The NBA Finals are knotted up after four games. Who will nudge ahead in Game 5 tonight? Join us as we preview this highly anticipated showdown as it heads back to the formidable Oracle Arena.
Cavaliers Drop Game 4
Cleveland Cavaliers had their two-game winning streak snapped on Thursday Night in a big way, losing 103-82 to the Golden State Warriors to the chagrin of their fans. LeBron James had his poorest showing of the series with just 20 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists as the Cavaliers were forced to settle on a 2-2 series draw.
It wasn't a bad showing by the Chosen One, but it wasn't enough in the face of a revived and determined Warriors side that was playing like their lives depended on it. As it really did. It didn't help matters with the Cavs looking to be running out of gas all in one. Three games in five days is arduous. Matthew Dellavedova was feeling the brunt of it battling cramps, while some allowance must be made for LeBron James as he did also sustain an injury in the first half when he collided with a cameraman and needed stitches. A head injury is no joke and it must have affected him somewhat because he went pointless down the stretch.
In any event, there's everything to play for yet and the Cavaliers are still very much in it. At least they are notionally. On the NBA odds board, they are trading as the absurd +325 underdogs to win Game 5 at the Oracle Arena and they are priced as the whopping 8.5-point road pups (that's the biggest spread of the series to roll out onto the sports betting floor).
The Cavaliers return to the Oracle Arena where they began the series and where they snatched the improbable road win in game 2 as the 7.5-point road underdogs on the odds board. That's going to be a source of motivation for them on Sunday night. They're going to have to game plan differently now that Kerr's side has gone small and exposed their lack of depth. Consider they've been playing without their All Stars Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving for some time now it might not be as much of a challenge as some NBA handicapping experts are making it out to be. They've had a few days of added rest after all.
Warriors Snatch Back Home Advantage
The Golden State Warriors came through as the 4-point road favorites (up from 2-points or thereabouts at opening doors) in game 4. They were overall the better team on the court that night, deeper, quicker and efficient. They were more intense and determined than the Cavaliers were and earned the deserved road win to snatch back home advantage.
Now as the series heads back to the Oracle Arena, where they've only lost four games this season, they have to fancy their chances to win. Indeed, odds makers send the Warriors into the game as the -425 favorites and the 8.5-point home chalk.
It's interesting to note, however, that consensus betting right now reveals a distinct flow towards the Cleveland Cavaliers with 55% of the money taking the Cavs to cover the hefty spread and a whopping 74% backing the Cavs in straight up betting markets. Is this just an instance of the NBA odds being too tempting to ignore? You have to like the idea of cashing on a LeBron-James-inspired team at +325 NBA odds. Or is it just the public's desire for a series that goes the distance that is driving the economies of scale for game 5. It's worth noting, the flow of public betting went the other way in game 4.
NBA Betting Verdict: There's no denying the Warriors are the correct favorites. Probably, the smart NBA pick as well. But as the NBA Finals have oscillated back-and-forth through four games, there's an appeal to the idea that the Cavs would bounce back. As well, in previous series LeBron James and Company have come back after a hefty defeat to guts out a victory, overcoming their perceived vulnerabilities and depleted bench. Take the Cavs as the +325 road underdogs for the improbable win only if you are brave. For more conservative bettors, the safer NBA pick is the Cavs as the 8.5-point road pups.
NBA Picks: Cavs to win at +370 at Pinnacle and cover at +8.5