Despite a tough effort from the Pacers, Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers swept Indiana in four games to move onto the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. They will play the winner of the Raptors and Bucks series.
There is little doubt out there that the Cavaliers will advance into the Eastern Conference Finals against either team, but the Cavs remain vulnerable. They weren’t great on defense in the first round and that could play into them being a poor ATS wager in the next round after going 2-2 ATS against Indiana.
Lebron James’ First Round Sweeps
Lebron James has been a machine sweeping his first round opponents since he started winning NBA Championships. James has swept his first round opponent now three straight seasons with the Cavs, making his streak five years in a row he has swept the first round after doing it in his last two years with the Heat.
After beating one another up in the first round, no matter who advances to the second round to face a rested Cavaliers, another sweep might not be out of the question. Without Jabari Parker the Bucks are good but not great and the Raptors are proving that while they are good, they have some noticeable holes.
However, even though their opponent has holes in their game, the Cavaliers’ defense looks to have some Swiss cheese level holes. We saw it to close out the regular season as they were struggling to secure the number one overall seed, but in the playoffs it got worse at times, despite the fact that they were still able to win all four games against an Indiana team that was worse on defense than they were.
Whether it’s the Raptors or Bucks, both are better on defense than Cleveland and if it’s Milwaukee, I could see this series going long. The Cavs’ defense gave up 111 points per 100 possessions in the first round and if they play that poor on defense in the second, things could get into nail-biting status for those betting on the Cavaliers to repeat as champs.
Updated Future Odds
After sweeping their first round series, the Cavaliers are now -300 to win the Eastern Conference from Bovada sportsbook. They are +300 to win it all behind only the Golden State Warriors at -225, but even at 3/1 Cleveland seems a bit overvalued.
They are almost a lock to make it to the Finals, which helps a lot. The Teams in the West don’t have that luxury at all other than the Warriors, who are just that damn good.
At this point the wildcard in the East is the Wizards, a team that could get past the Hawks and Celtics to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals. While they may still lose, their NBA Odds of 9/1 right now to win the East is the biggest upside play. John Wall is a superstar and the Wizards are deep with talent both up front and in the backcourt. If they make it past Atlanta, I think they can beat Boston and give Cleveland a run for their money as things currently stands.
That obviously makes the Cavs nowhere close to a safe bet this season, especially at odds of -300 to advance to another NBA Finals.