Cleveland finished two games ahead of Indiana in the standings. Victor Oladipo is probably the leagues most improved player, though they seemingly dont pose much of a threat to the Cavs.
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Wednesday, April 18 vs. Indiana, 7 p.m. EDT (TNT)
Sunday, April 22 at Indiana, 8:30 p.m. EDT (TNT)
All that is certain is Cleveland will take on Indiana to begin the postseason. Heres a look at the schedule for their first-round series, including the dates, start times and TV channels.
On paper, the 59-winRaptors will offer the Cavs their toughest challenge if they can get past the Washington Wizards in the Easts No.1 vs. No.8 matchup. Cleveland swept Toronto in last years playoffs, and they defeated the Raptors in two games toward the end of this season.
Wednesday, April 25 vs. Indiana, TBD*
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Cleveland is theNo.4 seed this season, making their road through the conference more difficult than usual. The Cavs will likely have to win two series without having the luxury of home-court advantage, and they are only slight betting favorites to reach the finals.
Theres no question that James is playing with his worst supporting cast since he completed his first stint with Cleveland. Kevin Love is the only other All-Star on the roster. Its hard to even decide which player is the Cavs third-best, and its probably an answer that changes with every game.
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FinalNBAEastern Conference standings and the odds to win it (BetOnline):
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Friday, April 20 at Indiana, 7 p.m. EDT (ESPN)
Sunday, April 15 vs. Indiana, 3:30 p.m. EDT (ABC)
Making it out of the East, however, could prove to be more difficult for James than it has been in each of the last seven seasons, all of which have ended with him competing in the NBA Finals. In four seasons with the Miami Heat and the last three years with Cleveland, the leagues top star always managed to win the East on a team that was the conferences No.1 or No.2 seed.
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The Cleveland Cavaliers enter the 2018 NBA playoffs in a situation much like the one they found themselves in a year ago. They are the defending Eastern Conference champions and are favored to make another trip to the NBA Finals. LeBron James is still the best basketball player in the world, and hell lead the Cavs in a first-round series against the Indiana Pacers, whom Cleveland swept to kick off the 2017 postseason.
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The Cavaliers are among the worst defensive teams in the NBA, making them more vulnerable to an early-round upset than ever before. Only the Phoenix Suns allowed more points per possession in the regular season.
Perhaps Giannis Antetokounmpo will help the Milwaukee Bucks upset Boston in the first round and lead them to the conference finals. Antetokounmpo is the best player in the East not named LeBron James.
If seeding holds, Boston will be Clevelands final challenge before the NBA Finals. The No.3 seed Philadelphia 76ers might have something to say about that, especially since the Celtics have lost Kyrie Irving to a season-ending knee injury. The 76ers have their own issues with Joel Embiid likely to miss the start of their first-round series with the Miami Heat.
The Cleveland Cavaliers could face the same path to the 2018 NBA Finals that they did a year ago. Pictured: LeBron James 23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks on in the fourth quarter against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on April 9, 2018 in New York City.
The East playoff bracket even sets Cleveland up to potentially face the exact same path to the finals that they took last season. The Cavs will likely meet the Toronto Raptors in the second round in a rematch of the 2017 conference semifinals. If the Boston Celtics can find a way to win two series, they can meet Cleveland in the East Finals, once again.