The revamped Golden State Warriors opened as 9-point home favorites for Game 5, but early-bird bettors are putting the Cleveland Cavaliers in their basketball picks.
Jason’s record as of June 12: 82-85-5 ATS, 22-24 Totals, +0.15 units ML, 6-4 Series (+2.0 units)
I love it when a plan comes together. The Golden State Warriors finally looked like themselves Thursday night, although it took a bit of tweaking to find the right formula to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers. Andre Iguodala got the start as the Warriors went smallball, and he outplayed LeBron James in a 103-82 victory, cashing in the Dubs as 4-point road faves on the NBA odds board.
Now that the Finals are headed back to Oakland tied 2-2, the Warriors have opened as 9-point favorites for Sunday's Game 5 (8:00 p.m. ET, ABC). It didn't take long for Cleveland supporters to bet that line down to +8.5, where the Cavs are still checking in at 64 percent on our consensus reports at press time. Didn't the early birds just get paid betting on the Dubs? What gives?
UNDER the Bridge
Before we get into that, let's take a moment to delve a little deeper into the opening odds. If you were a serious early-bird shopper, you had the opportunity to snag the Warriors at just –5.5 (–105) at Heritage and WagerWeb. They had NBA odds published for Sunday's game way back on May 31. Of course, that price wasn't available once the wider market opened for Game 5.
As for Sunday's total, it opened at 194 points, then moved quickly to 195 points despite our early consensus reports showing 56 percent support for the UNDER. Although Thursday's game went UNDER 195 points to improve to 3-1 in this series (and 14-4-1 for the Warriors in the postseason), the final score easily could have gone the other way with Golden State finding its groove on offense. Having two days off to recover for Game 5 should help both teams get their sea legs back.
So why the love for the Cavaliers? They did manage to extend the Warriors to overtime in the first two games at The Oracle, splitting the pair at 1-1 SU and ATS. And as well as the Warriors played in Game 4, there's no reason to assume Game 5 will be another blowout.
We've been giving the Warriors the benefit of the doubt all series that their shooting woes wouldn't last. Now we have to do the same for the Cavaliers. J.R. Smith shot just 2-of-12 Thursday night and whiffed on all eight of his trey attempts. That's not likely to happen again on Sunday. We can't necessarily say the same thing for Matthew Dellavedova (3-for-14) and Iman Shumpert (2-for-9), both of whom were still feeling the effects of Game 4. But there's still room for improvement here, and that extra day off could make a world of difference.
Lay It on the Line
Assuming the Cavaliers keep playing iso-ball through LeBron James and limiting the number of Golden State possessions, and assuming we see better shooting performances from Smith and his cohorts, it will be difficult for the Dubs to beat the NBA odds as sizeable favorites. Many sharp bettors were on the Cavs when this series started, and if it hadn't been for overtime in Game 1, they would have been right in both the first two games in Oakland.
They could be right again this Sunday. And if the Cavaliers can win this game and take a 3-2 lead in the Finals, they'll pay out at +335 on the moneyline, down from +350 at the open. Our early consensus reports show 100-percent unanimity behind Cleveland at press time. At this price, and given how close this series has been, the moneyline might be the best value on the NBA odds board. We'll give it some more thought and come back soon with our basketball picks for Game 5.