2015 NBA Championship Odds to Win

stephen-curryIt took until the final day of the regular season to decide, but the NBA Playoffs are finally set. And this means that 2015 NBA Championships odds are now available too. Assuming you’re looking to place a bet on which team has the best chance to win it all, you can visit the GTBets.eu homepage and place your wager(s). Here’s a look at available odds (as of Apr. 17) for all 16 teams:

Golden State 9 to 5
Cleveland 11 to 5
San Antonio 4 to 1
Atlanta 17 to 2
Chicago 15 to 1
LA Clippers 18 to 1
Houston 22 to 1
Memphis 22 to 1
Dallas 50 to 1
Portland 60 to 1
Toronto 70 to 1
Washington 75 to 1
New Orleans 150 to 1
Boston 160 to 1
Milwaukee 160 to 1
Brooklyn 225 to 1

Quick Analysis

It’s no surprise that the Golden State Warriors carry the best odds of winning at our online sportsbook. After all, they won 67 games and finished 11 games ahead of every other team in the ridiculously brutal Western Conference. Plus, Golden State features Steph Curry, the 2015 MVP favorite who recently made more waves for making 77 straight three-pointers in practice.

lebron-james-bench-1One team that may or may not be a surprise – depending upon your viewpoint – is the Cleveland Cavaliers (11 to 5 odds). The Cavs became a preseason favorite to win the title when they added LeBron James and Kevin Love in the summer. However, they struggled throughout the first half of the season, sitting at 19-20 at one point. But LeBron helped rally the Cavs and they went 34-9 over the rest of the season and grabbed the East’s No. 2 seed.

It may be hard for some to take the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs at 4 to 1 odds. The Spurs were in a seesaw battle for the West’s No. 2 seed. Unfortunately, they lost their final game to New Orleans (who got into the playoffs due to this win), which dropped San Antonio all the way down to the No. 6 seed. That said, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan have a very difficult road ahead of them to win another title.

The Atlanta Hawks may be offering the best value right now at 17 to 2 odds. After all, they finished with the league’s second-best record at 60-22, and also earned the top seed in the Eastern Conference. And, sure, the Cavs are the hot pick to win the East right now. But don’t sleep on Atlanta with their home-court advantage and balanced team that’s led by point guard Jeff Teague.

joakim-noahThe Chicago Bulls carry the fifth-best odds of winning the championship at 15 to 1. It’s arguable if Chicago is the fifth-most talented team in the playoffs, at least when considering all of the injury problems that they’ve had so far. But they do have a chance to win the East if they can beat Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

The Toronto Raptors (70 to 1 odds) and Washington Wizards (75 to 1 odds) are two darkhorse teams that are looking to emerge from the Eastern Conference. However, their road to the title begins by facing each other in a series that may be too close to call right now.

Moving to the rest of the pack in the Western Conference, it’s a complete jumble. The Houston Rockets (22 to 1 odds) were able to grab the No. 2 seed on the last day of the regular season. But it seems that they’ll have to battle every step of the way, even in their first-round series against the Dallas Mavericks (50 to 1 odds).

The Memphis Grizzlies also have solid odds to win at 22 to 1, despite the fact that they open up the playoffs on the road against the Portland Trailblazers (60 to 1). Portland was able to gain first-round home-court advantage due to their Northwest Division title. However, they finished 51-31, which was actually only the sixth-best record in the West.

As you can see, there are certainly some very interesting matchups in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. And once the smoke clears from the opening round, we’ll be eight teams closer to deciding a champion this year.

Timofey Mozgov: The Unlikely Hero of the Cleveland Cavaliers

timofey-mozgov-cleveland-heroWhen Timofey Mozgov came over to the Cleveland Cavaliers from the Denver Nuggets, he was merely looked at as a good role player. In fact, the deal was heavily scrutinized because Cleveland gave up two first-round picks to obtain the 7’1″ big man. Nevertheless, a desperate Cavs team that was hovering around .500 in January made the deal in hopes of getting another piece to their championship contender.

Well, up to this point, Mozgov has been more than worth the deal by serving as the reliable, rim-protecting big man that Cleveland needed from the beginning. Paint protection is the key here because nobody on the Cavs roster fits the mold of a shot-blocking big man who can force tough shots inside. And before Mozgov came over from Denver, Cleveland was giving up 105.4 points per 100 possessions, which ranked eighth-worst in the league.

