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Cleveland Cavaliers Betting Outlook
Eastern Conference Odds: +10000
Preseason NBA Championship Odds: +18000
The Cavaliers are trying to build around their young backcourt of Collin Sexton, Kevin Porter Jr., and Darius Garland. Sexton is the old man of the trio at 22, while the other two are each 20. Coach J.B. Bickerstaff is hoping those three can grow into a solid rotation at guard, with the duo of forward Kevin Love and center Andre Drummond providing some interior strength and veteran leadership.
There aren’t a lot of expectations to live up to for the Cavaliers, who haven’t made the playoffs since LeBron James left prior to the 2018-19 campaign. With few offseason moves, Cleveland seems content to let its young players grow into starring roles with Bickerstaff starting his first full season as head coach in 2020-21.
Cavaliers 2021 Predictions
Regular-Season Record: 17-55
Conference Standing: 15th
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Cleveland Cavaliers Team Leaders
Though he’s entering only his third season in the NBA, guard Collin Sexton is the leader of this Cavaliers team, and not just in the scoring column. The team’s leading scorer in 2019-20, Sexton sets the tone on both ends of the floor with his hustle and aggressiveness. At 6-1, Sexton isn’t afraid to venture into the paint, but he’s also good at getting teammates involved. If the Cavaliers are going to take a step forward this season, it will be with Sexton leading the way.
Love has been in the NBA for 12 seasons and has seen it all — from the Cavaliers’ runs to the NBA Finals to the dredges of the league with Cleveland and Minnesota. Through it all, Love shows the hustle and grit that any head coach wants to see from a team leader. Love will help the young Cavaliers’ attitude both on and off the floor, while still producing (17.6 points, 9.8 rebounds in 2019-20).
Cleveland Cavaliers Injuries
Cleveland Cavaliers Team History
The Cleveland Cavaliers joined the NBA as an expansion team for the 1970-71 season, finishing with a losing record in each of its first five seasons. The Cavaliers finally broke through in the 1975-76 campaign, winning the Central Division title and advancing to the playoffs for the first time.
Cleveland advanced to the Eastern Conference finals before losing to the Boston Celtics in the first of three straight trips to the postseason. The team struggled in the early 1970s and early 1980s under owner Ted Stepien, who had a habit of trading away future first-round draft picks, leading to the league adopting the “Stepien Rule,” which limits how many first-round picks can be traded away by a team.
The franchise’s fortunes turned in the mid-1980s after Stepien sold the team to George and Gordon Gund. Players like Brad Daugherty, Mark Price, Ron Harper and Larry Nance were acquired, and the Cavaliers made the playoffs five times in seven years under coach Lenny Wilkens.
Cleveland again advanced to the Eastern Conference finals in 1992 but ran into Michael Jordan and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who would prove to be a playoff nemesis over the years. Wilkens was let go following the 1992-93 campaign, and Mike Fratello took over as head coach.
The Cavaliers qualified for the postseason four times in Fratello’s six seasons but couldn’t get past the first round in any of those appearances. Fratello’s final season, in 1998-99, saw the team finish with 22 wins (in a shortened 50-game schedule) and began a seven-year run of finishing outside the playoffs.
The 2002-03 campaign was significant because the Cavaliers finished with 17 wins, putting them in the draft lottery, which they won to get the No. 1 overall pick to take homegrown high schooler, LeBron James. James was considered the best NBA prospect in years, and he lived up to the hype.
James helped Cleveland back to the postseason in 2005-06, then pushed the Cavaliers to their first NBA Finals appearance in 2007. Cleveland was swept by San Antonio in the Finals but continued to knock on the door of a title, making it to the Eastern Conference finals in 2009 as well as playoff appearances in 2008 and 2010.
Unfortunately, James became a free agent following the 2009-10 season, and he left Cleveland for the Miami Heat, leaving the Cavaliers without the league’s biggest star. Without James, the Cavaliers sank in the standings, winning just 19 games the following season and again earning the No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft.
Cleveland selected guard Kyrie Irving, though the Duke star was unable to get the Cavaliers back into the playoffs on his own. Cleveland won the No. 1 pick again in 2013, selecting UNLV forward Anthony Bennett, who was a big disappointment, then won the lottery for a second straight year, using the 2014 top pick to take Kansas swingman Andrew Wiggins.
