Cavs Way to Eastern Conference Championship

With the regular season over and postseason matches set, the Cleveland Cavaliers are set to play against Boston on Sunday. Despite ranking second behind the Atlanta Hawks, the Cavaliers are a favorite this season, having won 34 out of their final 43 games.

Last Tuesday, the Cavaliers already beat the Celtics, armed with power players Kyrie Irving, Timothy Mozgov, and LeBron James. Their 99-91 victory, though close, led Cleveland to a 2-0 series lead, attributed by many experts to the skills of some of Cleveland’s best players. Although the Celtics were able to rally in the third quarter, after lagging behind the Cavs by a full 14 points, it still wasn’t enough to lead Boston to a victory.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have a successful postseason run so far, especially with the performances of key players like LeBron James, making the Cavaliers an appealing pick as far as odds for the upcoming playoff games. With LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love at the forefront of the roster, the team is currently in what’s become known as its “Big Three Era.”

Another win, and the Cavaliers are likely to find themselves facing off against the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls recently won a close game against Milwaukee, ultimately prevailing with a final score of 92-81. Jimmy Butler led the way, scoring 31 points. The game was defensive for the Milwaukee Bucks from the outset, but Chicago’s game really picked up in the second quarter. Chicago’s ten point lead was largely the work of Butler, who’s shaping up to be their strongest player this season. The Bulls versus Bucks game really drove home Butler’s considerable skill, making it clear that he can help make the Bulls a force to be reckoned with. This game had a relatively low score, and progressed at a decidedly low pace.

Later on, the Cavs could also potentially find themselves matched up against the Atlanta Hawks. Finishing as #1 seed, the Hawks are widely favored in their match up against the Nets. One of the stronger teams this season, the Hawks have the potential to give the Cavaliers a run for their money. With their college style offense and aggressive defense, the Hawks have the capacity to beat Cleveland. However, with Cleveland’s “Big Three” at the helm, the games will certainly be quite close, making it difficult to predict a clear winner out of this potential Eastern Conference Final match up.

Cleveland Cavaliers are Bookmakers Favorites to Win the Title

After a 21-5 run, Cleveland become the favorites to win 2015 NBA title, at least that’s what the people in all major sportsbooks think. Full report on

Top 10 according to Bovada:

Cleveland Cavaliers 9/4

Golden State Warriors  15/4

Oklahoma City Thunder 7/1

Atlanta Hawks 8/1

Memphis Grizzlies 9/1

San Antonio Spurs 9/1

Chicago Bulls 12/1

Los Angeles Clippers 18/1

Houston Rockets 25/1

Portland Trailblazers 25/1


Cavs and David Blatt are getting ready for Playoffs

Blatt can sense that the Eastern Conference is not threatening enough, but teams in construction period, such as Cleveland, are more vulnerable because they find it difficult to cope with the absence of one of their stars. In view of the expected load, the decision to LeBron , even if the price is a loss serves the ultimate goal which is to bring all stars healthy into the playoffs.

The Cavs had almost forgotten what it’s like to lose two games in a row. As in the previous losses in a row, a major reason for this is the absence of one or more of the stars of the team. In a week full of important moments and statements, may be the most obvious statement was the decision to give LeBron James to rest against Indiana, despite the fact that Kyrie Irving was also not available. The statement was that with all due respect to maintaining momentum and location struggles, the number one goal is to get Cleveland healthy to playoffs.

Additional factor that contributes to Cavs confidence is the recent developments of their rivals for 2-5 spots. Toronto and Washington increasingly fading, Chicago getting injured (not just Derek Rose, Jimmy Butler will miss several weeks). David Blatt can definitely feel that apart from Atlanta, a team that no one knows what can be expected from them during playoffs, no team in the East is threatening enough to disturb the Cavs at their current form.

If there is one aspect that bothers Blatt and the rest of the coaching team, is the health of the star players. . Kyrie and Kevin Love both prone to injuries during their careers, LeBron is not the Iron Man he was in his 20s and his body is beginning to generate random adversity. Teams during the first year of the construction process usually find it difficult to cope with the absence of one of leading players. This is exactly the case in Cleveland. David Griffin has dedicated this year to build the base for the next 3-4 years. Small adjustments he will perform next season. Untill then, Cleveland will remain more vulnerable to absence of key players than other teams.

