Now that they are a year wiser and a Kevin Durant better, Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors are favored against the Cleveland Cavaliers in their NBA Finals rubber match.
In series prices, the Warriors are a -240 favorite against the +200 underdog Cavaliers at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. While the matchup is the same, much has changed with both teams. Golden State is coming off a run of 27-1 straight-up and 19-7-2 against the spread across its last 28 games.
For Game 1 on Thursday, the Warriors are listed as seven-point favorites over the Cavaliers with a 225.5 point total. The Warriors are 0-5-1 ATS in their last six home games after back-to-back road games, but over the longer term they are 14-5-1 ATS in their last 20 home games when they were favored by 6.0 to 9.0 points. The Cavaliers are 1-6 SU and 2-5 ATS in their last seven games as an underdog of 7.0 or fewer points.
Cleveland, which is 3-12 SU as an underdog this season, certainly didn’t see an offense of the Warriors’ caliber during their easy trip through the Eastern Conference bracket. Having to account for Durant’s shooting likely means Cleveland’s forwards, including James, won’t be able to cheat to play help defense against three-point threats such as Curry, Draymond Green or Klay Thompson, like they did last season.
Offensively, the Cavaliers’ chances rest on James and Kyrie Irving attacking the basket and reducing the impact of Green, the NBA’s best defensive player. If Cleveland has an edge in any phase, it’s in rebounding.
For Golden State, the key is making sure Green – who was suspended for the momentum-turning Game 5 defeat in 2016 – stays on task. The Cavaliers don’t particularly excel at forcing defensive turnovers, and Green has been the best playmaking forward the NBA has seen since Larry Bird. As long as Golden State limits turnovers, they should be able to stay productive offensively.
There are a couple areas of concern with the Warriors. Both Thompson and Andre Iguodola have been in shooting slumps during the playoffs. Golden State will also have to make sure Curry doesn’t expend excessive energy guarding Irving.
As far as totals go, it has gone under in six of these teams’ last 10 games, according to the OddsShark NBA Database. The total has gone over in 15 of the Cavaliers’ last 21 games. The Warriors were a pretty consistent under team (53 of 94 games overall) most of the season, but oddsmakers have adapted and the total has gone over in the Warriors’ last five games.