Sports have often been described as organized chaos. Players and coaches will try everything they can to plan things out ahead of time in order to set themselves up for success, but once a game begins, everybody involved is at the mercy of each weird bounce of the ball, every mistake that’s made or call that’s missed.
When you stretch those variations out over the course of a professional season, a few lucky breaks here and there could mean the difference between making the playoffs and watching from home, securing home court advantage for several rounds or being forced to go on the road in a hostile environment with a championship on the line.
It’s early yet, but it looks like the Cleveland Cavaliers are going to get a few of those lucky breaks this upcoming season, as they’re set to have the fourth easiest schedule of any team in the NBA (and the second easiest in the Eastern Conference) in 2023 as things stand today.
Breaking Down the Schedule: An Overview
The NBA season doesn’t have quite as much schedule variation as some of the other professional sports leagues here in North America, because each team is guaranteed to play every other team in the league at least twice, once at home and once on the road.
They aren’t offered any favors by getting to avoid a tougher opponent altogether, or getting to host the tougher teams with home field advantage while going on the road to face weaker teams, as can happen with the fast paced NFL season.
The NBA season is a marathon, not a sprint, and a lot of scheduling quirks balance out over the course of an 82 game slate.
While there’s a decent amount of parity, all schedules still aren’t created equal. Here’s a look at how the disparities that do exist could benefit the Cavaliers this season. If you like the Cavaliers’ chances, this season, pick your winners with these Ohio Sportsbook Promos.
How It Impacts the Cavs
After the NBA released the full 2023-24 schedule earlier this month, Positive Residual, a sports analytics company, stated that the Cavaliers would have the fourth easiest schedule in the entire NBA. Per their official website, Positive Residual is a business that “focuses on data analytics and visualizations that facilitate strategic decisions in sports.”
One obvious scheduling quirk that can benefit the Cavaliers is the fact that they were one of the better teams in the league last season: two of the three teams ahead of them in the Positive Residual rankings were the Boston Celtics and the Denver Nuggets, who finished No. 2 and No. 1 in their conference rankings, respectively. By virtue of not having to play themselves, their opponents are going to have a lower winning percentage across the board from the start.
Beyond focusing on opponents’ winning percentages, though, Positive Residual takes into account other factors like the altitude of the arenas the Cavaliers will play at (as well as any potential home field advantage teams playing at a higher elevation like the Nuggets will have), and the Vegas-informed Estimate of Team Strength (VETS), which takes into account the preseason over/under win totals that betting apps afford each team in the league in order to get a look at how their opponents are expected to perform, giving a preview at the upcoming season instead of relying on last year’s performances.
Positive Residual’s rankings will continue to update throughout the season, adjusting to take into account how much rest a team has or if their opponents end up being better or worse than expected, making it an excellent running metric for determining what a team is up against.
Cavaliers Season: General Outlook
All in all, the Cavaliers seem like a lock to make the playoffs this season, even if they didn’t have one of the easiest schedules in the league. They’re a young team who arrived ahead of schedule last season, and while they ran into a speed bump in the playoffs, they acquired plenty of valuable experience and are sure to be hungry for more as they continue to develop.
Having an easier schedule gives the Cavs a better chance at securing one of the top seeds in the Eastern Conference, giving them a shot at home court advantage deep into the playoffs.