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James, Cavaliers Seek Game 6 NBA Finals Win as Slim Favorite

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Game 6 of the NBA Finals might boil down to whether LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers’ advantage in the paint can continue to cancel out the Golden State Warriors’ three-point potency.

James and the Cavaliers, who are out to become just the third team to force a Game 7 in the NBA Finals after trailing 3-1, are listed as two-point betting favorites at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com against the Warriors for Game 6 on Thursday at Quicken Loans Arena.

Golden State will have F Draymond Green back after he was suspended for Game 5, but their low-post presence is even thinner now that C Andrew Bogut (left knee) is out for the series.

The total is 207.5 points. The total has gone under in six of the Warriors and Cavaliers’ 11 NBA Finals games over the past two seasons, with two pushes. The total has gone under in 10 of the Warriors’ last 17 road playoff games. There is an even 9-9-1 split across the Cavaliers’ last 19 playoff home games.

With the versatile 6-foot-7 Green back but Bogut gone, the Warriors might turn to having Green play center in a small lineup, as he did when they beat the Cavaliers three times in a row to win the 2015 NBA Finals.

For Golden State, which is 11-8 straight-up and 10-9 against the spread in road playoff games over the last two seasons, Green’s return has a twofold benefit offensively.

His passing can help the Warriors play their ‘pace and space’ game that creates great three-point looks for the Splash Brothers, PG Stephen Curry and SG Klay Thompson. Green and the also undersized but multi-skilled F Andre Iguodala also pose scoring ability that not only must be respected, but also relieves pressure on Curry and Thompson to take ill-advised shots for the sake of it.

Golden State is 7-4 SU and 7-4 ATS in the last two NBA Finals. The Warriors are 5-4 SU and 5-4 ATS in road games against James’ teams since 2012-13.

Cleveland, which won 112-97 in Game 5 on the strength of James and Kyrie Irving becoming the first teammates to ever score 40+ points apiece in a NBA Finals game, is 15-4 SU and 11-8 ATS in playoff home games over the last two seasons according to the OddsShark NBA Database.

The Cavaliers, who have got less than little from PF Kevin Love in the series, likely will continue to rely on a two-man attack until Golden State forces them to find other options. Guard J.R. Smith had 20 points on just 13 shots in their previous home win during the series.

In the low post, the Cavaliers should have an edge through the length and strength of both James and C Tristan Thompson, as long as both of their nimble bigs manage their fouls and stay healthy.

No team has ever overcome a 3-1 deficit to win the NBA Finals.

Warriors seek 2-0 series lead as double-digit favorite against Spurs

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The Golden State Warriors feasted after Kawhi Leonard was knocked out on Sunday, but they are far from an automatic cover as a huge home-court favorite in the NBA playoffs.

Stephen Curry and the Warriors are listed as 13.5-point favorites against the Spurs with a 208.5-point total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com for their Game 2 matchup scheduled for Tuesday.

During the Curry era, Golden State is 12-1 straight-up and 4-9 against the spread in 13 playoff games where they were favored by 10 or more points at home. The Warriors are also 1-6 ATS in their last seven home playoff games according to the OddsShark NBA Database.

Not having Leonard (left ankle sprain) leaves a void for San Antonio, but the Spurs are 6-2 ATS without their all-star small forward this season. That includes their series-clinching win against the Houston Rockets in the second round. One can take for granted that a team under Gregg Popovich’s coaching guidance will find a way to adapt.

San Antonio will need to find ways to get PF LaMarcus Aldridge away from Warriors SF Draymond Green on offense, as well make greater use of PF Kyle Anderson. Jonathon Simmons has also proven capable of replacing Leonard’s scoring.

Over 11 games as the underdog this season, the Spurs are 7-4 SU and 8-2-1 ATS.

Job one for Golden State, which is 18-2 SU and 8-10-2 ATS over its last 20 home games, will be slowing down the Spurs after allowing 111 points at home on Sunday. They usually are tough on defense at Oracle Arena, where the total has gone under in 13 of their last 20 home games. Offensively, the absence of Leonard should free up space for PF Kevin Durant, since San Antonio won’t have a matchup for the four-time NBA scoring champion.

That said, the Warriors will need perimeter shooting from their supporting cast, not just Curry and SG Klay Thompson. With SF Andre Iguodala (knee) questionable, Golden State might be hard up for a complementary shooter to hit open threes.

The other big variable for Golden State is that assistant coach Mike Brown is running the bench in the absence of Steve Kerr (back surgery). Brown does not seem to have Kerr’s deft hand with making the right substitutions, which was why Golden State found itself in a 25-point hole in Game 1.

The total has gone over in 12 of the Spurs’ last 15 games overall and has also gone over in eight of their past 10 road games. The total has gone over in 10 of the Warriors’ last 15 games.

Celtics underdogs, Warriors big favorites for Thursday’s NBA matchups

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Coming off a sixth consecutive win, the Boston Celtics are listed as 5.5-point underdogs against the Washington Wizards with a 218.5-point total in their Game 3 matchup on Thursday, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Celtics lead the Eastern Conference semifinal series 2-0, but overcame a slow start in Game 2. A letdown at some point soon is perhaps inevitable, especially for a team with chronic rebounding problems. Thomas’ backcourt mate, Avery Bradley (right hip pointer), also has an injury situation that bettors should monitor.

Boston is 6-3 SU and ATS in its last nine road games against Southeast Division teams, according to the OddsShark NBA Database. The Wizards and star point guard John Wall are 8-2 SU and ATS in their last 10 home games against Atlantic Division opponents.

The Wizards are favorites for Thursday, but picking up the win rests on finding someone – anyone, really – to be a viable second look on offense after Wall. Shooting guard Bradley Beal has had issues getting freed up in the series, and Washington will also need to give C Marcin Gortat some help in his matchup with Boston’s Al Horford (15 points, 12 boards in Game 2).

Also on Thursday, the Golden State Warriors are 12.5-point betting favorites against the Utah Jazz with a 204-point total.

Even though their shooting was ice-cold during a defeat in Game 1 of the series, Gordon Hayward and the Jazz were able to improve to 7-0 ATS in their last seven road games against Pacific Division teams. The Jazz also shot above 50 percent in all three of their games after a loss during their first-round series against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Golden State is 19-1 SU and 11-7-2 ATS in their last 20 home games as a favorite of at least 10 points. The Warriors, mindful that the Jazz allowed a league-fewest 96.8 points per game, seem to have doubled down on their commitment to defense, with forwards Kevin Durant and Draymond Green looking to force turnovers that facilitate a transition game.

The Warriors, who are 9-1 SU and 6-4 ATS in their last 10 home games in May, were able to get their quota of three-point attempts in the opener, launching 29. Both PG Stephen Curry (1-for-4) and SF Andre Iguodala (0-for-6) will be looking for better efficiency.

The total has gone under in seven of the Jazz’s last 10 road games against the Warriors at online sports betting sites. The total has gone under in 13 of the last 20 Warriors’ home games when they were favored by at least 10 points.