With just four Eastern Conference teams left in the field, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers own the best odds to win the NBA championship as their second-round series against the Chicago Bulls gets underway on Monday night.
And it's Cleveland's second-round opponent, the Chicago Bulls, that is next on that futures list out of the East.
The Cavaliers' odds to win the NBA championship were listed at 7/2, via sports books monitored by OddsShark.com. The Bulls, on the other hand, are a step behind them on that list at 7/1 odds.
Cleveland rolled past the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs, pulling off a sweep while picking up three victories in four games against the spread at the sports books. The Cavaliers closed out that series on April 26 with a 101-93 road win as a 7-point favorite on the betting lines in the third straight under result for totals bettors in the series.
But while they didn't take a loss against the Celtics, the Cavaliers didn't come out of the series unscathed, as they lost star forward Kevin Love to a shoulder injury that will keep him out of the lineup for the rest of the playoffs. Cleveland also won't have guard J.R. Smith for the first two games of their series against the Bulls due to a two-game suspension.
Chicago ran out to a 3-0 lead in their first-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks, but dropped two games in a row before finally closing out the set with a convincing 120-66 road victory as a 3.5-point favorite in Game 6 on April 30.
The Bulls also picked up the against-the-spread victory in each of their four wins against the Bucks in the first round, while the under paid out on the totals in four of the six contests.
Cleveland went 3-1 straight up and 2-2 ATS against Chicago this past season, according to the OddsShark NBA Database, and Game 1 of their series tips off with the Cavaliers as a 5-point favorite. Game 1 of the second-round series between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Houston Rockets also kicked off on Monday, with the Rockets as 6-point favorites.
The Clippers survived a hard-fought first-round series against the San Antonio Spurs by winning 111-109 as a 2.5-point home favorite in Game 7 of the set on Saturday. That bolstered their odds to win the NBA title at sports books to 7/1 heading into the start of the second round of the playoffs, putting them just ahead of the 9/1 Rockets.
Los Angeles went 4-3 SU and 3-4 ATS against San Antonio in the first round, while Houston was 4-1 both SU and ATS in a five-game series win over the Dallas Mavericks in the first round. The Clippers and Rockets split their series 2-2 both SU and ATS during the regular season, with the OVER/UNDER going 0-4 for totals bettors in those games.
The Wizards vs. Hawks and Grizzlies vs. Warriors second-round series continue with their respective Game 2s on Tuesday night. Golden State entered the second round of the playoffs as 11/10 favorites to win the NBA title at sports books, and they beat the Memphis Grizzlies 101-86 and covered the 10.5-point spread in Game 1 on Sunday.