Ohio Spotlight

April 18, 2024

Longshot: At +5000, can the Cavs defy the odds and win an NBA title?

© David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Playoffs are upon us, and the Cleveland Cavaliers are looking to make a deep run during the big dance. Will they get out of the first round? Can they compete with the best in the East? Is winning the NBA Finals a real possibility for the Cavs? Let’s take a look at the Cleveland Cavaliers’ postseason outlook here at SuperBook Sports.

Led by guard Donovan Mitchell, along with point guard Darius Garland and big man Jarrett Allen, the Cleveland Cavaliers have a pretty solid makeup in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. Cleveland is the No. 4 seed overall in the NBA Playoffs and finish the regular season with a 48-34 record. The Cavaliers were far better at home this season, which is not a surprise, finishing with a record of 26-15 on their home court compared to 22-19 on the road. This bodes well for Cleveland in their first-round matchup against the Orlando Magic, as their home court advantage could be a game-changer.

If the Cavaliers want even to consider playing for a spot in the NBA Finals, they will need to figure out a way to get past a Magic team led by Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner and Jalen Suggs, among others. This is a classic offense versus defense matchup. The Cavs have explosive players on offense and finished the regular season with a 114.7 offensive rating. On the flip side, Orlando can put the ball in the hole, but they lack outside shooting. They make up for that with their defense, as the Magic posted a defensive rating of 110.8 for the season, the third-highest rating in the NBA. Good offense tends to beat good defense in the NBA today. Will that dynamic, paired with home-court advantage, help take the Cavs home? We will soon find out.

Should the Cavaliers manage to get past the Magic in the first round of the postseason – and bettors believe they will as evidenced by their -200 series price – they would have a tough matchup potentially looming with the winner of the Boston Celtics and No. 8 seed series. That said, the Cavaliers cannot get ahead of themselves. Orlando is a sneaky good team. Cleveland has had to deal with a handful of injuries during the season leading up to the start of the playoffs, which could factor into their effectiveness and synergy on the court out of the gate in this series.

Mitchell has big-game experience, and Allen is an anchor defensively. This Cleveland team is made up of a handful of young budding players; they could be dangerous if they are able to establish some momentum in this first-round series against Orlando. While the Boston Celtics are the betting favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference, they have sputtered at times in the playoffs (remember, it was the No. 8 seeded Heat that sent Boston packing last season en route to the NBA Finals). On top of that, the Milwaukee Bucks appear to be dysfunctional, the New York Knicks are dealing with some injuries, and a majority of the other teams in the Eastern Conference have issues in their own right.

Translation: The Cleveland Cavaliers certainly could be a dark horse during the 2024 NBA playoffs. In fact, they might be a longshot worth considering for fans and bettors alike.

Spring Shine: Guardians, Crew, FC Cincinnati and Buckeyes warming up

© David Dermer-USA TODAY Sports

While the Cleveland Cavaliers have impressively secured the No. 4 seed in the NBA’s Eastern Conference Playoffs, anxiously awaiting their first-round matchup with Orlando, Donovan Mitchell and Co. aren’t the only Ohio team shining. Plenty of Buckeye State squads are shining this spring. Here’s a quick roundup of some success stories around the state.

Cleveland Guardians

Quick: As of yesterday, who has the best record in all of MLB? Here’s a hint: It’s not one of the usual suspects – the Yankees, the Dodgers, the Braves, et al. It’s the Cleveland Guardians, who currently sit atop the AL Central with a record of 13-5 (DOUBLE CHECK RECORD BEFORE PUBLISHING). With an unexpected start to the season, the Guardians are currently climbing up the MLB Power Rankings and now sit at No. 10 (perhaps a slight, considering their impressive win-loss record). Steve Kwan ranks fifth amongst all MLB hitters with a batting average of .372, while the team – typically known for small ball – ranks in the top-10 of all teams when it comes to home runs with 18 on the season. 

Next Up: Cleveland wraps ups its series with the Red Sox tonight, then heads into the weekend for three home games against the woeful A’s, which should only add to the Guardians win total.


FC Cincinnati and Columbus Crew

It’s practically indisputable: At the moment, Ohio is the best state in all of MLS. Both the Crew and Cincinnati are excellent, just as they were at the conclusion of the 2023 season. The reigning MLS Cup Champ Crew are comfortably sitting in the 4th place in the East with 13 points, while the Crew – winners of the Supporters Shield – are one spot behind in 5th (with 12 points). Columbus occupies the fourth spot in the MLS Power Rankings, while Cincinnati fell from 5th to 10th following a loss to Montreal. Questions surrounding FC Cincinnati are likely stemming from the health of goalkeeper Roman Celantano, who has no missed two games in a row.

Next Up: Columbus will take on Portland on Saturday afternoon, while FC Cincinnati will look to bounce back from their second loss with a Saturday matchup against Atlanta United.


Ohio State Women’s Basketball

Much of the attention surrounding the WNBA Draft focused on Iowa’s Caitlin Clark, the Buckeyes had a big night of their own, having two players drafted. In the first round, shooting guard Jacy Sheldon was taken by Dallas with the fifth overall pick. Sheldon had an impressive season, averaging 15.6 points per game on 49.1% shooting. The Wings will look to Sheldon for immediate impact, both as an effective three-point shooter and as a shut down defender. In the second round, Ohio State’s Celeste Taylor was taken by Indiana. Taylor, a first-team Big Ten All-Defensive Team selection this season, will join Clark in the Fever backcourt.

Next Up: The WBNA season will kick off its season on May 3, when Indiana tips off against Dallas, conveniently pitting both Buckeyes against each other in the season opener.