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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.

Cavaliers Shaky Betting Favorite Against Celtics on NBA Opening Night

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While the sample might not be big enough for a true trend, the Cleveland Cavaliers go into opening night with a dubious track record as a narrow favorite at home.

With some uncertainty over whether – or how much – LeBron James will play after missing most of the preseason with a sprained left ankle, the Cavaliers are listed as 3.5-point favorites against the Boston Celtics with a 212.5-point total in their NBA opening night matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Interestingly enough, the OddsShark NBA Database shows that the Cavaliers are 0-6 straight-up and against the spread since January 2016 when favored by four or fewer points in regular-season home games.

Both Boston and Cleveland had offseason turnover that included trading point guards, with Kyrie Irving heading to the East Coast while Isaiah Thomas moved to the shores of Lake Erie. On top of having their new running mates Irving and SG Gordon Hayward, Boston returns only four of its 10 most-used players from last season.

However, under coach Brad Stevens they are 5-1-1 ATS in their last seven road games against the Cavaliers.

The Cavaliers, who were just 3-7 ATS in their last 10 home games of last season, have eight new players. James has had little practice time with the Cavaliers’ three new starters, PG Derrick Rose, SG Dwyane Wade and PF Jae Crowder, but with James’ talent and court sense chemistry can come pretty quickly (Thomas is out with a hip injury).

The total has gone over in four of the Celtics’ last five road games against the Cavaliers.

Later on Tuesday night, the defending champion Golden State Warriors are 9.5-point favorites against the Houston Rockets with a 230.5-point total in a matchup between the two highest-scoring teams from last season.

Due to new PG Chris Paul’s various injuries (bruised left shoulder, bruised left knee), the Rockets have had scarcely little time to see how Paul and SG James Harden will work together on the floor. If Paul is good to go in this one, though, he will face the Warriors’ Stephen Curry at each end of the court for the entire game.

The Rockets are 1-11 SU and 4-7-1 ATS in their last 12 road games against the Warriors, but any team that shoots threes as frequently – and often efficiently – as Houston is always a threat.

Golden State, with its big four of Curry, PF Kevin Durant, SF Draymond Green and SG Klay Thompson, almost always lays big-time points at Oracle Arena. While the Warriors infamously laid an egg in their home opener last season, they are 19-1 SU and 14-5-1 ATS in their last 20 regular-season home games with a closing line between 8.5 and 10.5 points.

The Warriors, unlike the other three teams in action on Tuesday, had minimal offseason turnover with 12 players returning from their championship team.

The total has gone under in six of the Rockets’ last nine road games against the Warriors.

 

 

Thunder Climbing the NBA Futures After Carmelo Anthony Trade

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If the Golden State Warriors can be taken down, chances are it might come from within the NBA’s cutthroat Western Conference. With the season due to tip off in a couple weeks, Golden State is the -160 favorite on the odds to win the NBA championship at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Warriors have dominated the league for three seasons running with nary a hiccup, save for their breakdown at the end of the 2016 postseason when they lost a seven-game NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James.

This past NBA offseason was all about superstars maneuvering to join Western Conference teams in order to try to take the fight to the Warriors more directly. As a result of their moves to add Carmelo Anthony and Paul George to their forward corps to complement league-MVP point guard Russell Westbrook, the Oklahoma City Thunder (+1200) have seen their price come down precipitously from an opening +6600.

As it stands, more than 10/1 odds on a team which is a favorite to win its division is a pretty good deal.

The San Antonio Spurs, the league’s model of stability, also come in at +1200. The Houston Rockets (+1600) have actually had their price rise in the last three weeks, which might reflect how no one is sure whether newly acquired PG Chris Paul and SG James Harden will be compatible.

Among Eastern Conference teams, Cleveland (+550) is offering good value, since any team which has LeBron James is a solid bet to last at least three rounds in the postseason. One might be able to wait before making a play with the Cavaliers. The need to make sure PG Derrick Rose and PG Dwayne Wade get rest during the season will probably supersede the Cavs’ need to go for a No. 1 seed.

The Boston Celtics (+800) added PG Kyrie Irving (from Cleveland) and SF Gordon Hayward, but one should remember that they were not an overly dominant team last season and their No. 1 playoff seed owed somewhat to being in the Atlantic Division with the likes of the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers.

If none of the contenders near the top of the board pass the eye test, it might be better to take a flyer on some small-market teams with superstar talent. The Minnesota Timberwolves (+2800) are complementing young stars Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns with a supporting cast that includes Jimmy Butler – one of the best two-way wing players any side of Golden State’s Draymond Green – and veterans such as Jamal Crawford and Jeff Teague.

The Milwaukee Bucks (+6600) might not be close to winning a title, but the ceiling for a team with a burgeoning superstar in SF Giannis Antetokounmpo, AKA The Greek Freak, is very high. Milwaukee should get a long look for anyone poring over preseason props.