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LeBron James Return Makes Cleveland Favorite for Next NBA Title

LeBron James With the Cavaliers
A file photo shows LeBron James, then with the Cleveland Cavaliers, as he throws talcum powder in the air before the start of the game on January 21, 2009. Photographer: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

LeBron James’s return to the Cleveland Cavaliers made his new team the betting favorite to win next season’s National Basketball Association title, and helped his old one set a dubious record.

The Cavaliers are now 4-1 favorites to win the 2015 NBA title, according to online sports book That’s up from 33-1 on the day after James, a four-time league Most Valuable Player, and the Miami Heat lost this year’s championship to the San Antonio Spurs.

The Heat, who were the preseason title favorite all four years with James, are now 50-1 to win the title, tied for 16th with the New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzlies. Down from the 3-1 favorites earlier in the offseason, the Heat have the longest title odds for a team coming off a finals berth, according to Bovada sports book manager Kevin Bradley.

“With the Eastern Conference being much weaker and essentially only a handful of teams that can give LeBron and the Cavs a run for their money, it would be a shock if they do not at least make the conference finals,” Bradley said in an e-mailed statement.

Bradley compared yesterday’s news with the Denver Broncos’ 2012 signing of five-time National Football League MVP Peyton Manning, who instantly lowered the team’s title odds from 75-1 to 10-1.

MVP Favorite

James, who was born in Akron, Ohio, and played his first seven NBA seasons with the Cavaliers, announced his decision in a bylined article on Sports Illustrated’s website. He has 3-2 odds to win his fifth MVP award next season with the Cavaliers.

The Spurs are the second favorite to win the 2015 title at 5-1, according to Bovada. The Oklahoma City Thunder are third at 6-1, followed by the Chicago Bulls (7-1) and Houston Rockets (8-1).

The Heat title odds took an even bigger drop at Las Vegas Hotel’s SuperBook, which has Miami at 100-1. LVH has the Cavaliers and Spurs as co-favorites at 4-1.

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