With the 2014-15 NBA season set to tip off tonight, eyes are affixed on the Cavaliers, the 5-to-2 favorites at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook to win the title. Cleveland is also posted with a league-high 58 wins on the Westgate’s season win total board.
Despite LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving linking up in Cleveland, AccuScore suggests UNDER 58 wins offers plenty of value. After simulating each game of the season 10,000 times, AccuScore forecasts the Cavs to win just 52 games. While Cleveland is the only team in the East projected to win more than 50 games, the Thunder, Clippers, Warriors, Spurs and Rockets are all expected to win more, per AccuScore.
Rohit Ghosh writes on behalf of AccuScore, “In a sense, Vegas and AccuScore projections can both be considered valid. With the Pacers destined to drop in the standings due to Paul George’s absence, the Cavaliers only have the Bulls and Heat to really compete with. While the East has become more competitive in terms of mid-level teams (e.g. Wizards, Hornets), there’s no group outside of Chicago that has a good chance at keeping up with the Cavs' roster.
“On the other hand, what a team is on paper doesn’t always tell the whole story. With this being their first season together, this group in Cleveland could -- and most likely will -- have hiccups along the way. Projecting for the most wins in the entire league could be reaching a bit for a roster put together so recently.”
While Cleveland’s season starts on Thursday with a home date against the Knicks, there are three games on tap for opening night, including the Spurs beginning their title defense against the in-state rival Mavericks (8 p.m. ET, TNT). Dallas took San Antonio the distance in the first round of last year's playoffs. The Spurs opened as 6.5-point favorites with a total of 206.5 at the Westgate. Both the spread and total were bet down, sitting at Spurs -3.5 and 204 as of noon ET on Tuesday.
In the nightcap, the Rockets take on Kobe Bryant and the Lakers at Staples Center (10:30 p.m. ET, TNT). Los Angeles, who will be without Steve Nash (back) this season, opened +7.5 with a total of 214.5, and while the spread inched downward to 6.5, the total tumbled to 206.
AccuScore, as you may imagine, is not high on the Lakers
“If Lakers fans were upset at the projected wins the SuperBook listed (opened 31.5, currently 29), they’ll be even more frustrated with AccuScore data," Ghosh writes. "AccuScore projects the Lakers to finish with the second-worst record in the West (24-58), just a few wins ahead of the Utah Jazz (21-61). With Steve Nash out the full season, maybe landing in the bottom won’t be such a bad idea -- at least L.A. will have a good chance of keeping their top-five protected lottery pick.”
Meanwhile, while many pro basketball observers expect the Cavs, Spurs, Thunder and Bulls to be the last four teams standing, Sporting News’ Craig Williams writes “they'll have plenty of landmines to navigate through.” Craig lists top challengers, as well as some sleepers and long shots to consider, in his eve-of-season futures odds update.