But the big news of the 2014 offseason was James’ decision to return to the team as a free agent. To build a contender for James’ return season, Cleveland traded the rights to Wiggins to Minnesota for All-Star forward Kevin Love, and also hired David Blatt as head coach.
The return of James made an immediate impact, as the Cavaliers advanced to the NBA Finals for the second time in 2015, losing to the Golden State Warriors. The next season, the team started 30-11, and there was some tension between Blatt and the team. The Cavaliers opted for a change, promoting Ty Lue to head coach after letting Blatt go.
The Cavaliers again advanced to the NBA Finals and again faced the Golden State Warriors, who had Cleveland down 3-1 in the series heading into Game 5 in California. But behind James and Irving, the Cavaliers swept the final three games, becoming the first team to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the Finals, to win the franchise’s first world championship.
Cleveland continued its success the next two seasons, reaching the NBA Finals both years but falling to Golden State each time. Irving had been traded to the Boston Celtics prior to the 2017-18 campaign, and after the loss to the Warriors in the 2018 Finals, James decided to depart again, this time signing with the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent.
Once again, the bottom fell out for the team after James’ departure, with the 2018-19 team winning just 19 games. Lue was let go after an 0-6 start, with Larry Drew taking over as the interim coach.
Four players who have suited up for the Cavaliers over the years are in the Basketball Hall of Fame, though none spent more than three years with the team. Wilkens, Bill Fitch and Chuck Daly are all Hall of Fame coaches who spent time on the Cleveland sideline.
The Cavaliers went into the 2019-20 season with some hope after hiring John Beilein away from the University of Michigan to be the team’s head coach. Unfortunately, the change did not help Cleveland become a playoff contender, as the team dropped 21 of its first 27 games on the season. Winning four of five right around Christmas gave a little hope that things would turn around, but the Cavaliers then dropped 12 of 14 to fall to 12-34.
Locker-room tensions were reportedly building, and, despite a trade for big man Andre Drummond, the Cavaliers front office decided it was time for a coaching change, letting Beilein go in mid-February with the team sitting at 14-40. Assistant J.B. Bickerstaff was promoted to the head coaching job and went 5-6 before the NBA season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. Because the team was so far out of playoff contention, the Cavaliers were not invited to the Orlando bubble for the completion of the season.
J.B. Bickerstaff has been around basketball his entire life, as his father, Bernie, was a long-time NBA head coach. Bickerstaff played college basketball at both Oregon State and Minnesota before getting into coaching in 2004 as an assistant coach with the Charlotte Bobcats under his father, who was the team’s head coach. When the elder Bickerstaff was let go following the 2006-07 campaign, J.B. Bickerstaff moved to the Timberwolves, where he was an assistant for four seasons.
Prior to the 2011-12 campaign, Bickerstaff was hired by the Houston Rockets as an assistant coach. When head coach Kevin McHale was let go 11 games into the 2015-16 season, Bickerstaff was promoted to interim coach, helping the team to the playoffs and a first-round loss to the Golden State Warriors. After not getting the full-time job the next season, Bickerstaff was named the associate head coach with the Memphis Grizzlies.
In his second season with Memphis, Bickerstaff was promoted to head coach after David Fizdale was let go 19 games into the season. Bickerstaff remained the head coach for the rest of the season as well as the 2018-19 campaign but wasn’t retained after the team missed the playoffs both seasons.
Bickerstaff joined the Cleveland Cavaliers staff under John Beilein for the 2019-20 campaign and again moved up when Beilein was let go after 54 games. Bickerstaff was named the team’s head coach and enters the 2020-21 season with the job. In parts of four seasons as a head coach with three different NBA teams, Bickerstaff has a record of 90-137, as well as a 1-4 record in the postseason.
Damyean Dotson, guard, New York Knicks
JaVale McGee, center, Los Angeles Lakers
Thon Maker, center, Detroit Pistons
Tristan Thompson, forward, Boston Celtics
Alfonzo McKinnie, guard, Los Angeles Lakers
Isaac Okoro, guard, Auburn
Lamar Stevens, forward, Penn State
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