The Cleveland Cavaliers have made a formidable start to the defence of their NBA crown, winning their opening four matches of the 2016-17 season. Tyronn Lue’s men proved too much for the Golden State Warriors to handle in the Finals over seven matches, and the two teams appear to be on a collision course to meet again in the Championship game in June next year…
LeBron James’s return to the club sparked their revival after four years of struggle after his initial departure to the Miami Heat. The Cavs now have the depth of talent to carve out a dynasty in the NBA with the four-time MVP surrounded by Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson.
Lue’s men were considered the strongest contenders to emerge from the Eastern Conference to play in the Finals for the third-straight term. Their fast start to the campaign is proof that once again the Cavaliers will be the team to beat, with the latest Bet365 NBA betting odds backing them at 5/12 to win the Conference.
Cleveland have already put forward their credentials for securing their second title on the spin by beating one of their main challengers for the crown on the road. The Toronto Raptors were a tough obstacle to overcome in the Conference Finals last season, despite Lue’s side taking a 2-0 lead in the series.
However, the Raptors battled back with DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry guiding them back to 2-2 with victories at Air Canada Center. Cleveland’s talent prevailed eventually as LeBron rose to the occasion to secure a 4-2 to take his team to the Finals, but Toronto proved that they were a legitimate challenge then and for the future.
All eyes were focused on the Cavaliers and the Raptors in the first matchup of the campaign, and despite a 32-point performance from DeRozan, Lue’s men were able to secure a 94-91 victory at the Air Canada Center as Irving, James and Love were on form around the net. Although the win was by a narrow margin the tone has now been set by the Cavaliers for any other team that will aim to knock them off their perch.
The Boston Celtics are one the most illustrious franchises in the NBA, and have enjoyed long periods of dominance, winning 17 championships. Brad Stevens’ men made several moves in the off-season to attempt to get back into contention, including the signing of Al Horford, although they were thwarted in their drive to secure the signature of Kevin Durant. That could have been a game changer in the Eastern Conference, but this term is likely to be too soon for the Celtics to overhaul Lue’s side.
Cleveland appear to have a clear road ahead of them in their Conference, which should see them safely into the Finals for the third year on the spin. There the task will be harder when they will likely meet teams of a similar ilk in the form of the Warriors with the addition of Durant, or perhaps the ever-consistent San Antonio Spurs led by the best coach in the game Gregg Popovich.
The Cavaliers have made their intentions known with the best start to the season since 2000-01, which should strike fear into the hearts of every team in the Eastern Conference. It will take something very special to wrestle their crown away from them based on their early form.