see any other team eclipse them by season's end.

If you're interested in backing the Cavs as a futures bet, consider their title odds. Cleveland is currently +235 to hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy in June.

2016-17 NBA Central Division Odds
Cleveland Cavaliers-10000
Indiana Pacers+2800
Milwaukee Bucks+3000
Chicago Bulls+3000
Detroit Pistons+8000

Odds as of January 18 at Sports Interaction

Archived Articles

Since LeBron James departed South Beach and took his talents back to Northeast Ohio, the Central Division hasn’t been in doubt. It’s the same old story in 2016-17, as the Cleveland Cavaliers remain massive favorites to once again win the division.

BetOnline has the Cavs as -1500 chalk to garner the bragging rights, with the Chicago Bulls (+800), Detroit Pistons (+3300), Indiana Pacers (+3300) and Milwaukee Bucks (+10000) well back. Cleveland was -1100 prior to tipoff of the season.

There simply isn’t any value in backing the wine and gold in this regard unless you think risking $100 to win $6.67 is a sound betting strategy. As of November 30, Cleveland topped the Atlantic and the Eastern Conference as a whole at 13-3. The Cavs have been especially dynamite at home, winning nine out of their first 10 at Quicken Loans Arena.

If any other team besides the Cavs claimed the Central, it would be a major surprise, but don’t tell that to the Bulls. Chicago (10-6) has been impressive thus far, as the major offseason additions of Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo have already started to pay dividends. The Bulls defense has improved tenfold after falling off a cliff last year, and they’re currently eighth in the Association in points allowed at 99.

Milwaukee (8-8), Indiana (9-9) and Detroit (9-10) have all been treading water, but it will be a major disappointment for the Pacers and Pistons if they miss out on the playoffs. Both clubs have been inconsistent, to say the least, and expecting them to finish ahead of the Cavs in the Central is foolhardy.

Do you think anyone can stop the Cavs, or is the Central going to be a cakewalk again? Let us know in the comments.

2016-17 NBA Central Division Odds
Cleveland Cavaliers-1500
Chicago Bulls+800
Detroit Pistons+3300
Indiana Pacers+3300
Milwaukee Bucks+10000

Odds as of November 30 at BetOnline

Archived Articles

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know how good the Cleveland Cavaliers are.

The Cavs found themselves in a 3-1 hole to the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals, but proceeded to make history by rattling off three wins in a row to bring a championship to Northeast Ohio for the first time since 1964. It was the first time in NBA history that a team came back from a 3-1 deficit in the Finals.

Unsurprisingly, the wine and gold are extremely heavy favorites to garner the NBA’s Central Division crown in the upcoming campaign. Cleveland, which comes in at -1100 at Bovada, is light-years ahead of Indiana (+1200), Chicago (+1800), Detroit (+2500) and Milwaukee (+5000).

That means if you wanted to place a $100 wager on LeBron James and company to once again win the division, you’d collect a mere $10. Not great, Bob.

So, is there a point in backing any team besides the Cavaliers to win the Central? Kevin Garnett may tell you anything is possible, but I can’t see anyone else snatching the banner this year. Cleveland is simply too good across the board, as James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love will be riding a high after last year’s epic comeback.

Detroit made a surprise postseason appearance last year, and they actually gave the Cavs a run for their money despite getting swept. The Pistons are young and well-coached; expect to see them in the playoffs, but they aren’t ready to challenge for the division yet.

The Pacers and Bucks both improved, while the Bulls made some questionable choices this summer. A Rajon Rondo-Dwyane Wade combination isn’t going to scare anyone, no matter how good Jimmy Butler is.

2016-17 NBA Central Division Odds
Cleveland Cavaliers-1100
Indiana Pacers+1200
Chicago Bulls+1800
Detroit Pistons+2500
Milwaukee Bucks+5000

Odds as of October 26 at Bovada

Archived Articles

Many NBA experts have described the landscape of the Eastern Conference in the upcoming NBA season as “the Cleveland Cavaliers and then everyone else,” and considering how good the Cavs look on paper, it’s hard to disagree with that statement.

If you’re looking to wager on the Cavaliers winning the Central division at Bovada, you’re going to have to lay some heavy chalk (-500). The next most likely challenger, the Chicago Bulls, are +400 to win the division at the shop. Jimmy Butler blossomed last year for the Bulls and has become a key member for the club, but the growing list of injuries that’s plaguing Derrick Rose has made it tough for the team to find its groove without the former MVP consistently on the floor.

The Milwaukee Bucks, Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons round out the list in the Central. Can one of these teams play the role of David in taking down the Goliath that is the Cavaliers? If you think so, there’s no shortage of value.

2015-16 NBA Central Division Odds

Odds as of October 21 at Bovada

  • Cleveland Cavaliers -500
  • Chicago Bulls +400
  • Milwaukee Bucks +1600
  • Indiana Pacers +2000
  • Detroit Pistons +6600