Mozgov may not be leading the league in blocks, but he is averaging 1.2 BPG and altering plenty of other shots. His inside defensive contributions certainly haven’t gone unnoticed either, especially by head coach David Blatt.

“Bringing Timo in was something we were looking at as early as this summer,” said Blatt, who first met Mozgov as coach of the Russian national team. “Because of my knowledge and experience with him, I knew he’d be a good fit for us — his pick-and-cut capability, size and ability to protect the rim.”

timofey-mozgov-cleveland-hero-1One look at the stats will show how much Cleveland has changed on the defensive end of the floor. This team is allowing 101 points per 100 possessions, which is over four points better than before the Russian big man. Furthermore, opposing teams are shooting just 48% in the paint against Mozgov.

Timofey has a simple explanation for his success in this department: “It’s real simple – as the big guy, you’re supposed to protect the rim.”

Cavaliers associate head coach Tyronn Lue had a little more analysis on the subject, citing how their defensive scheme is much better. “We’ve changed our defense since Timo got here,” said Tyronn Lue. “We now scheme around always having a big man near the basket. His weakside awareness has really surprised me. He’s so good at tagging cutters as they come through and reading pindowns and screen. He’s got an incredible basketball IQ.”

Lue added that the team was always looking to keep their center in the paint, rather than getting out on pick-and-rolls. And Mozgov made this transition much easier.

But the 7-footer isn’t just good at disrupting shots inside because Mozgov has also improved this team on offense, despite not being a great outside shooter and averaging a modest 10.6 PPG. “They call me a good roller, but I don’t know, I just do what I do,” he explained. “I don’t do anything special. You set a good screen, you’ll be open.”

Whatever Mozgov is doing, it’s helped his team out a lot. The Cavs are averaging 105.5 points per 100 possessions without Mozgov on the court, and 111.5 points when he is in the game. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that he’s shooting 58.7% as a member of the Cavaliers.

Now, with Cleveland having wrapped up the Eastern Conference’s second seed, the challenge for Mozgov will be entering his second-career playoff run. The first one with Denver didn’t last long, but the Cavaliers are expected to go much deeper, thanks to a trio of stars in LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.

And while Mozgov certainly won’t be mentioned in the same breath as these three, he, along with J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert, is definitely a very important addition who’ll help the Cavs immensely in the 2015 postseason.

Cleveland Cavaliers Betting: LeBron James promises to come off Bench if needed

lebron-james-benchEven going back to his days as a teenage rookie, LeBron James has never come off the bench during his 11-year NBA career. However, King James volunteered to do so if that’s what his team needs to win. And he cited teammate Tristan Thompson’s willingness to do so as reason why he would also make the same sacrifice. Here’s a look at what he told reporters following today’s practice about the matter:

“Whatever benefits the team, I’m for. Tristan [Thompson] is the same. And the rest of the guys are starting to understand that. I think we’re getting it. I think we understand that, at the end of the day, not one individual has ever won a championship. It’s all about a team. For me, being the leader of the team, it doesn’t matter, whatever this team needs in order for us to win.

“I’ll come off the bench. I’m serious. I’ll come off the bench and, if it helps our team, that’s what it’s about. It’s about a team and how we all fit together, how the five guys on the court fit together, how the eight guys or 10 guys on the bench all help the guys that’s on the floor, and so on and so on. So, sacrifice is the biggest word in team sports, but it’s not about saying it. It’s about doing it. It’s about living it.”

lebron-james-bench-1Cleveland is on an 11-game winning streak right now, and James is averaging 26.2 points, 7.4 assists and 5.6 rebounds so far. So there’s not much chance that he’ll really be coming off the bench any time soon. However, his point is that he’s willing to do anything to ensure that the Cavs keep winning.

As alluded to before, center/power forward Thompson has needed to make a big sacrifice, vacating his starting spot in favor of 7-footer Timofey Mozgov. And so far, Thompson is still playing well in a reduced role. Veterans James Jones, Shawn Marion and Mike Miller have also seen their playing time fluctuate as head coach David Blatt tinkers the lineup to find the perfect combination.

Perfection is definitely a hard thing to come by in the NBA. However, it appears that the Cavs are getting closer after making new additions like Mozgov, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert. This new influx of defensive and scoring (Smith) talent puts Cleveland in a much better position to contend for a title now, which has been the goal ever since LeBron decided to come home.

Cleveland Cavaliers are winning, and J.R. Smith is the Reason why

jr-smith-cavaliersThe Cleveland Cavaliers are currently on a seven-game winning streak and one obvious reason why is LeBron James’ return from an injury two weeks ago. A less-stated reason why: J.R. Smith’s move from New York to Cleveland.