Is Griffin could have done more? At some point probably yes. Cleveland was left without a third point guard, making every game without Kyrie extremely complicated. Having a player such as Nate Robinson or Will Bynum would certainly have helped, games vs. Indiana and Houston are a great example, and it was possible to get one of them.

Currently, if Kyrie absent the burden falls on Matthew Dellavedova and Iman Shumpert. Both had to do much more than what they’re used to and what they are supposed to, especially against the Pacers where LeBron did not play as well. The immediate result was a high number of turnovers and bad shots. On top of that, both had hard time to do the things that they usually do well.

With all the affection to the energetic Australian player, I’m sure that Blatt would be happy to have a guard on the bench that has ability to create shots for himself, particularly against Indiana.

But in the end, this debate will probably not be very important later on. Cavs are focused on one thing only, the championship, and if one of the big three will be injured for the playoffs, their chances to win the title are slim, just like any other team.

The most important minutes last week were the first five minutes of the fourth quarter in Houston. The third quarter was a war and at the end Houston came on top. James Harden helped the Rockets get an eight-point advantage and they seemed to be just another small push from closing the game. LeBron was taken out and it was clear that Houston are going to tie the ends. However, Dellavedova, Shumpert, JR Smith, James Jones and Tristan Thompson, without a single representative of the Big Three, brought Cleveland back into the games. Not just a game, but a playoff type, broadcasted coast to coast. When LeBron and Harden returned, it was only a point to Houston.

After the game, LeBron said that his teammates placed him in position to win the game and he did not deliver the goods. I’m sure he was referring to those five minutes, that helped him to come back and continue his battle against Harden. The feeling of LeBron that he has a team that he can go to war with, even against athletic and talented rivals, is much more important than the manner in which he lost this particular battle.

It is worth remembering that Dellavedova, Shumpert and Tristan are all young players with no playoff experience. Their ability to rise in difficult situations, where more than usual is required of them, will be of tremendous value in the future.

NBA Betting Odds 2015

Bovada bookmaker, one of the biggest USA Sports Betting Sites, made another update to it’s 2015 NBA Championship odds. As you might have guessed, Cavs odds continue to decrease.

During the summer, after LeBron and Love arrival, they were marked as the favorites with 4-1. After a slow 5W-7L start they went to 5-1. Then 6-1 in the end of year after and after the recent 6 in-a-row loosing streak they are standing at 7-1. Surprisingly, they are still rated as #4, however it won’t last, unless they manage to become a team vs. a group of All-Star players.

Luckily, they still have plenty of time to do that. With how the East conference looks this season, they actually have till June. With all the respect to the excellent season the Hawks have, it’s hard to imagine they will be able to perform on that level when it really matters.

The only team which presents a real threat are the Bulls. However, considering the frequent health problems and their instability, 5/1 odds are a bit surprising.

But again, it’s still to early. We will check back again in May to see where the Cavs stand. Meanwhile, here is the full list:

NBA Championship Betting Odds

Chicago Bulls 5/1

Golden State Warriors 5/1

San Antonio Spurs 13/2

Cleveland Cavaliers 7/1

Dallas Mavericks 8/1

Oklahoma City Thunder 17/2

Atlanta Hawks 12/1

Los Angeles Clippers 14/1

Houston Rockets 16/1

Memphis Grizzlies 16/1

Portland Trailblazers 16/1

Toronto Raptors 16/1

Washington Wizards 25/1

Detroit Pistons 50/1

Phoenix Suns 75/1

Miami Heat 100/1

New Orleans Pelicans 100/1

Milwaukee Bucks 150/1

Brooklyn Nets 250/1

Charlotte Hornets 300/1

Indiana Pacers 300/1

Boston Celtics 500/1

Denver Nuggets 500/1

Sacramento Kings 500/1

Los Angeles Lakers 1000/1

Orlando Magic 1000/1

Utah Jazz 1000/1

Minnesota Timberwolves 5000/1

New York Knicks 5000/1

Philadelphia 76ers 5000/1

Cleveland Cavaliers go All In

It’s a testament to how much a player truly means to a team’s culture when his mere presence causes a front office to scramble around and generally do whatever it takes in order to satisfy said player’s needs. For all the talks about change and title-chasing, it’s actually pretty rare for all that effort to pay off in the end: Carmelo Anthony barely managed to get his long-suffering Knicks to the second round of the playoffs for one season before tumbling back into mediocrity, to name just one recent example.

