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Cleveland favoured to go one better in 2016 NBA title race

Lebron James NBA

Lebron James NBAIT’S clear punters have eternal faith in the supreme talents of Lebron James.

And why wouldn’t they? The guy has just come off possibly the best performance in a losing NBA Finals series in the sport’s history and been robbed of the Finals Most Valuable Player Award.

His side pushed one of the best teams in NBA history, the 67-win Golden State Warriors, to six games, at one point taking a 2-1 series lead, without its second and third best players.

And our friends over at online bookmaking powerhouse Bovada.lv have installed the Cavaliers as $3.75 favourites to be the last team standing and take home the Larry O’Brien trophy in 2016.

No Kevin Love, no Kyrie Irving and yet LBJ stuck his inferior team mates on his shoulders and tried to carry them to the promised land.

It wasn’t to be with the Warriors, led by Steph Curry and Finals MVP winner Andre Iguodala, having too many weapons for him to counter.

Still, two wins away from a title after crossing back to the club that drafted him is a superb feat for the King to hang his hat on.

A 44 point monster in game one and two triple doubles punctuated nightly outputs of 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds, 8.8 assists and 1.3 steals are downright otherworldly.

But Andre Iguodala was the MVP for his ‘slow down’ job on the superstar and his move into the starting line up in game three that reinvigorated the Warriors and their small ball line up.

Don’t get us wrong, we love Iggy here at BettingPlanet.com and can’t say we’re on the James bandwagon, but what more could Lebron have done to get his rag tag bunch of second round draft picks and bench scrubs over the line? You put any other player in the NBA on that team and it gets swept.

He wants revenge.

“It hurt to lose,” James wrote on Facebook.

“I’ve been in a funk lately, but … how can I ever be down when I know my kids and my fans have my back?”

“Thank you for an incredible season. I’m not satisfied … I’m not happy with the way things turned out… I PROMISE to get better.

“Hopefully I can put our team in position once again to try to compete for a championship next year and year in and year out.

“That’s my goal, and my inspiration hasn’t changed.”

The reigning champion Warriors enjoy second favouritism at Bovada at a $4.50 quote.

Their only real headache is re-signing restricted free agent Draymond Green and perhaps finding deals for the large contracts of big Aussie centre Andrew Bogut and power forward David Lee.

Bogut found the bench in the finals when Iggy was promoted, while Lee, whose defensive liabilities put him on the nose with coach Steve Kerr, had rarely seen any court time until he provided some impact in spurts during the series.

Both are owed more than $12 million next season and could be juicy expiring contracts for teams that head into tank mode.

Green, who managed a triple double in the close out game six that gave the Warriors the title, is making all the right noises now.

“I’ll be here,” Green told media when asked where he will play next season.

“I love this group of guys.

“We want to come back (to the NBA Finals).

“And this team — we’re young, we’ve got our nucleus in place.

“We’ve got a lot of guys making sacrifices.

“I think we can continue to do this for years to come.

“I think it gets harder.

“Because now everybody’s going to be gunning for you, you’re the defending champs.”

With the finalist Cavs and champion Warriors battling it out at the top for the punters’ dollar, Bovada is obviously expecting a bounce back from the Oklahoma City Thunder after a miserable season where they missed the playoffs altogether.

The only bright spark was Russell Westbrook’s scoring title and several monster performances by the point guard while 2014 NBA MVP Kevin Durant was injured for all but 27 games.

Westbrook only managed 66 games, but dropped 28.1 points per night as the Thunder were eliminated from the playoff race on the penultimate day of the season.

With those two healthy, a rejuvenated Serge Ibaka and a new coach in Billy Donovan, things are looking up for the small market monsters.

They’re the only other team in single figures with the San Antonio Spurs ($10), Los Angeles Clippers ($13) Chicago Bulls ($15) and Houston Rockets ($19) all under $20.

The Los Angeles Lakers are an interesting $21 quote, despite possessing one of the worst rosters in the NBA.

A ratchety old Kobe Bryant will have to work miracles with the current line up, unless they somehow manage to secure DeMarcus Cousins from Sacramento, as has been rumoured, or perhaps they draft Jahlil Okafor with the second pick and get some production out of last year’s lottery selection Julius Randle, who will return from a sickening leg injury.

One side we like as a real smokey is the Washington Wizards. You could argue they have the second best back court in the NBA with John Wall and Bradley Beal challenging the Splash Brothers, Curry and Klay Thompson in Golden State. Power centre Marcin Gortat brings the Polish Hammer every night and we haven’t given up on high draft pick Otto Porter just yet.

The Wiz bounced the more fancied Toronto Raptors in round one and then pushed the Atlanta Hawks all the way in the conference semi finals, with many believing had they advanced to the conference finals, they would have had a legitimate shot at knocking off the Lebrons.

They’re a team to watch at $41.

NBA title market

Cleveland Cavaliers ($3.75)

Golden State Warriors ($4.50)

Oklahoma City Thunder ($8.50)

San Antonio Spurs ($10)

Los Angeles Clippers ($13)

Chicago Bulls ($15)

Houston Rockets ($19)

Los Angeles Lakers ($21)

Atlanta Hawks ($29)

Dallas Mavericks ($34)

Memphis Grizzlies ($34)

New Orleans Pelicans ($34)

Indiana Pacers ($41)

Miami Heat ($41)

Portland Trailblazers ($41)

Toronto Raptors ($41)

Washington Wizards ($41)

Boston Celtics ($51)

Brooklyn Nets ($101)

Denver Nuggets ($101)

Detroit Pistons ($101)

Milwaukee Bucks ($101)

New York Knicks ($101)

Phoenix Suns ($101)

Sacramento Kings ($101)

Utah Jazz ($101)

Minnesota Timberwolves ($151)

Charlotte Hornets ($251)

Orlando Magic ($251)

Philadelphia 76ers ($251)

* Odds provided by Bovada.lv

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