NBA Finals Betting Preview: Cleveland Cavaliers vs Golden State Warriors

2015 NBA Playoffs
NBA Finals

#1 Golden State Warriors vs #2 Cleveland Cavaliers
Best of Seven Series Format: 2-2-1-1-1
Series Price: Golden State -220 / Cleveland +180
Odds Courtesy of 5Dimes Sportsbook

Game #1 Oracle Arena – Oakland, California
Thursday, June 4, 2015, 9:05 pm Eastern, TV: ABC
Opening Line: Golden State -6
Current Line: Golden State -5 1/2
Opening Total: 204
Current Total: 203 1/2
Opening Money Line: Warriors -255 / Cavaliers +210
Current Money Line: Warriors -230 / Cavaliers +190

The Warriors are significant favorites to win their first NBA title since 1975 against the Cavaliers.
The Warriors are significant favorites to win their first NBA title since 1975 against the Cavaliers.

The Golden State Warriors return to the NBA Finals for the first time since winning the title in 1975 and look for their fourth championship in franchise history. The Cleveland Cavaliers have never won an NBA title and are in the Finals for the only the second time after losing in the 2007 Finals. In fact, no Cleveland sports franchise has won a title in the four major sports since the Browns in 1964. These two long suffering franchises will meet for the 2015 NBA Championship. Game one is Thursday in Oakland.

Golden State went 67-15 and had the best record in basketball. They won the Pacific Division by 11 games over the Los Angeles Clippers. The Warriors swept the #8 seed New Orleans Pelicans in the first round, and then beat the #5 seed Memphis Grizzlies in six games despite trailing 2-1 in the second round series. In the Western Conference Finals, Golden State beat the #2 seed Houston Rockets in five games, including 104-90 in the clincher last Wednesday. Golden State is 48-3 at home including the regular season and playoffs, but they did lose at home during the Grizzlies series.

Cleveland went 53-29 and won the Central Division by three games over the Chicago Bulls. The Cavaliers were the #2 seed in the East, and swept the #7 seed Boston Celtics in the first round. Cleveland trailed 2-1 in the second round series against the #3 seed Bulls, but the Cavaliers won the series in six games. In the Eastern Conference Finals, Cleveland swept the #4 seed Atlanta Hawks, including 118-88 in the clinching game last Tuesday.

Golden State and Cleveland split the regular season series with each winning convincingly at home. The Warriors won in Oakland 112-94 January 9, while the Cavaliers won in Cleveland 110-99 February 26.

Golden State is coached by Steve Kerr. The Warriors are 54-42-1 ATS and the total is 42-54-1 this season. Golden State was a 9.5 point favorite in game five against Houston and the total was 217.5.

Cleveland is coached by David Blatt. The Cavaliers are 47-49 ATS and the total is 39-56-1 this season. Cleveland was a 7.5 point favorite at home against Atlanta in game four and the total was 195.5.

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Cleveland is outscoring teams 101-93 in the playoffs. The Cavaliers are shooting 43.6% from the field and 35.9% from 3 point range. Cleveland makes 75.5% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 41.2% from the field and 28.1% from 3 point range. Cleveland averages 46.9 rebounds per game and opponents averages 40.4 per game. The Cavaliers average 18.9 assists, 12.3 turnovers, 5.8 steals and 6.9 blocks per game. Opponents average 18.9 assists, 11.1 turnovers, 6.2 steals and 4.6 blocks per game.

The Cavaliers are banged up and certainly aren’t at full strength. LeBron James is averaging 27.6 points, 10.4 rebounds, 8.3 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.3 blocks per game in the playoffs. Kyrie Irving averages 18.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. He has been battling knee tendonitis throughout the playoffs, and missed two games against the Hawks. He is listed as probable for game one but he isn’t 100% by any means. Kevin Love is out for the playoffs after suffering a dislocated shoulder in the first round against the Celtics. J.R. Smith averages 13.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Iman Shumpert averages 10.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.2 steals and 1 block per game. Timofey Mozgov, Tristan Thompson, Matthew Dellavedova and James Jones will also get minutes in the rotation. Anderson Varejao is out for the season with a torn Achilles.

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Golden State is outscoring teams 104-96 in the playoffs. Golden State is shooting 46% from the field and 38% from 3 point range. The Warriors are shooting 70.3% from the free throw line. Opponents are shooting 43.1% from the field and 31% from 3 point range. Golden State averages 46.2 rebounds per game and opponents average 42.2 per game. The Warriors average 25.1 assists, 15.3 turnovers, 8 steals and 6.1 blocks per game. Opponents average 21.5 assists, 14.2 turnovers, 8.9 steals and 4.5 blocks per game.

Guard Stephen Curry averages 29.2 points, 4.9 rebounds, 6.4 assists, and 1.8 steals per game. He was named league MVP earlier in the playoffs. Klay Thompson averages 19.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.1 steals per game. He suffered a concussion in game five against the Rockets, but passed all the concussion protocols and is probable for game one. Draymond Green averages 14 points, 10.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.2 blocks per game.  Harrison Barnes averages 11.3 points, 5 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. Marreese Speights is questionable with a calf injury. Other key players in the rotation include David Lee, Andre Igoudala, Leandro Barbosa, Andrew Bogut and Shaun Livingston.

Cleveland is 5-0 ATS in Thursday games, 6-1 against Pacific Division teams, 13-3 against Western Conference teams, 4-1 after a straight up win, on 3 or more days rest, against teams with winning records and overall, 8-3 against teams with winning home records, 5-2 in road games, 3-7 after a cover, and 1-6 after a straight up win by 10 points or more.

Golden State is 4-0 ATS against Eastern Conference teams, 6-2 on 3 or more days rest20-8-2 against teams with winning road records, 5-11 after a straight up win, 4-9 after scoring 100 points or more, 3-8 at home, 1-5 in Thursday games and against Central Division teams. The Warriors are 9-3 ATS in the last 12 against the Cavaliers including 5-1 in Oakland.

LeBron James is the first player to play in five straight NBA Finals since the Bill Russell era Celtics in the ’60’s. It is an amazing accomplishment, but  it will be tarnished if the Cavaliers lose this series and LeBron falls to 2-4 in NBA Finals. LeBron is the best player on the court, yes even better than MVP Curry, but the Warriors are simply the better team. If Cleveland had a healthy Irving and Love, this would be a different story. I think the Warriors win the series but  it will go at least six games. Golden State starts it off with a close win in game one in a low scoring game.

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