The story of this postseason outside of the third straight meeting between the Cavaliers and Warriors has been how bad the playoffs have been. Blowouts have been everywhere across the tournament and the two teams remaining have had a lot to do with that. However, only one team swept their way to the NBA Finals and only one has the skill to do it again; the Golden State Warriors.
If there is one message that interim head coach Mike Brown is probably blaring into the Dubs’ ears is the fact that they blew a 3-1 lead last year. Not that the Internet or Twitter will ever let them forget, but winning this season and winning easily would vindicate them some from that epic collapse last season.
If you remember, the first two games of that Finals series last year were blowouts. All three of Golden State’s Finals wins last season were by more than 10 points, so this team has all the ability in the world to grab hold of Cleveland’s few weaknesses on defense and exploit them.
Vegas Loves The Warriors
Right now most sportsbooks have the Warriors as solid favorites to win the NBA Finals. Bovada has them at -275 to win the series, but their series prop odds are were you will make the money on this series.
Right now the Warriors to win in five games is the favorite on the board at Bovada at +325. Right behind that are the Warriors to win in seven games at +350 and then both Warriors in six and Warriors to sweep at +450.
While I agree that the Warriors in five games should be the favorite, sweeping the Cavaliers isn’t that far out of the question.
The Cavs Have Had The Much Easier Path
Even with the injury to Kawhi Leonard in the Western Conference Finals, the Cavaliers have made it to the NBA Finals on the much easier road. The Pacers gave them more trouble in the first round than the Raptors did in the second. However, Indiana still got swept despite leading Game 3 by 25 points at the half.
In the Eastern Conference Finals the Celtics did their best, but without Isaiah Thomas they were able to win only one game. However, imagine if Kyle Lowry was healthy for the Raptors, or Thomas did get hurt in the conference finals.
The Cavs may have had to play Boston late into the series and it’s possible the Raptors could have won one of those games. Things have fallen in line for the Cavs in the East and it’s mostly luck and the rest of the conference knowing they can’t beat Lebron James.
Now the Cavs face a juggernaut and they know it. Just look at Kyrie Irving’s reaction to Ernie Johnson mentioning the NBA Finals starting in Oakland at about the 2:00 mark of this video.
The Kevin Durant Factor
500 words in and I still haven’t mentioned the best part? I’m a horrible writer. Even if you had forgotten how easily the Warriors beat Cleveland in the first two games of last season, or that they swept everyone they faced up until this point, the best thing they have going for them is they now have Kevin Durant.
This does a lot of things, but the main thing it does is give the Warriors that ace in the hole that the Cavs have had on offense over the last two series. Lebron James has destroyed the Warriors in two straight Finals. He averages damn near a triple-double in his last 13 Finals games against Golden State.
In the past that was enough for the Cavs to win games. If you remember all the way back to their first meeting, James won two games by himself after injuries to Kevin Love and Irving.
Now the deck has been stacked against the Cavs with Durant. The Warriors newest addition is a better shooter and just as good at getting to the rim and getting to the free throw line as James is. On top of that, the Warriors still have their core intact and they also have the better offense and defense.
During the regular season, the Warriors finished just behind the Spurs in defensive rating and so far in the postseason they have held their opponents to just 99.1 points per 100 possessions. The Cavs’ defense in the postseason has given up just 104.6 points per 100 possessions, but when it comes to offense in the playoffs, the Cavs have been better, scoring 120.7 points per 100 possessions.
This stat is a bit misleading though considering the much-tougher road the Warriors faced. Still, the Warriors have the higher assist to turnover ratio in the postseason and their net rating is slightly higher at 16.8 compared to Cleveland’s 16.1.
What’s even more impressive is the Dubs’ home defense, which gets even better when they play in Oakland. While the Cavs have had a ton of offensive success in this series, a more talented Warriors team could very easily shut them down.
I really want to pick the Warriors to sweep here, but in the end this is Lebron James we’re talking about. He is going to find a way to beat this team at least once, but I think it stops there. You can hedge out of this some with a play on the Warriors to win in four, but I am going after them to win in five games.Free NBA Pick: Warriors in 5 (+325)Best Line Offered: at Bovada