Fourth time’s the charm? Here we go again – Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, NBA Finals.
For the fourth consecutive year the Cavs and Dubs meet up. It hasn’t come easy – both teams failed to finish the regular season atop their respective conferences – but after the Cavs and Warriors played out lengthy seven game duels against the Celtics and Rockets, the two still managed to walk away as the Eastern and Western Conference champions.
The odds are heavily in Golden State’s favour, and rightfully so. The Warriors bullied the Cavs last year to win the series 4-1, but they’ll have their work cut out for them against what has been an even more beastly version of LeBron James. Even at age 33, James is still capable of pulling off the upset, but it will take a serious team effort from the Cavs to upset the Warriors.
Can LeBron carry the load? Or are the Warriors good for their third Larry O’Brien trophy in the last four years? We’ll keep you updated throughout the NBA Finals with our tips for each game, which can be found below.
Golden State Warriors
Saturday 9 June, 11.00am, Quicken Loans Arena
One game now stands between the Golden State Warriors and their sixth NBA title.
It was close right up until the final minute during Game 3, as LeBron James again put the Cavs on his back with a 33-point performance. It’s pretty rare to see James outdone, but that was the case on Thursday, as Kevin Durant ran wild for a new playoff high.
Finishing with 43-points, Durant hit a dagger three-pointer in the final minute to put the Warriors up by six. Golden State never looked back, snapping the Cavs eight game home win streak and sending LeBron to the lockerroom disgruntled.
It’s hard to make the case for the Cavs now. The life looks completely sucked out of this team, especially in the final minute.
After coming back down 3-1 in series in 2016, Cleveland will still think this is doable, but even so, it’s best to avoid head-to-head betting because this has “sweep” written all over it.
Back Cleveland Cavaliers To Beat The Line (+5.5 Points)
Game 3: Cleveland Cavaliers
Golden State Warriors
Thursday 7 June, 11.00am, Quicken Loans Arena
Golden State 110 - Cleveland 102
LeBron James could probably get by with a little help from his friends. If that ever happens…
‘The King’ had a quiet one by his standards on Monday, dropping 29 points alongside nine boards in Game 2. Kevin Love stepped up with 22-points of his own, but ultimately the Cavs were blown out of the water by a much stronger Warriors team.
The difference was once again accuracy from the field, as Golden State made 57% of their field goal attempts compared to Cleveland’s 41%.
Now we head to Cleveland, but are the Cavs actually a chance?
Cleveland played Golden State just once at home during the regular season, falling 118-108. Kevin Durant was particularly strong away from home, finishing with 32-points.
Cleveland has a chance to make this a series, and if they’re going to win one, this is probably it. There always seems to be one game where the Cavs bench gets going in each series, and Jeff Green is probably due for his weekly double-digit performance.
The trouble is, when you shut down one Warriors star, another steps up in his place, so a complete team performance is what it will take from the Cavs to get this done. For once, the line is set at a reasonable 4.5 points, which is probably your best bet ahead of Game 3.
Back Cleveland To Beat The Line (+4.5 Points)
Game 2: Golden State Warriors
Monday 4 June, 10.00am, Oracle Arena
Golden State 122 - Cleveland 103
J.R. Smith everybody…
The Cavs had a golden opportunity to pinch Game 1 on Friday with George Hill at the foul-line, but Smith’s colossal brain fade in the dying seconds cost Cleveland a chance.
Hill missed the second of his two free-throws, while Smith grabbed the rebound moments later, only to run the ball back out to half court attempting to kill the clock not knowing the game was tied.
As a result, we ended up in overtime, with the Warriors running away with the 124-114 win.
On a positive for the Cavs, LeBron James outdid himself once again. He set a new personal Finals high with 51-points, also finishing with eight rebounds and eight assists.
Game 2 now shapes up much the same with the Cavs out at very long odds away from home. The Warriors resolve in overtime showed once again just how dangerous Golden State are with momentum and the crowd on their side, and if James can be that killer in Game 1 and still lose, things don’t look good for The King and his men.
Back Golden State Warriors To Beat The Line
Game 1: Golden State Warriors
Friday 1 June, 11.00am, Oracle Arena
Golden State 124 - Cleveland 114 (OT)
The Warriors once again hold home-court advantage in this series, entering Game 1 as the $1.10 favourite. Golden State won last year’s opening game by 22-points, with the line set ahead of this year’s game at 12-points.
Cleveland lost both of its regular season encounters against the Warriors, which should only further deter punters away from the Cavs. Golden State, meanwhile, are 29-12 this season as the head-to-head home favourite.
You could argue the Cavs are a little hard done by at $7.00 odds, but it will take a mighty effort from James to take down the Dubs at Oracle Arena. If Cleveland really are to win this series, it will all come down Kevin Love’s health and shutting down Kevin Durant
Golden State’s star power-forward is averaging just 29 points per game in the playoffs this year, but even if the Cavs limit Durant to a few quiet nights, there is still plenty of talent in this Warriors lineup that can step up and take his place.
Back Golden State Warriors To Beat The Line (-12 Points)