The apparent inevitability of the
“There’s not too much parity in the
Cleveland is a staggering 1-4 favorite at Kornegay’s book to come out of the East, with the next-best-odds belonging to the Boston Celtics at 8-1 and the
Cleveland shed its history of futility and heartbreak last season, as prodigal son James directed the Cavaliers' title run with a dramatic Game 7 victory.
Complemented by guard Kyrie Irving and UCLA product Kevin Love, James and Cleveland seem bound for a stiffer title test with
The Cavaliers are the 11-4 second choice to win the NBA title, behind the favored Warriors at 2-3, and Cleveland's preseason over-under regular season win total is an East-best 56 1/2.
"We're approaching the territory we haven't seen since the Lakers and Celtics, or when [Michael Jordan and] the Bulls dominated. … Is it good for the league or not? It depends on who you ask," Kornegay said.
"The league is so popular in Las Vegas, and the moves that took place bring even more intrigue to the league. For both Golden State and Cleveland, there's such overwhelming [title] pressure to do this."
Any concerns before then?
"Barring injuries, the Cavaliers are a slam dunk to win the East," Kornegay said.
Las Vegas bettors are turning in a bundle of future-book tickets on the Celtics, who added free agent center
"The coach has them playing team before individual. They have youth on their side," said Jay Rood, race and sports director for MGM Resorts, which counts MGM Grand, the Mirage and Mandalay Bay on the Strip among its properties.
"The gamblers think there's something to be had with Boston, that if James gets hurt … with Stevens, the Celtics are trying to mold themselves after the Spurs."
The Toronto Raptors, led by Compton’s
"Toronto seems like they're missing a piece or two. I guess that could change, but they need more bulk underneath to compete," Kornegay said. "The Knicks could be a surprise team, but I wouldn't bet on it."
The additions of Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and
"I'm not a fan of them right now. … The Zen-master makes it look like nothing happening. But maybe it will, quickly," Rood said.
Otherwise, Rood said, the top-heavy action reveals why "the NBA futures don't get very good backing" from bettors.
"The NHL gets double the amount of futures bets. Because in the NBA, realistically, I can't go more than four deep in regard to teams that can win the title. In NHL, I can make the case to go 20 deep when the season starts."
While Atlanta and Miami may get some attention from bettors, Kornegay said he sees little room to doubt the Cavaliers in the East.
"Injuries always play a role, and you have the target on your back being a defending champion. … We're foreseeing a big revenge factor in the Warriors' eyes, but that's the only thing I can see stopping Cleveland," he said.