Cavs’ steady approach gives them good odds at several awards

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Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland (10) celebrates with guard Donovan Mitchell (45) during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics, Monday, March 6, 2023, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
As the NBA regular season approaches the final month, it appears that the Cleveland Cavaliers are comfortably positioned as the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference with a likely showdown against the New York Knicks (three games back) or Brooklyn Nets (four games back).
Cleveland (42-26) is riding a three-game win streak and will be looking to extend it Friday night in a road game against the Miami Heat.
Miami, which is currently the seventh seed in the East, are 2-point favorites (-115) in a game that could be considered a must-win. The Heat are -135 on the money line. The Cavaliers are +115 money-line underdogs and -105 with the points. The total points in the game are set at 212.5.
Friday’s game is the second leg of a rare back-to-back against the same team in the same location. The Cavaliers beat the Heat 104-100 on Wednesday behind a balanced attack with all five starters in double figures. “The grit and the resilience that we showed…it was an ugly fourth quarter for both teams,” Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “These are two really good defenses, but I thought our guys did a good job of maintaining their poise and being able to come out with the win.” Bickerstaff credited big man Jarrett Allen (15 points, 12 rebounds) for controlling the game defensively.“He was a dominant force defensively in the fourth quarter and on the boards,” Bickerstaff added. “Last time we had a hard time with them on the boards, so shout out to ‘J’ for sure.”
The Cavaliers are getting plenty of respect among the bettors. Cleveland opened as a 2-point favorite Wednesday, which closed to one point before tip-off. The Cavaliers were -120 favorites on the money line.
Looking at the futures odds, Cleveland is +4000 to win the NBA Championship at FanDuel Sportsbook, those are the Cavs’ best odds to win a title since LeBron James suited up for them. Surprisingly the Cavs are still behind the L.A. Lakers (+2800) in terms of odds, but that’s often the story of how more popular franchises can control the betting market. Cleveland is +1400 to win the Eastern Conference, putting the Cavaliers fourth behind the Boston Celtics (+130), Milwaukee Bucks (+190) and Philadelphia 76ers (+500).
On the individual side, Donovan Mitchell is one of the 10 players on the boards for NBA MVP, but he’s a long shot at +50000. Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic is the betting favorite to win his third consecutive MVP award at -380.
Bickerstaff is in the mix for Coach of the Year, hanging right outside of the top five at +1400.
Sacramento Kings coach Mike Brown is the favorite at -300 with Boston Celtics’ Joe Mazzulla (+250), Denver Nuggets’ Michael Malone (+400), Milwaukee’s Mike Budenholzer (+900) and New York’s Tom Thibodeau (+1000) rounding out the top five.

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