Ten games into the NBA season, the Cleveland Cavaliers already have six losses. ESPN's Basketball Power Index (BPI) gave that only an 8 percent chance of happening and expected the three-time defending Eastern Conference champions to start off 8-2, not 4-6.
ESPN's Summer Forecast estimated the Cavaliers would win 52 games this season, and the initial Vegas betting line was 54.5.
No team has had a greater drop in BPI rating since the start of the season, and it's not even close. So what does this mean going forward?
Cleveland likely won't get to 50 wins
After Sunday's 117-115 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, who were 1-8 entering the game, the Cavaliers' chances of winning at least 50 games dropped to an infinitesimal 0.3 percent. The Cavaliers have won at least 50 games in every season since LeBron's return to Cleveland in 2014. While being sub-50 wins still means a team can make the playoffs relatively easily, the Cavaliers face an uphill battle. Teams such as Toronto and Washington are already ahead of them in the race for home court in the first round, and Boston is exceeding expectations with an East-leading 8-2 record.
The Celtics are now the favorites to win the East
Even after Gordon Hayward endured that gruesome injury on opening night, BPI sees the Celtics as the overwhelming favorite to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals, giving them a 62.8 percent chance to make it the Finals and a 21.7 percent chance to win it all. The Celtics are currently projected to go 60-22, which is the second-best projected record in the league. The strength of their schedule so far is tied for 15th -- right in the middle -- so it's not as if they've had an easy slate of games. Going forward, they are tied for fourth-easiest strength of schedule remaining.
The Brooklyn pick is looking good
While the Brooklyn Nets started 3-2, they have lost their past four games. Their draft pick -- which the Celtics owned and traded to the Cavaliers in the Kyrie Irving blockbuster -- currently has a 62.3 percent chance of being in the top five and a 37.5 percent chance of being in the six to 10 range. This also is a year in which Cleveland still has its own first-round pick, and while it might not end up being a high seed in the playoffs, that only improves the spot of its own pick. At this point, the Cavaliers' pick has a 33 percent chance of landing within the 15 to 19 range. Not only is that pick going to be the first draft pick they've kept since 2015, but it would be their highest pick since LeBron's return.
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