NBA Pretender or Contender: What title favorites have a real chance to win it all?

Looking ahead to the NBA Playoffs, we play pretender or contender with a few of the title favorites.

Milwaukee Bucks v Boston Celtics - Game Five
Milwaukee Bucks v Boston Celtics - Game Five / Maddie Malhotra/GettyImages
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Cleveland Cavaliers (42-24): Pretender

The Cleveland Cavaliers are in third place in the Eastern Conference and that is honestly, quite shocking. At the beginning of the season I wouldn't have been surprised if this Cavs team made the playoffs, but predicting that they'd have the third-best record in the East with just over a month to play, would not have been something I'd see coming.

The Cavs are one of those teams that is getting by due to its defense. The Cavs' defensive rating is the third-best mark in the NBA at 111.0. This very much impacts their overall seventh-ranked NET rating of 4.2, but regardless, it's rather impressive.

It makes sense to a degree, the big-man tandem of Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley is a force to be reckoned with in the interior. Both have shown the ability to be lockdown defenders. The surprise here is the offense is what holds this team back from being truly terrifying. A backcourt duo of Darrius Garland and Donovan Mitchell can put up points, but they need a bit more consistency offensively from the others to really be dangerous.

We are putting the Cavs in the pretender's spot seeing as though they need a bit more oomph offensively. Opposing teams will scheme defensive assignments for Garland and Mitchell while also putting their lack of size and defensive ability on the other end of the court. This has been a feel-good story and the Cavs have been exceeding expectations this season, but I just don't think they have what it takes to be considered a contender this year.

The Cavs are not ready for true Championship aspirations, thus they fall into the pretender category.