Cleveland (0-0) at Golden State (0-0)
When: Thursday, May 31st 2018
Where: Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA
Time: 9:05 ET | TV: ABC
Opening Odds: Golden State -11/217.5
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: The Cleveland Cavaliers will play the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. Some people may be growing tired of it, but for the fourth-straight season, these two teams are deserving conference champions and will begin their best-of-seven showdown Thursday night in Oakland, Ca. Cleveland and Golden State were both overwhelming favorites to repeat as Eastern and Western champs respectively, but their paths were a lot tougher than expected. The Cavaliers battled inconsistency all season until before acquiring several players at the trade deadline and finished fourth in the East. Golden State battled injuries and gave the conference crown to the Houston Rockets before dispatching them in seven games in the West finals. Cleveland survived a pesky Indiana team in the first round, going all seven games, then swept a Toronto team that they own, before another epic seven-game battle with the Boston Celtics. Golden State has won two of the last three championship series with Cleveland and both regular season matchups in 2017-18.
The big question coming into these Finals for Cleveland is the health of power forward Kevin Love, who suffered a concussion in Friday’s Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics and has yet to pass the protocol. Love, a five-time All-Star, was seen on the practice floor Wednesday and head coach Tyronn Lue did indicate that he will start the game if he is cleared to play. Love’s presence always takes some of the scoring pressure off LeBron James, who is averaging 34 points, 9.2 rebounds and 8.8 assists and boasts seven 40+ scoring efforts this postseason.
Golden State has an injury concern of their own, though not as important as Love is to Cleveland. Veteran Andre Iguodala (left leg) will miss his fifth consecutive contest, leaving Golden State without a player who typically defends James. “Iguodala was the MVP of the series in 2015, largely because he took that role on of guarding LeBron, but also because of what he did offensively,” head coach Steve Kerr told reporters. Kerr said the duty of guarding James will be spread among at least four players – forwards Kevin Durant and Draymond Green and guards Klay Thompson and Shaun Livingston. Point guard Stephen Curry made 25 3-pointers over the final five games of the Western Conference finals against the Houston Rockets and averaged 28.2 points during the stretch, while Durant is averaging 29 points in the postseason and has topped 20 in all 17 games.
I really hope this isn’t a four-game blowout by Golden State, but I fear that it will be. The Warriors are the largest favorites to win the Finals in 16 years, but Cleveland has been playing the underdog roll this postseason. The only question we need to answer for each of these contests, is whether or not the Cavs can cover the spread. I think for at least Game 1, LeBron and company will play this like a do-or-die situation and keep this within the point spread against a potentially overconfident Golden State club.
Pick: Cavaliers +12.5
- Cavaliers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Cavaliers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
- Cavaliers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
- Cavaliers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 vs. Western Conference.
- Cavaliers are 2-8 ATS in their last 10 vs. NBA Pacific.
- Cavaliers are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games playing on 3 or more days rest.
- Cavaliers are 1-9 ATS in their last 10 Thursday games.
- Warriors are 4-10 ATS in their last 14 games playing on 2 days rest.
- Warriors are 8-21-1 ATS in their last 30 games following a ATS win.
- Warriors are 6-17 ATS in their last 23 games following a straight up win.
- Warriors are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 Thursday games.
- Warriors are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 vs. Eastern Conference.
- Warriors are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 vs. NBA Central.
- Under is 4-0 in Cavaliers last 4 road games.
- Under is 4-0 in Cavaliers last 4 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
- Under is 4-0 in Cavaliers last 4 when their opponent scores 100 points or more in their previous game.
- Under is 4-0 in Cavaliers last 4 vs. Western Conference.
- Under is 4-0 in Cavaliers last 4 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600.
- Over is 4-0 in Cavaliers last 4 NBA Championship games.
- Under is 4-1 in Cavaliers last 5 games following a ATS win.
- Under is 5-2 in Cavaliers last 7 overall.
- Under is 5-2 in Cavaliers last 7 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Under is 5-2 in Cavaliers last 7 vs. NBA Pacific.
- Under is 35-17-2 in Cavaliers last 54 games playing on 3 or more days rest.
- Under is 5-0 in Warriors last 5 overall.
- Under is 5-0 in Warriors last 5 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Under is 4-0 in Warriors last 4 home games.
- Over is 4-0 in Warriors last 4 NBA Championship games.
- Under is 7-1 in Warriors last 8 after scoring 100 points or more in their previous game.
- Under is 5-1 in Warriors last 6 games following a straight up win.
- Over is 7-2 in Warriors last 9 Thursday games.
- Under is 6-2 in Warriors last 8 vs. NBA Central.
- Under is 14-5 in Warriors last 19 vs. Eastern Conference.
- Under is 10-4 in Warriors last 14 games playing on 2 days rest.
- Under is 8-2-2 in the last 12 meetings in Golden State.
- Favorite is 6-2 ATS in the last 8 meetings.
- Cavaliers are 2-6 ATS in the last 8 meetings.
- Cavaliers are 1-4 ATS in the last 5 meetings in Golden State.