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NBA Team Focus: Be Wary of the Cavs

Cleveland Cavaliers Tyronn Lue

As the calendar turns to March, the days in the NBA regular season are starting to dwindle and teams are getting geared up for the playoffs (except for the Philadelphia 76ers and Phoenix Suns, of course). With the postseason on the horizon, there’s one squad bettors may need to be wary of in the coming months – the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Cavs, who were perched atop of the Eastern Conference at 40-15 SU as of February 24, are the unquestioned favorites to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals and appear to be a lock for the one-seed. A veteran-laden bunch, the wine and gold will be wanting to rest up for the playoffs, and that starts with hometown boy and franchise savior, LeBron James.

Consider this: James, 31, has played more games than anyone else in the Association since the Cavaliers took him at No. 1 overall in the 2003 NBA Draft. Wednesday’s matchup with Charlotte will be James’ 1,144 career game – a total that includes six trips to the NBA Finals and two championships in Miami. King James prides himself on his durability, but there’s no questioning he’s got some serious tread on his tires.

In the wake of a 96-88 loss to the Detroit Pistons on February 22, James tied his season low with 12 points, shooting 5-for-18 from the field while committing six turnovers. Newly-appointed head coach Tyronn Lue admitted he’s considered resting James for the second half of back-to-back sets from now until the end of the season along with sitting key players like Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love when home court-advantage is locked up.

When asked about the possibility, James was unsurprisingly wary of the idea. “There’s nothing to talk about,” the 12 time All-Star recently told reporters. “I mean, obviously, if coach Lue wanted to sit me I’ll follow his orders, but for me I’m available every night unless I’m injured. I’ve been hurt all year, but unless you’re injured, you play, so I’m okay with that.”

Let’s be clear - the Cavaliers are an all or nothing team. They’re deep, talented and know how to win. Yes, the East has improved this season, however no one else comes close to them in the conversation of legit NBA championship contenders.

So with that in mind, how should sports bettors approach this team going forward? For starters, keep a close eye on pre-game lineup announcements. For example: on March 24, the Cavs have a date with the lowly Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center.

The Nets have no incentive to bottom out in order to increase their chances of picking higher in the draft (they don’t even possess their own first-round pick), so you won't see any tanking going on from them. Lue could easily opt to rest his big guns in the meaningless game, which would make that big spread look pretty unappealing.

Pointless late season games are when garbage time heroes shine (I’m looking at you, Bojan Bogdanovic), meaning your Cavs wager could easily go down the tubes if you grabbed the early line thinking they would dominate what's clearly weaker competition.

At 24-28-3 ATS as of February 24, Cleveland has been far from a reliable bet this season with the majority of their star players in the fold. Mix in increased time for bench players with overall fatigue, and the Cavs could become a very inconsistent team at the betting window down the stretch.