However, when said player is LeBron James, a four time league MVP and proud owner of two rings out of four consecutive trips to the NBA finals, one naturally tends to throw caution to the wind and just roll with it. After years of futility despite exceptional draft luck, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert finally took the keys to the franchise from Chris Grant and passed them on to David Griffin. Despite the savvy marketing ploy it seemed like at the time, there’s no doubt that bringing back LeBron required quite a little bit of finagling behind the scenes.

First off, there was the promise of coupling him with the Cavs star point guard, Kyrie Irving, while also bringing an All-Star power forward by the name of Kevin Love on board. These players would form the nucleus of what would hopefully become a new Big Three that would dominate the weaker Eastern conference, much like Miami had done before. Of course it took giving away two former number one picks plus a host of other assets to assemble such a roster (which included LeBron stalwarts Mike Miller and James Jones, as well as the artist formerly known as The Matrix, Shawn Marion), and even then both Love and LeBron signed contracts with opt-out clauses that would allow them to become free agents after this season’s conclusion.

So when the Cavs stumbled out of the gate, with a porous defense and non-existent rim protection, both of which became exponentially worse after Anderson Varejao went down with a season-ending injury, it became clear that the team’s weaknesses needed to be addressed. Enter Timofey Mozgov. Having been coached to great results by Cavs head coach David Blatt in the Olympics, Mozgov had to be pried away from the Denver Nuggets, who wanted two first round picks for him, while the Cavs only had one to offer. But by shipping off Dion Waiters to Oklahoma City (thus getting their first round pick in exchange) and taking on both Iman Shumpert and J.R Smith from the Knicks, the Cavs managed to engineer a complex three team trade that allowed them to mortgage most of their assets in exchange for the Russian big man. They also acquired a wing player known for his defensive tenacity (Shumpert) and a talented if mercurial shooter (J.R. Smith). Considering all the smaller bits and pieces that had to be moved around, that amounts to 9 Cavs trades in 11 months for GM David Griffin, who still has Cleveland’s first round pick in 2015 and has otherwise done pretty much everything possible to ensure that this LeBron-led team will be ready for title contention as soon as possible.

Of course, big splashy trades don’t necessarily guarantee titles. In the NBA, as in life, hindsight is always 20/20, but that doesn’t help anybody without access to a fully-functioning crystal ball.

Cavs Winning Odds 2015

In August, Cavs were marked as the favorites to win the league with 4-1 odds. Quite strange considering the fact that it was a completely new team with a rookie NBA coach. Cavs recent poor results haven’t gone unnoticed by major sports books.

Bovada ranks Cavaliers on the 4th spot with 6-1 odds. First spots feature Chicago Bulls and Golden State Warriors with 5-1 odds and the Spurs with 11-2.

Sportsbook still list Cavs as the overall favorites with 5/1, followed by Golden State, Chicago and San Antonio. Meanwhile, Atlanta, despite their amazing half season results and 9 successive wins over West conference teams, still languishing at 16/1. The surprising winning streak of Detroit Pistons brought them to the 16th spot with 150/1 (500/1 in the previous update).

Eastern conference

All major bookmakers place Cavs and Bulls as the favorites with 2/1 and 11/5 odds. Cleveland start 2015 as a new team and no one knows if they manage to become a team before the playoffs. Chicago proven to be a rather fragile team when it comes to injuries. Betting on Atlanta gives nice risk vs. reward with 4-1 odds.

Western Conference

Here most rate Golden State, Oklahoma and San Antonio as the favorites. Surprisingly OKC rated before the Spurs with 19/5 vs. 4/1.

Bottom Line

It seems that despite the disappointing 19W-18L and the fact that they start 2015 as a completely new team, many still believe that LeBron’s team has what it takes to lift the trophy. We hope they’re right, but David Blatt has a lot of work to do on the way.


