The NBA Finals are locked and loaded, and the teams left standing should come as little surprise. Despite a lackluster supporting cast, LeBron James is making an eighth consecutive NBA Finals appearance. For the fourth straight season he’ll take on the Golden State Warriors, who survived a seven-game series against Houston to advance. Like he has been at his previous three NBA Finals, odds will price him as the underdog to win his fourth title.
NBA Finals Odds
The first game of the NBA Finals is on Thursday, May 31st at 9 p.m. Eastern and will air on ABC.
NBA Finals odds are usually close, but when these teams are this familiar, we know what we’re getting. The Warriors host Game One, and since home teams have been dominating this postseason, they are a double-digit favorite.
Even before Warriors-Rockets was over, RJ Bell tweeted speculative series prices for the finals. As you can expect, the odds lean heavily in favor of Golden State:
Shortly after the Warriors closed out the Rockets, Westgate SuperBook Manager Jeff Sherman posted official Game One and series odds:
Before Monday’s pivotal Game Seven, the two competing teams were both favored to win the championship above the Cavaliers. According to OddsShark, the Warriors were the favorite to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy at -175. Their opponent on Monday, the Houston Rockets, were priced at +300. Despite already having advanced to the next round, the Cavaliers trailed both teams at +400.
Website The Action Network also posted odds on all possible NBA Finals outcomes before the start of the conference finals. While most of the information is no longer relevant, it gives more insight into how the bookmakers feel about the Cavaliers chances:
NBA Finals Series Pick
When it comes to the Warriors, much will depend on how the team fares from behind the arc. It’s a numbers game, and the Cleveland defense should provide plenty of open looks in this series.
Of course, the Cavaliers have no defensive answer for either Steph Curry or Kevin Durant. Durant is averaging over 28 points per game in the postseason, and Curry is looking like his former MVP self after a slow start to the conference finals.
The Cavaliers played some defense on Sunday, holding the Celtics to a series-low 79 points in the deciding game. The Cavaliers have been horrendous on defense for pretty much the entire season, but this is a crafty team that seemingly knows how to flip the switch when it comes to defensive intensity. The Western conference didn’t produce much defense either, so expect some high point totals early in the series and declining totals as the series progresses.
It’s impossible to discuss the Cavaliers without talking about their supporting cast. Cleveland was able to escape Boston even without Kevin Love, who is recovering from concussion symptoms and should return for the finals. Jeff Green scored 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds in Love’s place on Sunday, a line that cannot be depended upon at any point moving forward. Cleveland’s role players, particularly perimeter shooters J.R. Smith and Kyle Korver, must contribute meaningful minutes for the Cavaliers to compete.
Others aside, the fatigue factor for LeBron James can’t be ignored. When you look at the numbers, it’s almost hard to believe how hard he is carrying his team.
That being said, I won’t consider it as a factor in this series. Because there are multiple days between games, the fatigue factor as the series progresses is not a concern. LeBron is likely playing every minute of every game in the series.
For the Cavaliers to have any real chance at this series, they must execute at home. They’ve done it throughout the playoffs, but it remains true at the highest level. If the Cavs can win three games at home, it doesn’t matter what happens in the other three games. LeBron James is 6-2 lifetime in Game 7s and will give the Cavs a fighting chance. The Celtics were 10-0 at home during the playoffs before Sunday, and James quieted the hostile Boston crowd with 35 points and clutch play on both ends.
One recurring pattern during this postseason has been blowouts. In both conference finals matchups, the first three games of the series were decided by at least 13 points. Oddsmakers will have a tough time finding a healthy spread for these games, so there could be an edge taking the home teams early in the series. Like I said above, both teams will likely be content winning games at home for the early part of the series.
Prediction: LeBron is one man. The Warriors, when the shots fall, are unfair and should be illegal. What LeBron did in this playoffs is absolutely ridiculous and must be appreciated, but the Warriors are a juggernaut and will not be stopped by Jeff Green and Kyle Korver.
Warriors in six.