NBA Futures: Which Eastern team is likely to beat the Cavs?
Eastern Teams Who Can Beat the Cavs
The king is either the most feared or most despised figure. King James remains the NBA's most polarizing figure simply because everyone's sick of him always making it to the NBA Finals.
James has made the Finals seven straight times mostly because the Eastern Conference has lacked worthy adversaries. But thanks to the craziest offseason, the King's throne is about to be usurped and the main perpetrator is no other than James's former brother-in-arms: Kyrie Irving.
The disgruntled guard set off a trade that sent him to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, and a couple of picks. With the trade, the Cavs lose their best shooter and closer while the Celtics finally found the missing piece that could push them over the hump. To complicate things further, Thomas is injured and won't suit up for the Cavs until midseason.
The Celtics enter the season lined at +244 to win the Eastern Conference (including the playoffs) in contrast to the Cavs' -153 line. Various media outlets like ESPN even predicted the Celtics to get the first seed like they did last year but now a year wiser and stronger, with significant additions in Irving and All-Star swingman Gordon Hayward, the Celtics are ready to return to the Finals.
Here's a look at other Eastern teams who could give the Cavs a run for their money...
Since the John Wall era, the Wizards have slowly but surely made progress and are coming off their best season in 38 years when they won 49 games and were one win away from making their first Conference Finals since 1979. It all aligns with the franchise player, four-time all-star John Wall.
The 2011 first overall pick averaged career highs in scoring (23.1), assists (10.7) and shooting (45.1 pct). Wall was a lowkey MVP candidate and at 27, he's just entering his prime.
Wall can play his lights off but he'll need the rest of his team to step up. His running mate Bradley Beal is also coming off his best year averaging 23.1 points per game on 48.2 percent shooting. The two are arguably the best backcourt in the conference but with no significant roster additions, it's up to the two to steer their team as far as they can take them.
The Raptors are either constantly underestimated or they constantly overperform. Canada's only team is entering season five of the Dwane Casey era and at worst, the team is a playoff team. At best? They'll have to overcome both the Celtics and Cavs and a trip to the NBA Finals may be there.
The backcourt of Kyle Lowry and Demar DeRozan has done wonders for the franchise and retaining Serge Ibaka while shedding some dead weight means the Raptors are as good as they can be.
If they are to achieve more, DeRozan needs to evolve past his limited mid-range game, Lowry needs to stay healthy, and every key role player especially Jonas Valanciunas needs to take their game to a new level.
The Bucks have yet to put together two consecutive winning seasons but expectations are high coming to this year. Giannis Antetokounmpo is a trendy MVP pick and he has the supporting cast to make it happen: last year's Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon, sharpshooter Khris Middleton, and Jabari Parker when he gets healthy.
The team will go as far as Antetokounmpo will take them but a team with a solid defensive core coached by one of the NBA's most brilliant minds should do more than just win 50 games.
They showed flashes of their brilliance last season but have yet to follow through. They may upset a few contenders during the regular season but to truly break through, they'll need a Superman performance from Antetokounmpo.
NBA Betting Lines
The Raptors aren't the only thing Canadians love about their basketball.
They enjoy a little side action and thankfully online sportsbooks are accessible to them as the local government lotteries take too much and give too little. These books also offer signup bonuses for new players and offer a lots of action to get into including NBA Props and futures, where players can get handsomely rewarded for their long-term visions.
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