The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

LeBron James and the Cavs are now the favorite to win the 2015 NBA title

Placeholder while article actions load

The Cleveland Cavaliers are on fire. They have won five of their last seven and are now the betting favorites to win the 2015 NBA title according to the latest odds from Bovada.

“The highest we had the Cavs was 5-to-1, right now they are at 11-5,” explains Kevin Bradley, sportsbook manager at “The Eastern Conference is just so weak compared to West that even when they had their bad spell beginning of year, even when LeBron took time off, we didn’t play into that. Now they are showing they are the clear front runners in the East even though they aren’t at the top of the standings.”

The Cavaliers’ current odds imply a 31.25 percent chance at winning a championship, which is an improvement over the 15-to-4 odds they had on Feb. 3, 2015. Those chances also line up perfectly with their performance over that span using Neil Paine’s title odds formula:

Probability of a championship = ~1 / (1 + EXP(5.5573404 – (0.5306148 * Offense) + (0.6129486 * Defense)))

It’s a delicate balance though. The Cavaliers are on a hot streak but have the ninth best net rating (difference between points scored and allowed per 100 possessions) in the NBA. So is the last month really indicative of where they are in the race for the championship? It is a tough one to answer (and why they can build billion dollar pyramids n the desert) but one thing is for sure: aside from Cleveland, there aren’t too many teams to take seriously as a title contender.

“In the NBA there is such a big gap who can actually win the championship, and the odds reflect that,” Bradley said. “There is a top tier group then teams that maybe can make the playoffs but still at huge odds then teams that have no chance.”

Oklahoma City is one of those teams with a chance — at least for now. They are now the third choice at Bovada, going from 16-to-1 to 7-to-1 odds in a month, and the second choice according to title odds over the last month.

Injuries play a large role in the Thunder’s fluctuation.

“Before the season, before Durant was hurt, Oklahoma City were one of the favorites. But once Durant was hurt their odds started creeping up higher and higher and were as high as 30-to-1,” Bradley said. “We took a few decent bets on them then they went all the way down to 5-to-1 last week and now they have injury concerns. Oklahoma is one of those wired teams where injuries have really played into it. Probably more than any other team.”

A team at the other end of the spectrum is the Washington Wizards. They have won just one of their last eight games and keep seeing their championship odds dropping — a fall perhaps only Kevin Durant can stop.

“Up to a month ago they were down to 20-to-1 to win it all, they were doing pretty well in the East. Now, they are at 75-to-1 as of this morning — so they are drifting off,” explains Bradley. “For them to come back under 10-to-1, to be real contenders, yeah, a guy like Durant comes to Washington they become co-favorites in the East with Cleveland as long as they keep their team intact.”