The Cavs Are a Force to Be Reckoned With — And Great Value on This One Bet
Via David Liam Kyle/Getty Images. Pictured: Jarrett Allen #31 high fives Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Cleveland Cavaliers during the game against the LA Clippers on January 29, 2024 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, Ohio.
Last season, the Cavs were up and coming as they eclipsed 50 wins while drastically underperforming their point differential. Instead of immediately making a leap to the next level, they began this season by limping to a disappointing 13-12 start.
But then the Cavs players started getting healthy, and everything changed. Since Donovan Mitchell came back from injury, they are 15-3. They are 5-0 since the return of Evan Mobley, their best all-around defender, as well as 5-0 with Darius Garland, their second-best offensive player. They are now a force to be reckoned with.
The market has been slow to react to the Cavs being better. They were still underdogs in the division until a few days ago (but now are favored), and their win total has steadily been creeping up (now at 53.5).
Last season's Cavs were defined by their ability to beat bad teams and an inability to beat the good ones. They were 30-5 against teams under .500, but they were only 21-26 against teams over .500. This year's Cavs are much the same: 21-2 against teams under .500 but only 12-14 against teams over .500. They may be turning that around, as they are 5-1 in their last six games against teams over .500.
This doesn't bode well for their chances in the playoffs, and it also makes me be cautious about betting them to finish with the best record in the East. Nonetheless, there is one market where the Cavs are still undervalued.
Longest NBA Win Streak Odds
These are the current odds on DraftKings for the longest win streak in the NBA this season:
|Longest Regular Season Win Streak Odds
|POR Trail Blazers
The LA Clippers, Orlando Magic and New York Knicks are tied for the longest winning streak so far this season at nine games.
The Cavaliers, meanwhile, have an active seven-game winning streak. These are their next three games, with approximate chance of winning based on current odds:
- at Brooklyn Nets (66%) – below .500
- at Toronto Raptors (~66%) – below .500
- vs. Philadelphia 76ers (~60%) – no Joel Embiid
Based off of these percentages, the Cavs have a 43.5% chance of tying the record with nine straight wins. They have a 26% chance of winning all three, which puts them at 10 straight wins and sole possession of first place.
If they tied for the longest winning streak with three other teams, on a one-unit bet, we'd get back a return of 1.25 units. If they had the longest winning streak, they'd return five units. Some quick math:
26% * 5 + 17.5% * 1.25 = 1.52u returned, or an EV of about 50%, assuming no other team in the NBA gets to 10 consecutive wins.
Which brings the second question: how likely is it another team has a 10-game winning streak? No team since the 2019 season has started a 10-game winning streak after February 5th. It's hard to win this many consecutive games at the end of the season because even though some teams are trying harder, others are pushing for playoff seeding, and the good teams are incentivized to occasionally rest players to maximize health for the playoffs.
The New Orleans Pelicans' four-game winning streak is the only current winning streak over their games. Their next game is the second straight leg in LA, a spot many teams have struggled in.
Worst case scenario, there is a 10% chance another team pushes to this threshold, which would lower the EV some. Even under this scenario, it would still be over 20% EV, even without the chance of splitting.
Now is the time to bet the healthy Cavs to continue their winning ways. I'm betting one and a half units on Cleveland to have the longest winning streak in the NBA at +400.
Pick: Cavaliers +400 for Longest NBA Win Streak (DraftKings)