The Cleveland Cavaliers have taken a 2-1 series lead over the Golden State Warriors, but that hasn't stopped people from putting the Dubs in their NBA picks for Game 4.
Jason’s record as of June 10: 81-85-5 ATS, 22-23 Totals, +0.15 units ML, 6-4 Series (+2.0 units)
If you saw the first three games of the NBA Finals, you've probably got a good idea of what we're likely to see Thursday night (9:00 p.m. ET, ABC) in Game 4. The Cleveland Cavaliers will give the ball to LeBron James. They'll develop an early lead while the Golden State Warriors miss a bunch of shots. Then the Warriors will make a late comeback as the short-handed Cavaliers tire out.
But how will the script end this time? Will the Dubs pull out the victory, like they did in Game 1? Or will the Cavs hold on by the skin of their teeth, like they did in Games 2 and 3? According to our consensus reports, early bettors are keeping the faith with Golden State, moving the Western champs from –2 to –2.5 as we go to press. Even as I type this, Ladbrokes, BetUS and GTBets have just moved to –3 on our NBA odds board.
This is fantastic news if you happened to be one of the very early bettors who jumped on Golden State at up to +2. We need to take a moment to clarify our report on the opening odds; our updated lines history shows both Heritage and WagerWeb publishing Warriors +2 way back on May 29, and moving to Warriors +2.5 on May 30. Then they adjusted their Game 4 basketball odds to reflect the wider marketplace on Tuesday afternoon, before Game 3.
It pays to shop around. We've been pounding the Warriors throughout the NBA Finals, and while the 1-2 ATS result thus far hasn't been kind, we're inclined to keep pounding away, even with the added chalk. If you've already got Golden State +2, you've got a bargain price. You also have the option of adding Cleveland +3 and going for the middle in what's been a very close series.
Naturally, our confidence in Golden State getting the cover is dwindling with each failure. We don't want to dismiss how well the Cavaliers have played in this series, but at the same time, their formula for success relies on two things that aren't sustainable in the long term: one, the Warriors missing their shots, and two, the remaining Cavaliers logging heavy minutes.
Tuesday's Game 3 was another brick-fest for the Dubs. At least they managed to shoot 40 percent this time, and after a very slow start, Stephen Curry finished with 27 points on 10-of-20 from the field, including 7-of-13 from downtown. But it was a nightmare otherwise. Harrison Barnes was 0-for-8. Draymond Green was 2-for-10. That's not going to win jack-squat.
Simple regression to the mean would be enough reason to keep the Dubs in our NBA picks, but we're much more encouraged by the addition of David Lee into the mix. He was a +17 in his 13 minutes of work, canning all four of his field-goal attempts, and head coach Steve Kerr has already said that Lee will get another crack at it Thursday night. His screening and short mid-range game should continue to help Golden State unclog Cleveland's suffocating defense.
As for those heavy minutes the short-handed Cavs are playing, they continued to take their toll in Game 3. Iman Shumpert had to leave the game at one point with a shoulder injury, and Matthew Dellavedova had to stay at a hospital overnight with severe cramping. Both men are likely to play in Game 4, but the longer this thing goes, the sooner they're going to break down again. It's a race against time for the Cavs; we're betting that time will win.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Warriors –2.5 at The Greek