It has been an up-and-down season for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs traded Kyrie Irving to Boston, Isaiah Thomas didn’t work out and Kevin Love got injured, all for a team allowing 109.5 points per 100 possessions (29th in the NBA).
The three-time defending Eastern Conference champs look vulnerable, but should bettors fade LeBron James (pictured above) and the Cavs in the first round of the NBA playoffs?
Don’t be silly, “Playoff LeBron” is real, and he owns the opening round. James’ teams have never lost an opening series, going 12-0. LeBron has won 21 straight first-round games, the longest streak since the playoffs expanded to 16 teams in 1984, per Elias Sports Bureau.
The four-time MVP is 48-7 straight up in first-round games. According to Elias Sports Bureau, James’ .873 win percentage in the first round is the best in NBA history among players to participate in at least 25 postseason games.
LeBron can add a new record this postseason. He is currently 12-0 in his team’s first game of the postseason. If the Cavs open the playoffs with a win this year, James will break a tie with Shaquille O’Neal for the longest such streak in league history.
The King Stays the King
In LeBron’s first playoff series against the Washington Wizards in 2006, he averaged 35.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.7 assists. More than a decade later he dropped 32.8 points, 9.8 rebounds and 9.0 assists per game in a sweep of the Indiana Pacers in last year’s first round. LeBron has been consistently great, averaging 29.1 points, 8.8 rebounds and 6.9 assists across 55 first-round games, which has help bettors cash tickets.
Banking on LeBron
Betting on the King in these first-round games has been profitable. LeBron is 35-20 (63.6%) ATS in the opening round, a marked improvement from the regular season and all other playoff rounds.
LeBron will look to continue his winning ways on Sunday when Cleveland faces Indiana. The Cavs opened as 6.5-point favorites in Game 1.