New Year is always an exciting time for sports fans, with the NFL and NBA seasons heading towards their conclusions. That is doubly so in Ohio this year, where fans have been able to lay down some dollars on their favorite teams for the first time since online betting went live at the beginning of January.
The Bengals have been dominating the local sports pages and understandably so after last year’s AFC Championship win and this year’s playoff run. But over in the NBA there is plenty of excitement, too, and even room for a little optimism.
From rank outsiders to dark horses for success
Let’s make no bones about it, when it comes to betting odds, the Cleveland Cavalier’s NBA prospects were right up there with Bernie Kosar coming out of retirement to lead the Browns to another AFC showdown with the Broncos in the NFL. During the off season, some bookies had them at +10000 for the NBA Championship, meaning a $10 bet stood to win a $1,000 return.
Today, there are dozens of fans in Ohio wishing they could have done just that last October. As things stand, sports betting site betJACK can point Ohio bettors in the direction of sports books offering +2000 odds on the Cavaliers to repeat their 2016 heroics. The bad news, is those odds are not as mouth-watering as they were pre-season. The good news is they demonstrate that the Cavs have exceeded expectations and are right up there in “realistic dark horse” territory.
Winning when it matters
They might all look the same when the statisticians review the season, but psychologically, some wins are more important than others. The Cavaliers have displayed a knack of winning when it really matters. The victory over the Pelicans on January 16 was a case in point. Eastern Conference also-rans against Western Conference title contenders? Think again, that victory meant the Celtics and Bucs are the only Eastern Conference teams with more wins.
Genuine star quality
Cynics are always keen to remind the world that the Cavs’ win in 2016 was during the days of Lebron James. Nobody would argue his star quality, but he doesn’t have a monopoly on that particular brand of magic. At the start of the season, we all knew Donovan Mitchell could have a big impact on Cavaliers fortunes, and so has proved to be the case, with a massive 28.4 points per game.
But everything has not rested on Mitchell’s shoulders. In fact, in the final quarter of the Pelicans encounter, it was truly the Darius Garland show. Last year’s all-star selection has matured and looks even better this year. The strain that saw Mitchell sidelined is probably minor, but it is not causing panic in the locker room or among fans. That’s what having depth can achieve.
There are still plenty of twists and turns ahead, but the Cavs are odds-on to make the playoffs this season. That’s something that few were expecting us to be saying four months ago. As for their chances to go all the way – it seems those odds will only get shorter as the regular season winds down.