Even after the Golden State Warriors unleashed their smallball lineup, Game 4 still went UNDER the posted total on the NBA odds board. Will Sunday's Game 5 be more of the same?
Jason’s record as of June 12: 82-85-5 ATS, 22-24 Totals, +0.15 units ML, 6-4 Series (+2.0 units)
We had the right idea. For the first time in these NBA Finals, we had the OVER in our basketball picks for Game 4 between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Warriors did their part, breaking out a smallball lineup with Andre Iguodala in the starting five; they shot 46.8 percent from the field and 12-of-30 (40 percent) from long range. But the Cavs couldn't hit the broad side of a barn, and the final score of 103-82 slid UNDER the posted total of 194.5 points.
Now we have a dilemma on our hands. Do we revert back to the UNDER, or do we continue with our new strategy with the series returning to Oakland for Sunday's Game 5 (8:00 p.m. ET, ABC)? There's a total of 195.5 points on the NBA odds board at press time, up from 194 at the open, although our consensus reports show a slim majority on the UNDER. Interesting.
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Give It a Rest
The fact that the total is still rising gives us extra incentive to bet the UNDER. We jumped into the market at 193 points for Game 4, figuring we were getting one of the lowest totals the Warriors had seen all season. It was a bargain price compared to the closing line; by tip-off, we were right back to the 194.5-point total from Game 3. Casual fans love betting the OVER. They'll probably do it again this weekend, so it makes sense for the sportsbooks to goose that early UNDER action while they can.
This is still an unusually low total for the Warriors, though. And while the Cavaliers are likely to continue minimizing the number of possessions Golden State gets on Sunday, it took an amazingly poor shooting performance from the Cavs to keep Thursday's final score from blowing out the total. Sweet merciful Minerva, 4-of-27 from downtown (14.8 percent) is about as bad as it gets.
We expect better in Game 5. The Cavs will get an extra day off to recover from the beating they've been taking (and giving) in this series. Even with the flight to the West Coast, that's going to be valuable rest, and it should translate to better shooting numbers on Sunday – especially from Matthew Dellavedova (3-for-14), who continued to suffer from leg cramps Thursday night after spending the night in hospital. And J.R. Smith (2-of-12) certainly couldn't do much worse.
Besides, while Cleveland's perimeter players were tossing up bricks, the big guys were thriving against Golden State's smaller lineup. Timofey Mozgov led all scorers with 28 points, getting to the foul line on a regular basis, and Tristan Thompson had one of his better nights on offense with 12 points on 6-of-10 shooting, mostly on put-backs. They should get theirs again on Sunday.
So should the Warriors. Cleveland's frontline had a difficult time guarding smaller players like Draymond Green (6-foot-7), Harrison Barnes (6-foot-8) and David Lee (6-foot-9); Green and Barnes broke out of their respective slumps, and Lee continued his impressive play off the bench. Meanwhile, Stephen Curry is back on track after his uncharacteristically poor shooting in the first two games of this series. The league MVP was 8-of-17 overall and 4-of-7 from downtown in Game 4.
Given the success the Warriors had with this dynamic Thursday night, we're going to have to ride the OVER Sunday. Even if the Cavs stick with their game plan, they should put some more points on the board in Game 5, and there's always the chance they'll play a little more smallball themselves. Plus, maybe they'll go to overtime again – not that we're predicting it'll happen.
Free NBA Pick: Take OVER 195 at Bookmaker