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Are the Cleveland Cavaliers Suddenly the NBA Title Favorites?

May 17, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) reacts during a timeout in the fourth quarter against the Toronto Raptors in game one of the Eastern conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
May 17, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) reacts during a timeout in the fourth quarter against the Toronto Raptors in game one of the Eastern conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Cleveland Cavaliers have yet to lose in the playoffs to this point. Does this make them the new championship favorites?

It depends on what you value more from a team’s postseason performance: rest or achievement?

The Cavaliers have further proven what NBA fans have known for years: the Eastern Conference is severely inferior to the Western Conference.

Nobody is denying the fact that the Cleveland Cavaliers are talented enough to win a championship, but their dominant performances against the Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks aren’t anything that should change people’s minds in terms of how they view this team.

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The biggest factor that’s coming out of their opening round and semifinal performances is rest. While the teams out West have had to beat each other up to get this far, the Cavaliers are completely unscathed up to this point.

Being unblemished often brings its own adversity, however. As good as the Cavaliers are, it seems highly unlikely that they could have gotten to this point in the Western Conference with that same playoff record.

Although the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder aren’t as rested as the Cavaliers are currently, they hold the advantages of overcoming tougher opponents, especially the Thunder. To beat a San Antonio Spurs squad that won 67 games during the regular season gives them instant gravitas over the remaining teams in the playoffs.

The Warriors don’t have a series victory over a team as talented as the Spurs, but what they’ve been able to accomplish with Stephen Curry’s knee and ankle problems this postseason is inspiring.

The Western Conference had 4 teams with over 50 wins, while the Eastern Conference only had 2 such teams.

This may be conference bias on my part, but it seems like the West is always tested far more than the East. That’s not taking anything away from the Cavaliers; they’re a great team. But the Toronto Raptors are the only truly elite team in the Eastern Conference that they have to contend with.

The West features formidable teams like the Warriors, Thunder, Spurs, and Clippers, and only 1 of those squads gets to make it through to represent the conference in the Finals.

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Rest is important, but so is the mentality of knowing that you overcame severe obstacles in your way to get to your ultimate goal. If the Cavaliers advance past the Raptors, they’ll have the freshness, but the Warriors or Thunder will be more battle tested.

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