Since joining the Cavs 10 games ago, Smith has seen his production increase from 10.9 PPG and 40.2% shooting with the Knicks, to 15.2 PPG and 41.7% shooting with the Cavaliers. His three-point shooting (38.8%), free-throw shooting (81.8%) and steals (1.5) are also noticeably up with his new team.

Obviously the Cavs appreciate Smith and vice versa, so what’s the big change? For starters, he’s taking more shots from behind the arc, which has led to an improvement. He took 35.9% of his shots from three-point land in New York, but has increased that amount to 61.9% in Cleveland. The fact that Kevin Love is posting up and kicking it out to Smith on the wings has definitely helped his game recently.

A larger part of why the 10-year veteran is flourishing is that he no longer has the distraction of New York. In an interview with NBA.com, Smith discussed how NYC’s nightlife made his mind drift away from basketball a little too much. Here’s one excerpt from the interview:

jr-smith-cavaliers-1“I think this is the best situation for me, ’cause there’s nothing but basketball. There’s nothing you expect but basketball. There’s nothing, there’s no going out, there’s no late nights. There’s video games, basketball and basketball. So it’s a great thing, ’cause I go back to where I came from. When I grew up, I never, I wasn’t allowed to go out. I missed my prom because I went to an AAU tournament, and all that stuff. For me, it was basketball, basketball, basketball.

And then when I got in the situation where I was at an early age, it was more, alright, let me see what this life is about, as opposed to just keep going. So now, I get the chance to get back to my roots.”

Another point Smith made is that, due to going out so much in New York, he wasn’t getting enough rest. However, now that he’s in Cleveland and not dealing with a bunch of distractions, Smith believes that things are much better.

Considering that the Cavaliers are already loaded on offense with Kyrie Irving, James and Love, Smith should continue getting plenty of good looks throughout the rest of the season.

Now, the big question is if the Cavs can continue playing good defense. During the seven-game win streak, they’ve held opponents to 47.3% shooting – much better than the 53.3% shooting in the first seven games of January. Assuming they can keep this solid defense up, then their odds of winning the championship increase dramatically.

Cleveland Cavaliers Betting: Kevin Love not leaving

kevin-love-staying-clevelandAny illusions of the Cleveland Cavaliers and their new Big 3 dominating right out of the gate and trampling all opponents in the way have been disbanded. Does that mean they’re no longer capable of winning the NBA title this season? Absolutely not, but the slow start does show that Cleveland needs more time to gel together.

If you’re listening to NBA rumors, though, the team won’t have much time to gel with Kevin Love. Whispers have persisted that he’ll leave the Cavaliers at the end of the season, rather than sign a long-term deal with the team. Most of these rumors have him landing in Los Angeles (Lakers) since he’s from there. In any case, the idea that Love won’t be in Cleveland past the 2014-15 season continues to grow.

But there’s only one person who can truly decide where the 6’10” power forward is going, and that’s Love himself. During an appearance on the “Mike and Mike” show, Love made sure to point out that he has no plans of leaving the Lake Erie area:

“If I could end all the speculation now, I would. But people are going to continue to talk no matter what. I just want to continue getting better with this team long term. I’m a Cleveland Cavalier.”

Part of the speculation surrounding Love comes from the fact that he won’t commit to a deal now. However, we don’t expect this to happen because he’s only eligible for a smaller two-year deal. But if Love waits until the offseason, he can sign a five-year extension with the Cavs worth up to $107 million.

kevin-love-staying-cleveland-1Of course, this isn’t to say that it’s 100% guaranteed he’ll be in the wine and gold next season. A large part of what Love plans to do hinges on how the team performs. But if the latest results are any indication, he could very well be playing alongside Kyrie Iving and LeBron James years into the future.

The team is currently riding a 6-game winning streak, including tonight’s win over the first-place Toronto Raptors. Sure some of these wins have come against bottom-feeders like the Orlando Magic and Milwaukee Bucks. But there have also been victories over the Wizards, Pacers, Knicks and Raptors – all leaving Cleveland with a respectable 11-7 record right now

Perhaps just as important is that Love is playing much better and gelling with his teammates. Through the season’s first 12 games, he was only averaging 16.5 PPG and shooting 40% from the field. During the 6-game win streak, Love is scoring 22.0 PPG and shooting 62% from the field.

