Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors (-5.5, 210 o/u)
The Cleveland Cavaliers (12-2 SU, 8-6 ATS) have been waiting for this moment, for their chance at redemption, for exactly a year. For the second straight season, LeBron James and the Cavs will meet the top team in the NBA, the Golden State Warriors (12-5 SU, 11-6 ATS), in the NBA Finals. But this time, Cleveland comes into Game 1 (Thursday, June 2, 9:00 PM Eastern at ORACLE Arena) fully healthy.
The Cavs were a laboring squad by the time the 2015 finals rolled around. Kevin Love was lost for the playoffs in round one with a shoulder injury, and a knee injury severely limited Kyrie Irving. But the injury bug has stayed away this year and the Cavs have looked almost unstoppable. They rolled through the first two rounds 8-0. A two-game blip saw them tied 2-2 with the Raptors in the Eastern Conference finals, but they rebounded with lopsided wins in Game 5 and 6.
All told, they’ve outscored opponents by 177 points in the playoffs, averaging a +12.6 point differential per game.
But that won’t mean squat unless they can finish what they started.
And despite Cleveland’s romp through the East, the Warriors are the early favorites for the title, listed at -210 to win the series (versus +180 for the Cavs).
However, the Warriors’ road to the finals was not so smooth. They needed an epic three-game comeback to get past OKC in the West finals. As usual, they relied on the three-point shot to get them back in that series, notching 30 combined over the last two games.
Golden State became only the third team in NBA history to advance to the finals after being down 3-1.
The Cavs have evolved this season since coach Tyronn Lue took over, but the Warriors are still the best team in the NBA, and one that just set a league record for wins in a season. The oddsmakers have Golden State as a 5.5-point favorite for Game 1, and that seems like an awfully low number considering the team outscored Cleveland 221 to 181 in two regular season match-ups this year and has taken five straight from the Cavs, overall (including the last three in the 2015 finals).
Pick: Warriors -5.5.
(Photo Credit: Erik Drost from United States (Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, and LeBron James)CC BY 2.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0], via Wikimedia Commons)
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