Photo Credit: NBA.com
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Warriors, Cavaliers the championship favorites at All-Star break

Photo Credit: NBA.com

Photo Credit: NBA.com

We’ve reached the All-Star break of yet another eventful NBA season, and just like they were in the beginning of the year, the Cleveland Cavaliers are the favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference. But the favorite in the Western Conference is different than the beginning of the year, as the Golden State Warriors have dominated the league en route to a 42-9 record.

The Warriors currently have the best odds to win the 2015 NBA title at 3/1, per Bovada. That’s up from 25/1 at the beginning of the year. Rookie head coach Steve Kerr has Golden State playing great on both sides of the ball, as the Warriors are second in the league in offensive rating and first in defensive rating, per NBA.com. Golden State’s average point differential is +10.9, which would be one of the best marks of all-time.

Stephen Curry is one of the top MVP candidates, while Klay Thompson and Draymond Green have taken huge leaps. Both Thompson and Green are in the running for Most Improved Player, and Green is also a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year.

Safe to say, things have gone pretty well for the Warriors thus far. But winning it all will be no cakewalk, especially in the rugged West. The Oklahoma City Thunder have the second-best odds in the West at 8/1 to win it all, and the Thunder are a likely first-round matchup for Golden State. The San Antonio Spurs — the favorite to win the West before the year — aren’t going anywhere, and every other playoff team in the conference will be a tough out.

Meanwhile, the ride has been a bit more bumpy for Cleveland. The Cavaliers struggled at the beginning of the year due to injuries and a lack of depth, and the train almost went off the rails when LeBron James missed an extended period of time. Cleveland dropped to 19-20 on Jan. 13 in James’s first game back from injury, which led to rumors about the possible firing of first-year head coach David Blatt.

However, it turns out that getting a healthy LeBron back is kind of a big deal, as the Cavaliers have gone 14-2 since falling to 19-20. Also helping matters were the acquisitions of Timofey Mozgov, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert. Those trades addressed several weakness on the roster, which has led to a more balanced team.

The competition in the East isn’t as tough as the West, but there are still several high quality teams who will challenge Cleveland. The Atlanta Hawks have arguably been the best story in the NBA this season, as the Hawks are running away from the pack with a record of 43-11. Atlanta has 15/2 odds to win the championship, up from 60/1 at the start of the year.

The Toronto Raptors, Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards are all legitimate contenders as well, and some still feel the East is going to come down to the Bulls and Cavaliers, even despite the Hawks’ regular-season dominance.

Whatever happens, there will be no shortage of entertainment as these teams duke it out for a title.


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