3 Reasons Why Timofey Mozgov Will Thrive in Cleveland

Cleveland Cavaliers GM David Griffin was recently the catalyst in one of the biggest trades of the progressing NBA season. For two future first round picks, the Cavs got the center Timofey Mozgov from the Denver Nuggets. Critics call it an expensive transaction for an average rim protector who doesn’t average double-digit rebounds on a nightly basis. But there is a reason insiders have reported that the Cavaliers coveted Mozgov. He is no all-star, but like the majority of the players, finding the right system and environment can enable them to thrive. Here are three reasons why Mozgov is the actually an ideal fit for Cleveland.

1.  An Understanding of the Offensive System and Coach

Cleveland Cavalier’s coach David Blatt had an excellent relationship with Mozgov in Russia (Blatt coached Mozgov at St. Petersburg in the Russian Basketball League ) and with superior players like LeBron James and Kevin Love who specialize in threading the needle with great passing, Mozgov will likely benefit from high percentage shots near the basket. Look for his current points per game average (8.7 ppg) to take a bump into the low double digits.

Mozgov is also an above average pick-and-roll center, and Blatt’s Princeton-style offense can suit a mobile center like Mozgov, who at 7-1 is a lean 250 pounds.

2.  Mozgov Will Add Balance to the Cavalier Front Court

After Anderson Varejao went down with another season ending injury, the minutes have piled up for power forward/center Tristan Thompson, who is beginning to wear down. Mozgov will likely take over for Thompson and take on the role of starter. This will enable Thompson to grab rebounds and contribute to the Cavs’ second team. All-Star Kevin Love will also greatly benefit from this move as well, as he will have less responsibility playing center. Love will be able to roam the three point line and crash the boards while Mozgov protects the rim.

3.  Mozgov Fills Immediate Need for Frontcourt Defense

Mozgov falls into the middle of the pack when it comes to defensive centers in the NBA, but for the Cavalier’s he’s a sure upgrade. The Cavaliers have struggled mightily in front court and back court defense. Mozgov’s 1.2 blocks per game and 7.8 rebounds per game will not turn the Cavs into a lock down defensive team, but he will add some respectability.

To some, the Mozgov trade is an afterthought to the mega trade pulled off earlier this week. However to insiders, Mozgov’s value is much higher than the consensus. He may not show an individually eye-opening improvement, but expect the Cavs to start winning games they would previously lose.

Cavs net J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert

Finally, the Cavs managed to get to the winter. These pale days of the mid-season. That means that you have few teams finished this season, looking at the draft and placed the “yard sale, everything must go!” signs. Dallas took Rondo, Houston picked up the Trojan horse Josh Smith, and Cleveland offered a humanitarian shelter to two Knicks refugees, Iman Amfert and JR Smith.

There are 2 possible gainers from this trade, Cavs are one them. They might just get the boost they needed to save their season, or at least to give David Blatt more time to see if he can turn this ship around.

JR Smith is far from being a humble school boy and has his destructive tendencies, however his best season were in Denver and the Knicks when they were playoff struggles. During those periods no one focused on Smith’s nonsense, but only on his ability to get off the bench and break rivals with 20 points in the final quarter.

Cavs still have the potential to finish the season with 50 wins, and they will be in the playoffs even with SpongeBob as a coach. Smith, who trains with LeBron during the summer (they know each other from high school), is an unstable scorer which doesn’t contribute in any other aspect of the game, but when he is hot, he can be worth few win. Don’t forget, it’s only been two years since he was elected as the sixth player of the season.

The other part of this trade is Iman Shumpert. Iman, which is still recovering from a shoulder injury, is the ideal player to complement the Cavs starting lineup. He can lead the ball in the offence and he is a quick and physical in defense. He takes only 6-7 shots per game and he is the guy that is first to every loose ball. Iman automatically becomes the best perimeter guard in Cavs roster. If he will manage to fuel Kyrie’s motivation, Cavs defense will improve drastically. The main drawback here is that for a relatively young player, he has a long history of injuries.

Bottom line: This trade did not solve Cavs main problem, but it is a step forward.