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NBA Finals – Warriors vs Cavaliers Series Price and Betting Preview

Cleveland Cavaliers(63-32) @ Golden State Warriors(79-15)

  • Where: Oracle Arena, Quicken Loans Arena. Oakland CA, Cleveland OH
  • When: June 1, 2017 9:00 pm EST
  • Moneyline: (Series price) Cavaliers (+230) vs Warriors (-270)

Those bettors who ante’d up on Cleveland Cavaliers futures in January and February must be feeling it all going their way right now.

Back then, the odds of the Cavs making it to the NBA Finals, then beating the Golden State Warriors in a seven-game series were not optimistic. But after Cleveland matched their familiar cross-conference foe almost tit-for-tat in dispatching pretenders during the 2016-17 post-season, the defending champs’ money line has shrunk to just (+230) for the final showdown.

Meanwhile, do the less-short-than-expected series price odds on the Warriors (-270) finally make the searing-hot Oakland cagers a viable cash play?

Very possible. But first, let’s think about this titanic match-up analytically.

Warriors – Coming out to play

The three-peat Western Conference champions are one of those rare teams that tried a “cure-all” move in the off-season – in this case, the signing of forward Kevin Durant – and had it work out just great. In fact, Durant may have surpassed expectations with the sheer totality of his game as a Warrior. K-Dog shot 54% from the field and added 500+ rebounds, 300 assists, 99 blocks and 66 steals in a limited regular season. That’s Nintendo-level versatility.

But lacking Kevin Durant was not the reason Golden State lost to the Cavaliers in the 2016 Finals. Instead, premier Oakland starters who must hit long shots for the team’s system to work – Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green – got too tired. As the All-Stars’ stamina wilted, the three-pointers disappeared, and LeBron James took over Games 5-thru-7 with help of a fresher and more physical supporting cast.

James has also taken over much of the 2017 playoffs with a performance many are calling the best ever individual display in the NBA post-season. The Akron Hammer is averaging 32.5 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists since the regular season ended in April, passing the great Michael Jordan in all-time playoff scoring.

In the Eastern Conference Finals the Cavs eliminated the Celtics four games to one, with James going 4-for-7 from beyond the arc in the clincher. Kevin Love added over 20 points-per-game in the series, and spat out some chesty rhetoric in an interview with ESPN over the weekend. “The whole underdog thing is funny to me, because…at the end of the day we are defending our (2016 NBA) title,” Love was quoted.

But LeBron worship is getting out of hand quickly, and could be another reason the odds are tightening. A recent Fox Sports editorial breathlessly hyped James as “dominating every facet of the game” and described his defensive play-calling as on par with the greatest basketball coaches of the modern era.

That’s a little over the top, even for a player with LeBron’s talent and accomplishments.

James can hurt Golden State with prolific scoring and physical defense, but he can’t change the fact that the Warriors are in a better position to win a title in 2017. Having learned their lesson from 2015-16’s race for the record books, Steve Kerr’s squad paced itself and began the playoffs ready to rock. Three series sweeps, 25+ a game for Curry and Durant, no major injuries and plenty of rest makes Kerr a happy skipper.

Contrast that with last season when the Warriors nearly blew the conference crown against Oklahoma City, fighting back from a 3-1 series deficit. Add in a healthy Kevin Durant knocking down almost six of every ten shots, and the difference is night and day.

But the series price? Consider the odds on the Warriors a bargain. It would take a series of unlucky disasters such as injuries, shooting slumps, foul trouble and fisticuffs to derail Golden State from reclaiming the NBA title in ’17. The chances of that happening are much longer than 3-to-1.

Click to bet on the Golden State Warriors (-270) to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2017 NBA Finals and receive a 50% sign-up bonus from Bovada Sportsbook.

Let’s tout some exact outcome

These Warriors have twice the scoring punch as the Cavs in a championship setting. But that doesn’t mean they will sweep the Finals. With home-court advantage in Games 1, 2, 5 and 7, a series win in five games is the most likely scenario. Bovada’s modest (+260) money line on an outcome of Golden State-in-five presents a tasty wager opportunity.

Cleveland’s star PG Kyrie Irving plays extremely well at home, with 42 points in the Cavaliers’ Game 4 win over Boston. It would not be a surprise if the Warriors out-pass and out-shoot Cleveland in Games 1 and 2, drop a lone contest in Ohio, then clinch in Game 5 at Oracle Arena.

But Stephen Curry could always fall down a flight of stairs ala Dustin Johnson. If you’d prefer even more favorable odds, a series-prop of five total-games-played is currently at (+220). Dealing with only a $40 drop in potential payout could make sense with the “safety” of a surprise 4-1 Cavs triumph backing up the bet.

You Warriors are good. Real good.

Playoffs in any sport tend to look more evenly-matched than they are. After all, both teams have been winning – that’s how they got there. With a pair of NBA franchises monopolizing the Finals since 2015, fans and pundits tend to pick a side and stick by it.

But the bettor’s job is to see in advance what will look like 20-20 hindsight. The Warriors lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016 for two reasons – fatigue and flaky offense. Golden State has cured both ills in 2016-17, seamlessly working Kevin Durant into an already-great lineup while peaking in execution and conditioning at exactly the right time.

When an Achilles Heel turns into a steel boot, expect even LeBron to take bruises on his backside. See you next year, Cavs – the ’17 Warriors will be golden.

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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