Love Trade to Cavs (08/25/14)

By John Ewing
Love to Cavs, can Cleveland win an NBA Championship?



Kevin Love has officially been traded to Cleveland.

The Cavs now have a Big Three that includes LeBron James, Love and Kyrie Irving, last year's All-Star Game MVP. The new Eastern Conference power looks to end the championship drought in Cleveland, a city that has not had a major professional sports championship since 1964.

The additions of LeBron, Love and free agents Shawn Marion, Mike Miller and James Jones have made the Cavaliers the favorites to win the 2015 NBA Championship.

We have seen championship teams on paper come up short, will Cleveland, a team that won 33 games last season and has not been to the playoffs since 2010 when LeBron bolted for South Beach, hoist the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy in 2015?

To answer this question we simulated the upcoming season with all teams updated through the Kevin Love trade.

In our simulations, with star power and depth, the Cavaliers roll through the Eastern Conference. Cleveland is projected to win 61 games, the best record in the league.

As the No. 1 seed in a depleted Eastern Conference, the Cavs reach the NBA Finals 67 percent of the time and become NBA Champions nearly 50 percent of the time.

For context, the Miami Heat with LeBron were 78.4% favorites to win the East and 54.8% likely to win it all before the 2013 playoffs. Miami was only 28.2 percent likely to win it all last season.

Cleveland is our most likely champion winning it all more often than the Spurs (12.3 percent), Bulls (9.9 percent), Clippers (9.8 percent) and Thunder (8.5 percent) combined.

2015 NBA Championship Odds

LeBron going home lowered Cleveland's championship odds from 33/1 to 4/1. The addition of Love as further lowered the Cavs' odds to win it all from 4/1 to 5/2. At 5/2 odds to win the championship, there is value in backing LeBron to win his third ring.

Rounding out the top five: Spurs (4/1), Bulls (11/2), Thunder (6/1) and Clippers (12/1).

Projected Playoff Results

Conference Seed Team First Round Conf Semis Conf Finals NBA Finals
Eastern 1 Cavaliers 91.1 82.1 67.0 48.9
Western 1 Spurs 78.8 51.0 29.5 12.3
Eastern 2 Bulls 70.8 53.6 20.3 9.9
Western 2 Clippers 72.1 38.7 22.1 9.8
Western 3 Thunder 68.4 40.3 22.1 8.5
Western 4 Rockets 52.5 20.8 8.1 2.7
Western 5 Mavericks 47.5 20.1 7.5 2.5
Western 6 Grizzlies 31.6 11.2 4.9 1.4
Western 7 Warriors 27.9 9.8 3.7 0.9
Eastern 3 Raptors 49.7 16.2 3.3 0.7
Eastern 7 Pacers 29.2 14.7 2.2 0.6
Eastern 5 Nets 47.1 7.2 2.2 0.5
Western 8 Trailblazers 21.2 8.1 2.1 0.5
Eastern 6 Heat 50.4 15.5 2.3 0.4
Eastern 4 Wizards 52.9 7.4 2.0 0.3
Eastern 8 Knicks 8.8 3.3 0.7 0.1