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.