LeBron James & the Cavs fell short in the NBA Finals, losing to the Warriors in six. It's never too early to look ahead, though - let's look over Cleveland's NBA futures odds listing and the team's chances next season.
What an up-and-down season it was for the Cavaliers.
Of course, expectations were sky-high heading into the season, as LeBron James announced he was returning home and Kevin Love was also added to give Cleveland a legitimate "Big Three". The Cavaliers were one of the top favorites on the NBA futures odds list, and were widely expected to compete for a championship, even in spite of expected chemistry issues.
Unfortunately, injuries were a huge obstacle along the way for Cleveland. All of the team's top players battled through various ailments at some point in the season. Anderson Varejao was lost for the season very early on, while Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love missed extended time too; even LeBron himself had to take a two-week break to rest up and re-gain his health and strength.
Those setbacks made it incredibly difficult for the Cavs to find their groove until late on in the season, but alas they were able to get their big guns back and all healthy at the same time in the closing stages. That's when Cleveland really kicked it into high gear, closing out the regular season as arguably the hottest team in the NBA after a shaky start.
Once again, however, injuries got in the way come playoff time. Love was ruled out after injuring his shoulder, and then Irving was lost in Game 1 of the NBA Finals due to a torn kneecap. As a result, LeBron had to take on an unheard level of responsibility offensively, posting out-of-this world numbers and a staggeringly high usage rate; after all, that was the only way the Cavaliers were going to be able to keep up with the potent Warriors. After a very promising start to the Finals, which saw them take a 2-1 lead, Cleveland would go on to lose the next three games, falling in six to the champions.
The fact Cleveland was even able to reach the Finals in spite of the injury obstacles they faced was astounding in and of itself. But, that's what happens when you have the best player in the world (just ask him) on your side.
And, even though it's a haunting feeling to lose in the Finals, the future is certainly bright for the Cavs. We know LeBron is sticking around in hopes of finally bringing a championship to his hometown, and you have to figure Irving is only going to get better and better, assuming he returns from this injury as the same player. The big question mark is Love, but for now it seems relatively safe to predict he'll be back with the team as well. After all, we didn't really get a chance to see the full-strength Cavaliers when it mattered most, and staying in Cleveland will give the big man as good of a chance to win a title as anywhere else would.
That being said, there is going to be expectations that this team not only perform in 2015/16, but win it all. A lot of money has been spent in hopes of bringing a championship to the city, and oddsmakers have already pinned the Cavs as the top dogs on the futures list for next season.
With such great expectations comes immense pressure, and another failed run at the title in 2015/16 could end up bringing with it some major changes to the franchise. There would be some drastic personnel changes (players and coaching staff alike) and the core of the group would surely be overhauled as well, with the only likely constants being LeBron and Irving.
Either way, it's going to be fascinating to see the drama unfold for King James and company in what could very well be a do-or-die season.