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NBA Finals – Cavaliers at Warriors Game 5 Preview and ATS Pick

Cleveland Cavaliers(64-35) @ Golden State Warriors(82-16)

  • Where: Oracle Arena. Oakland, CA
  • When: June 12, 2017 9:00 pm EST
  • Spread: Cavaliers +8.5 (-110) at Warriors -8.5 (-110)
  • Moneyline: Cavaliers (+310) at Warriors (-370)
  • Over / Under: Over 231 (-105) vs Under 231 (-115)

Sometimes, odds-makers can be as unpredictable as NBA players.

After a surprising Game 4 of the NBA Finals, in which Cleveland finally showed signs of life in a runaway 21-point win to extend the series, bettors rushed to take Golden State against-the-spread in Game 5 on an opening line of (-6). But even though it has jumped to 8.5 or 9 points almost everywhere, some bookies still see value for the house from the Warriors’ action.

Only two prominent online books have fiddled with the ATS payout line at all. Bet Online is keeping things nice and solid at 8.5 points with a (-110) bet either way.

Are cash players too quick to jump at the tasty proposition of the Warriors decisively claiming their second NBA championship in three years? Or are the optics of the Cavs’ 137-116 win at home worth any credence?

LeBron James vs Math

The Warriors have been using a peculiar tactic against LeBron James. For the most part, they’re letting him do what he does.

James scored 39 points in Game 3 in Cleveland. The Warriors won anyway. In Game 2, he went 12-of-18 from the field. The Warriors won. Like a great running back or wide receiver whom the defense decided to allow “his yards,” LeBron has been dazzling on an individual level while watching a repeat-title opportunity slip away.

That changed, at least temporarily, in Game 4. Determined not to slow down the pace, the Cavaliers found new ways to slow down Golden’s State perimeter shooting. Kevin Durant only made nine shots, and the visitors’ lack of ball movement contributed to a piddling 28.2% mark from beyond the arc.

Oh, and Cleveland scored 49 points in the 1st quarter. That helps.

Still on the brink of elimination, the Cavs will throw everything and the kitchen sink at Stephan Curry and the Warriors on Monday night. Kyrie Irving, who turned in a phenomenal performance with 40 points in Game 4, will try to maintain his shooting touch in the hostile confines of Oracle Arena, while Love and Thompson crash hard on the glass.

15 outta 16 ain’t bad

The Golden State Warriors, who ran themselves into the ground trying to set a regular-season record last season, nearly “swept the playoffs” with an historic 16-0 W/L mark before finally losing on Friday night. In their darkest of thoughts, Warrior fans must be fearing another lack of “eye on the ball” focus that will cause another collapse from fatigue, as was the case in 2016.

But head coach Steve Kerr has been patiently pacing the squad’s stars all along. Andre Iguodala has been a marvel off the bench, a plus-nine over 21 minutes in Game 4 despite the loss. Zach Pachulia, often an anchor on defense, only played 16 minutes.

There are very few things in this world that are an absolute certainty, but Oakland’s NBA team passing and shooting well at home is one of them. Curry missed 9 of 13 shots against the Cavs souped-up defensive effort on Friday night, but there is no reason to expect that to happen again.

Draymond Green is also due for one last great performance in 2017 – the awesome two-way forward was only 6-of-16 in Game 4, but has never been more intense, coming down with double-digit rebounds and two steals in the loss.

Just because they’re paranoid

Wager on the Golden State Warriors to clinch the NBA Finals by 9+ points and receive up to a $2500 sign-up bonus.

Book-makers have adjusted (slightly) as the point spread for Monday night has climbed upward. But in MSB’s view, they have not adjusted enough.

Bet Online is still offering an ATS bet at only -8.5 points. That’s a gift, considering that the favorites’ defensive specialist is primed for more minutes (if needed), and the sharp-shooters Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant are returning to their comfort zone in California.

We estimate a 70% to 80% chance that Golden State will prevent another massive night from Irving, “hold” James to a 25-to-35 point performance, and take a lead into the 4th quarter.

An ATS bet on the Warriors to win by 9+ points and become NBA champions is a value play…even though it’s already a popular opinion.

Take Golden State despite the points

A complete flop by the Cavaliers in Game 5 is unlikely. James will put up long shots, drive the lane, leap, dive and defend with passion. No reason to hold anything back now.

Yet, that’s as good of a reason as any to take the favorites ATS. If the Cavs are trailing by 15 or 20 in the 4th quarter, fine…they’ll get discouraged and won’t cover the spread. But if they’re down by 5 or 10 points, expect kamikaze offense and pell-mell steal attempts. That will open up passing lanes and provide easy buckets for the Warriors, who can easily go tied into the final frame and still cover as the Cavs toil in desperation.

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Kurt BoyerThis article was written by Kurt Boyer

A freelance sportswriter from Missouri, Kurt has covered court, gridiron, rink and ring for 10+ years. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.

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