Cleveland Cavaliers 2019-20 Betting Predictions, Odds, and Expert Best Bets
Best Bet: Under 24.5 Wins (-120)
Worst Bet: To Win the Eastern Conference (+15000)
The Cleveland Cavaliers were not exactly in the business of winning basketball games last season. They were not alone, either, as several other teams tried to position themselves nicely in the Zion Williamson sweepstakes. With a 19-63 record, they were among the three worst teams in the NBA (tied for second-to-last to be specific) and therefore were in the nicest spot–along with New York and Phoenix–to win the lottery. Of course, that did not happen. The Cavaliers got bumped down to the No. 5 pick (drafted Vanderbilt guard Darius Garland), so their tank plan did not pay dividends.
That is not to say that the Cleveland players failed to give it their all. They just were not any good, playing on a roster that management had no intention of seeing in the playoffs. Playoffs?!?! The Cavaliers never came close to being in contention or even sniffing a winning record. They started out 0-6, 1-11, and 2-14, and did not compile a single three-game winning streak the entire season. With LeBron James having bolted for the Lakers, Cleveland was comprised of a motley crew of characters–aside from veteran all-star Kevin Love. The list included Lakers castaways Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson in addition to Tristan Thompson, Cedi Osman, rookie Collin Sexton, and whole host of veterans who were traded away at various points during the 2018-19 campaign.
Clearly in a rebuilding process that will take several more years at least, Cleveland did not exactly overhaul its roster this offseason. Instead, the biggest change comes at head coach. Former University of Michigan mastermind John Beilein has arrived to test his hand in the NBA following a long, successful career at the college level. At his disposal will be Love, Nance, Clarkson, Thompson, Osman, Sexton, Matthew Dellavedova, and Nik Stauskas, among others. Beilein’s official tenure began before the lottery when the franchise was still hoping to land Williamson. Now, his job will be even tougher than initially advertised…. And it was never going to be easy.
Cavaliers Win Total: O/U 24.5
Can the Cavaliers improve by five games? They will have to in order for anyone who backs the over to win this bet. It is by no means out of the question since even a 25-57 record is atrocious, but it also is unlikely at best. Love and Thompson have a lot of wear and tear on their bodies, even though they are both at least six years younger than recently-retired teammate Channing Frye. They would be role players on any playoff team, but in Cleveland they may have to shoulder more than their fair share of the load. Other than Love and Thompson, Beilein will be working with a backcourt-heavy youth movement. Although Sexton showed signs of promise by averaging 16.2 points per game in 2018-19, his assist-to-turnover ratio was far from spectacular (3.0-to-2.3). Garland obviously has great potential, but on paper he is not expected to be an instant-impact kind of performer like Williamson (New Orleans) or to a lesser extent Ja Morant (Memphis) and R.J. Barrett (New York).
The Cavaliers cannot possibly start out as bad as they did last season. Stability on the coaching sidelines, which they did not have this past year, will only help. But the talent level simply is not there; even owner Dan Gilbert has to admit that fact. Cleveland is still miles from being a playoff contender and they are probably more than a season away from even winning 25 basketball games. The under is the smart play, and also a good one.
Odds to Make the Playoffs: Yes +700, No -1000
For a fifth consecutive season without LeBron (also 2010-11 through 2013-14), the Cavaliers missed the playoffs. Well, LeBron ain’t walkin’ through that door this season, either. There is no reason to think that Cleveland will be much better than it was in 2018-19. This team did little in free agency and although Beilein is quite clearly a good basketball coach, he does not appear to be a miracle worker. Belein and company at least have a prayer due to being in the Eastern Conference instead of the West, but it’s just that: a prayer. As if the Cavaliers, themselves, are not bad enough to determine the outcome of this “make the playoffs” bet, consider the competition. The four Atlantic Division playoff representatives from 2018-19 (Toronto, Philadelphia, Boston, and Brooklyn) are all locks; Milwaukee and Indiana will come out of the Central Division; Atlanta, which could win the Southeast Division, is likely on much more rapid rise than Cleveland. There just aren’t a lot of playoff openings; if there are any, the Cavaliers are not the ones to grab a spot. That being said, -1000 odds on “no” are not particularly enticing. Avoid this one.
Odds to Win the Central Division: +15000
Look no further than the fact that Cleveland has the same odds in both the Central Division and entire Eastern Conference to know that any kind of title is not happening. This squad has no chance in the division, no chance in the conference, and no chance in the overall NBA. If everything goes right, Cleveland could finish third in the division. But even in a perfect world the Cavaliers are not going to finish ahead of Milwaukee and Indiana. The Bucks are favored to win the East and the Pacers should be back in the mix with Victor Oladipo returning from injury. Odds of +15000 are not going to make anyone bite. In fact, I would even stay away from +15000000000 odds.
Odds to Win the Eastern Conference: +15000
This is the worst possible play when it comes to the Cavaliers. Yes, they have the same odds of winning the entire Eastern Conference as they do of simply taking the Central Division title. Neither, of course, is happening. They are not beating Milwaukee in the Central and they are not upsetting Milwaukee, Philadelphia, or Boston (the list could go on and on) in the playoffs. Do nothing more than laugh at the prospect of being offered +15000 to pick Cleveland in the East.
Odds To Win NBA Championship: +50000
“Are you serious, Clarke?” That would by response to anyone claiming to put money on the Cavaliers as NBA champions. There is no reason to do it; not even at +50000. Sure, it’s a more fun bet so to speak than picking them win just the Central or the East, but it’s almost as awful. Just think how bad some team like the Lakers, Clippers, or Rockets would beat Cleveland in the NBA Finals. It’s actually funny to think about. Putting a title bet down on the Cavaliers isn’t even funny.