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Will LeBron James’ Homecoming Season Be Ruined?

A lot of fuss has been made about LeBron James going back to the Cleveland Cavilers and rightfully so. Any time the best player in the league switches teams it is going to send shockwaves through the sports world. This story more so than any other, as James has gone back to the Cavs, his first team and his hometown team.

With that said, this season will be his homecoming, and just like in high school, you want your homecoming game to be a big win. For James, this whole season is his homecoming and doing anything less than winning it all would be considered a disappointment.

With the bar set so high, it would seem that James and the Cavs could be set up for failure, but the preseason odds have Cleveland as the team with the best odds to win the NBA Championship this season at 5/2.

In order for the Cavs to win, they will have to go through one of the many Western Conference powerhouses in the NBA. It could be the Los Angeles Clippers or the Oklahoma City Thunder. It could also be the rejuvenated Golden State Warriors who have the talent to contend and may just do that under new head coach Steve Curr. The Cavs should also dread having to stare down Dwight Howard and James Harden of the Houston Rockets. Most likely, though, they will have to face off against the defending NBA Champions, the San Antonio Spurs, who also have the second best odds to win the title this year at 7/2.

But before James and Cleveland have to worry about the West, they will have to contend with the East.

The Eastern Conference is not packed with great teams. Yes there are good teams, like the young Toronto Raptors. A Charlotte Hornets team with Lance Stephenson on the squad is also worth keeping an eye on. Even the James-less Miami Heat still have some excellent playmakers. However, none of those teams really have the offensive prowess to match Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving and James shot-for-shot.

There is one team, though, that can burn the Cavs defensively, while also housing one of the best scorers in the NBA, the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls are the only team standing in between James’ and celebrating his homecoming with an Eastern Conference championship.

Looking at the evidence, it seems that Bulls centerpiece, Derrick Rose, has finally made his #TheReturn with much less hullabaloo than in years prior where he perhaps moved to quickly and bowed out of two season early after “returning.” There were no commercials or ad campaigns this time around. Rose just came back and started playing basketball.

The Cavs beat the Bulls in a preseason contest, but Rose showed he was going to have no problem scoring against the squad when they face off in the regular season and likely in the playoffs. Rose shot 12-of-18 with 30 points, while holding the Cavs’ defense in the palm of his hand. He drove to the rim and would find a way to score even when between three defenders, with James being one of them.

In order to stop Rose’s interior domination when playing games that actually matter, the Heat will likely have to have James defend him. This will open up the posts where Chicago can get the ball to their other offensive/defensive weapons.

Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah are going to be a dynamic duo down low. Noah showed last season what a force he could be, while Gasol is still a big playmaker who doesn’t just toss in layups from the post but also has a mean jumper and can hit corner threes. On defense, Noah is last years defensive MVP. He blocks shots, steals the ball and pulls down defensive rebounds in the double digits.

A big problem for the Bulls last year was depth but that problem is in the past with rookies Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic. Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler are also still on the roster list, meaning the Bulls will be putting the pedal to the metal all game with no let up.

The Bulls have the third best odds in the NBA to win the championship at 11/2 and have not looked this good in a couple decades.

While the Cavs want to end James’ homecoming story with a title, the Bulls feel like it is their time regardless of what jersey James is wearing this season.

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