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An inside look at the Cavaliers’ run as the worst bet in the NBA

Since LeBron James has joined the Cleveland Cavaliers, they have become must-see TV and ascended to contenders for an NBA championship each year (minus his rookie season). The Chosen One is a top-five NBA player historically (settle down, Wilt Chamberlain boosters) and his presence alone attracts fans and bettors galore.

But has anyone actually made a profit backing the Cavs since he came back from Miami? Well, to save you some research, the short answer is no. According to OddsShark’s database, which dates back to the 1993-94 season, the CAVS ARE THE WORST ATS TEAM in 25 years through their first 43 games. Cleveland is 12-30-1 ATS and barely edges out the stinky 2010 New Jersey Nets for spread futility at this point of the season (Big ups to Yi Jianlian).

Bettors are getting burned at a historic rate waiting for this Beast in the East to shake off the rust and start giving a crap during the dog days of the regular season. The Cavs have let these games act as a warm-up for the playoffs but this year, they’ve taken incompetence to a whole new level.

This season, the Cavaliers are 3-16-1 ATS at home, 0-11 ATS as a double-digit favorite and are covering at an atrocious rate of 28.6 percent. If you were to compare that to a full season, it would be the worst in the NBA since 1994 with the 2004 Orlando Magic coming in second. They covered at a rate of 33.3 percent (27-54-1 ATS).

The writing has been on the wall for a few years about this alarming trend but bettors may have been too stupid to see it. Each year since LeBron rejoined the Cavaliers, their ATS record has gotten marginally worse:

  • 2014-15 — 40-42 (48.7 %) ATS ranking 19th in NBA
  • 2015-16 — 37-43-2 (46 %) ATS ranking 23rd in NBA
  • 2016-17 — 36-44-2 (45 %) ATS ranking 26th in NBA

So, the question you may ask is, “Why do the Cavaliers keep losing against the spread when they consistently win 50 games or more?” The answer to that is simple — they’re being overvalued by oddsmakers. Sportsbooks have placed Cleveland on a pedestal as a front-runner in the NBA and public money typically flows in on LeBron and the Cavaliers if their spread is too low vs an opponent with a losing record.

As a result, the Cavs spread gets inflated even though the eye test shows they’re not playing with that same passion and defensive enthusiasm that saw them storm through the Eastern Conference playoffs for the last three years.

What does this all mean then? It means the Cavaliers are not to be trusted and bettors need to seriously consider fading them unless the inflated spreads start to drop. Now, I’m sure LeBron supporters will read this thinking I’m just hating on him like the other millions of trolls on the internet but the reality is, the numbers don’t lie.  We gamble to make money, not to donate to sportsbooks.

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