This could be the big difference in why Cleveland is doing so much better as of late. Before, their Big 3 scoring punch was missing a crucial element with Love bricking 60% of his shots. But as we’d expect from a two-time NBA second-teamer, he’s finally getting that shooting percentage up and knocking down 50% from beyond the arc during the streak.

The arrow is pointing up for Cleveland from here on out. So it’s not entirely unreasonable to think that they at least get to the NBA Championship game. And this should be more than enough to keep Love in a Cleveland uniform.

Carmelo to Bulls? Rose would rather have Kevin Love

carmelo-anthony-knicksEverybody has their eye on Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love this summer. Anthony has chosen to opt out of the final year of his Knicks contract, meaning he can test the free agency waters. Love still has another year to go in Minnesota, but the Timberwolves are trying to trade him so they at least get something before he leaves through free agency next summer. Interestingly enough, these two stars are inadvertently crashing at one destination.

Anthony is very intrigued by the Chicago Bulls at this point, at least for appearances sake. New York Daily News’ Mitch Lawrence believes that opting out of a contract and making serious inquires about the Bulls could be smoke and mirrors to get the best deal possible in New York. Whether that proves to be the case or not remains to be seen. But by opting out of his final year with the Knicks, Melo has at least put the possibility out there that he could play in Chicago next year.

Not Every Bull is thrilled

One guy who’s been openly campaigning for Carmelo in the Windy City is the team’s center, Joakim Noah. He’s been calling the All-Star small forward in an effort to recruit him to Chicago. However, Anthony has yet to return any of these phone calls, possibly because he was still under contract up until this point.

derrick-rose-bullsIt’s obvious that Noah is doing his best to add another elite scorer to the Chicago lineup. However, if Melo doesn’t end up with the Bulls, Derrick Rose is one player who won’t be throwing in the towel. Here’s a look at what Lawrence wrote about Rose’s opinion regarding Melo:

Noah will be disappointed if it turns out that Anthony uses the Bulls merely to get Dolan to up the Knicks’ offer. But one of his teammates won’t be crushed. Derrick Rose hasn’t called Anthony once and isn’t expected to do any recruiting when the Bulls make their run at the Knicks’ top scorer in free agency.

According to sources close to Kevin Love, Rose’s preference is for the Bulls to work out a deal as soon as possible for Minnesota’s All-Star forward because he sees Love as more of a team player than Anthony. Chicago is in the mix with Golden State for Love, with Boston and Denver considered long shots. If it makes any difference to Melo, Rose has no plans to recruit Love, who is free next summer, either. But the Bulls already know whom he’d really prefer to play with in the future.

What would it take to get Love?

kevin-love-minnesotaThis is the first that we’ve heard of Kevin Love having any ties to the Chicago Bulls. So far, the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics have been pursuing him pretty hard through a trade, while several other teams have shown interest. Putting Love alongside Noah and Rose, who’s expected to finally be 100% next season, would be a pretty dangerous combination. But the Timberwolves certainly aren’t giving Love away without getting plenty in return.

So what would Chicago have to give up to get him? Any deal would begin with rising power forward Taj Gibson, who played well in the playoffs last year. The Bulls could also dangle Spanish power forward Nikola Mirotic, whom they have the NBA rights to. Mirotic has top-5 pick value, but the challenge would be convincing him to leave Real Madrid for the cold and foreign confines of Minnesota.

The Celtics and Warriors are also trying to put together enticing packages and land Love in a trade. Boston may not be willing to give up any immediate pieces as attractive as Gibson or Mirotic, but they do have a treasure trove of first-round draft picks, with nine coming in the next five years. GM Danny Ainge has reportedly been working out a scenario for using these picks to get Love. The Warriors have something that Minnesota might be interested in with Klay Thompson, David Lee and a first-round pick. However, Golden State has since had second thoughts about giving up Thompson.

One more team to watch in this frenzy is the Los Angeles Clippers, who Love would really like to play for. It’s hard to imagine who would be dealt in such an arrangement, but speculation has Blake Griffin and another player being swapped for Love and another T-Wolves member.

Of course, it’s also worth mentioning that none of these scenarios could happen, meaning Minnesota team president and head coach Flip Saunders keeps Love in Minnesota until the trade deadline. This would be awkward for both parties involved because the 6’10” power forward, who averaged 26.1 PPG and 12.5 RPG last season, definitely doesn’t want to be back in Minnesota. But on the other hand, Saunders certainly doesn’t want to get far below market value for a guy who’s quite possibly the NBA’s top power forward.