The Cleveland Cavaliers are on the brink of elimination in the NBA Finals. According to the opening basketball odds for Game 6, there probably won't be a Game 7.
Jason’s record as of June 15: 82-86-5 ATS, 22-24-1 Totals, +0.15 units ML, 6-4 Series (+2.0 units)
This looks like the end of the road for the Cleveland Cavaliers. After dropping back-to-back games to the Golden State Warriors SU and ATS, the Cavaliers are down 3-2 in the NBA Finals with Game 6 coming up Tuesday night (9:00 p.m. ET, ABC) at the Q. The basketball odds for this contest opened with Cleveland getting four points; as we go to press, the line has moved to +4.5, with a small majority of early bettors on the Warriors.
It's not all bad news for the Cavaliers on the NBA odds board. They opened at +165 on the moneyline, and despite our early consensus reports showing about two-thirds of bettors on the underdogs, the Cavs have moved to +175. Meanwhile, the total for Game 6 has stayed fixed at 195 points, even with 61 percent support on the UNDER.
Now It's Time for a Breakdown
It's a small miracle that the Cavaliers have even made it this far. They won the Eastern Conference after Kevin Love dislocated his shoulder, and they took a 2-1 series lead on Golden State after Kyrie Irving broke his kneecap. At first, Cleveland had some success against the Warriors using a severely tightened rotation, but with each passing game, the Cavs have burned out more quickly, allowing Golden State to pull away and cover the last two contests.
We saw the Cavaliers make some promising adjustments in Game 5. For the first time in this series, they went small for most of the night, giving Timofey Mozgov just nine minutes of burn and occasionally using a lineup with LeBron James as a “point-center” surrounded by four shooters. It worked early on, but again, the Cavs kept their rotation tight and eventually ran out of steam. What else can they do to change the course of events?
Not much. There's always the option of giving guys like Shawn Marion and Joe Harris some minutes, and in theory, Anderson Varajeo could be summoned off the injured list on an emergency basis. But it might already be too late for successfully managing minutes. The Cavs, especially James and Matthew Dellavedova, are running on fumes after turning on the afterburners at the start of this series. James (45 minutes) and Dellavedova (42 minutes) were on the court again for almost all of Game 5. They'll have had just the one day off before Game 6, and that's a travel day.
It was worth a shot. We suggested from the beginning that the Cavs would need to play smallball in order to beat the Warriors, but going to the other extreme also had its merits. Minimizing the number of possessions your opponent takes is a classic underdog strategy, and the Cavaliers used their advantage on the offensive glass to add to their own possession total. It worked while there was gas in the tank.
All hope is not lost for Cleveland. The Warriors still have to make their shots Tuesday night, and as we saw earlier in this series, that's not a given. We could certainly see Stephen Curry have another off-night; we should also note that Curry was treated for dehydration after Game 5, although he didn't need the full intravenous-and-hospital treatment that Dellavedova required after Game 3.
It's still looking pretty rough for the Cavaliers, though. We'll be back soon with our NBA picks against the spread and total, but for now, we're leaning toward the Warriors in what could be a highly anti-climactic Game 6. As always, thank you for reading and for your patronage all season long. May the sphere be with you.