Cleveland Cavaliers betting preview: Odds say Cavs’ offseason will pay dividends

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Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell (45) drives against Philadelphia 76ers guard De'Anthony Melton (8) during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game, Monday, Oct. 10, 2022, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

The Cleveland Cavaliers will start the 2022-23 NBA season much differently than they did last season, and for the better.

The Cavaliers made the biggest trade of the NBA offseason when they acquired Donovan Mitchell from the Utah Jazz. Cleveland made the play-in tournament last season but was lacking a true go-to scorer. Adding Mitchell to a young team with an all-star like Darius Garland and future all-star in Evan Mobley has fans — and oddsmakers — optimistic.

Garland showed big-time potential in his first two years but put it together in Year 3 when he averaged 21.7 points and 8.6 assists. He is a combo guard who can control the game but will also be able to play off-ball and let Mitchell create as well.

Mobley is a highly skilled big-man who averaged 15.0 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.7 steals in his first year.

Add to those three big pieces guys like Caris LeVert, Kevin Love and Isaac Okoro, and this team has the star power and depth to contend for a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference.

The Cavaliers had a record of 44-38 last season, which was 22 more wins than the previous season (22-50 in a 72-game season in 2020-21). With the addition of Mitchell and the expectation the younger guys continue to improve, the Cavaliers have an over/under of 47.5 wins at Caesars Sportsbook. That is tied for-sixth in the Eastern Conference, trailing Boston at 53.5, Milwaukee 52.5, Philadelphia 51.5, Brooklyn 50.5 and Miami 48.5 and even with Toronto.

Cleveland’s NBA championship odds are +3000, which is sixth best in the Eastern Conference, trailing the Celtics, Bucks, Nets, 76ers and Heat). The Cavaliers are +1200 to win the Eastern Conference, and when it comes to making the playoffs, the odds absolutely expect this team to be playing well into the spring.

Cleveland is -320 to make the playoffs, and +250 to miss them at Caesars. These are odds for a team expected to reach the postseason as a top-six seed and not have to go on the road for a play-in game. It’s no surprise; for a time last year, the Cavaliers were sitting in a top-five seed in the East before limping to the finish line, in large part because of injuries.

When it comes to awards odds that could be tempting, one that jumps off the page is JB Bickerstaff as Coach of the Year. He is +1400, which is tied with the Suns’ Monty Williams, the Pelicans’ Willie Green and the Mavericks’ Jason Kidd for the seventh-best odds. The favorite is the Timberwolves’ Chris Finch (+950), followed by the Grizzlies’ Taylor Jenkins (+1000) and the Clippers’ Tyronn Lue (+1100).

However, Cleveland is one of those young teams that will win a lot of games and won’t hold back stars for load management. If the Cavaliers can get to 51-53 wins and a top-four seed in the East, Bickerstaff will have a great shot of winning that award.

After an impressive first year, Mobley has shown that he can compete to be the NBA Defensive Player of the Year. Familiar names like Rudy Gobert (+350), Giannis Antetokounmpo (+800) and Robert Williams (+1000) are ahead of him on the odds list, as well as Bam Adebayo (+650), but Mobley is fifth at +1100 and if the Cavaliers are going to reach their potential, it will be because Mobley takes a monster step to the next level.

One final bet that is interesting is the Cavaliers winning the Central Division at +260. The Bucks are the heavy favorite in that division at -245. However, Milwaukee is a very experienced team that most likely will be more concerned about staying healthy than securing a top seed. The Cavaliers, on the other hand, could look to gel more in the regular season and are more likely to push for a higher seed and not rest as many players.

— Mark Kern

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