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ESPN pegs Cavs at 57 wins for 2016-2017; will still rule the East

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Even after winning the franchise’s first ever title, things aren’t going to be simple for the Cleveland Cavaliers moving forward. Apparently, the Wine and Gold’s case is not just an “if it ain’t broke, why fix it” situation.

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A lot of gray areas needed tending and the team’s salary cap status is the biggest joker in all of these. Gone are Timofey Mozgov and Matthew Dellavedova, while in comes Mike Dunleavy and Kay Felder. In addition to General Manager David Griffin’s to-do-list is sealing the figure for LeBron James and J.R. Smith.

ESPN recently released their Eastern Conference forecast for next season and they pegged the Cavs to win as many games as they did last regular season at 57, which bests all other East team’s win projection.

The Cavaliers cruised to 57 wins last season and will face an even lighter challenge in the East this season, according to our forecast. While free agent LeBron James is expected to return, J.R. Smith could still sign elsewhere this summer. Smith led the Cavaliers with 204 3-pointers last season, 46 more than anyone else on the roster.

If you haven’t accepted it already, then you better come to terms with the reality that Cleveland is not in the business of winning 70 regular season games. Can they play well enough for an entire season to win 60+? Well, one would have to think it’s at least possible, but ESPN doesn’t seem to think so.

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The blueprint for success that LeBron James instilled in this group was affirmed in June after the final buzzer sounded at Oracle Arena. Above everything else, being healthy and as fresh as possible entering the playoffs is the main theme for the Cavs.

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