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Cavs alone at top of East's title contenders

With the calendar turning to August and the NBA's offseason hitting its quiet period, let's take a first look at how the league will shake out after a busy summer. Starting Thursday with the Eastern Conference and wrapping up Friday with the West, I'll take a look at the tiers in each respective conference based on where teams stand entering the 2015-16 season.


Tier 1: Championship contenders

Cleveland Cavaliers

With J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson as yet unsigned, there's still work for the Cavaliers to do. Even without those players, Cleveland would still be the heavy favorite to win the Eastern Conference. With them, the Cavaliers would have a chance to be more competitive if they return to the NBA Finals. Given the quality of the Western Conference's top teams, Cleveland's position as championship favorites by Las Vegas linesmakers is perhaps a bit of a stretch, but certainly the Cavaliers have the best odds of reaching the Finals by a wide margin.