The Cleveland Cavaliers have added LeBron James and Kevin Love to a lineup that already had Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. How does the addition of Miller affect the NBA odds? Let’s examine this topic
What This Means for the Cavaliers
In the 2011 through 2013 seasons, Mike Miller got to know LeBron James as a member of the Miami Heat. Miller played for the Washington Wizards in the 2010 season, but when LeBron came to Miami, so did Miller. The partnership everyone naturally focused on in Miami was the Big Three of LeBron, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, but Miller and other guys such as Ray Allen (in 2013) and Udonis Haslem (all three years) worked their way into the picture, making the valuable kinds of role-player contributions without which the Heat couldn’t have made three straight finals in those three seasons, while winning two titles. It was Miller who rained in a bunch of three-pointers in Game 5 of the 2012 NBA Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder, helping LeBron to win his first title and earning King James’ gratitude so much that when the King went back to Cleveland this offseason, he made it a priority to lobby for Miller and have him join the new and souped-up version of the Cavs.
Is LeBron just wanting to play with a buddy, or is there a deeper reason why Miller was seen as a valuable get for the Cleveland organization? The numbers seem to back up LeBron’s case, in other words, his belief that Miller is a valuable player, not just a friend who will make the season go by a little more pleasantly.
Miller’s body seemed to be made of glass during his stay in Miami. He played in only 41 games in the 2011 season, just 39 in the 2012 regular season. He was always getting injured, and at times, he seemed to be buried on the Heat’s bench, but when he came alive in the 2012 NBA Finals, he seemed to break free of the idea that he was a marginal player. His defense against the San Antonio Spurs in the 2013 NBA Finals was solid enough that it gave him a significant presence on the floor. Miller had already become a better player when he left Miami for the Memphis Grizzlies for the 2013-2014 season, a move driven by the Heat’s decision to cut him loose and save a lot of money down the line, a move that ultimately backfired no matter how cost-wise it might have been.
Now, what about that 2014 season with Memphis? Miller avoided injury. He played all 82 games, a stunning achievement in itself. You might think Miller’s averages would have suffered. No, they did not. His shooting percentage went from 43 to 48, his three-point percentage from 42 to 46. He averaged 5.5 more minutes per game, 20.8 up from 15.3. He averaged more than seven points a game, up from 4.8 in 2013.
How to Bet the News
This is an excellent addition by the Cavs and makes it more tempting to lay the -125 with them to win the Eastern Conference. Miller is clearly not the most important get of the offseason, of course, but with Kevin Love and LeBron both being great passers, they can and will find Miller for open looks, giving Cleveland a lot of balance. The Cavs were 18th in three-point shooting last season and should be vastly improved.
Not much separate the Cavs and the Chicago Bulls but this tips the scales in Cleveland’s favor some more. Betting on the Cavs as part of your NBA picks is a LeBron and Love-based reason, but Miller will improve this team in ways other players would not have been able to do.