Our resident NBA handicapping professional provides us with an early look on the upcoming NBA Finals between Cleveland and Golden State. Join us in reading this revealing betting preview article which concludes with his preliminary selection on the series.
NBA Finals Betting Preview
The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors will meet in the 2015 NBA Finals starting on June 4th. The first two games will take place at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. According to the NBA odds at Bovada, Golden State is a -240 money line favorite and Cleveland a +190 underdog to win the series. These teams split their two regular season meetings with the home team winning on each occasion. Both of those contests went under the total.
The Cleveland Cavaliers entered the playoffs as the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference. They easily disposed of Boston by sweeping them in four games during their first round series, overcame a 2-1 series deficit to defeat Chicago 4-2 in the conference semifinals, and swept Atlanta who was the top seed in the East during the conference finals. They’re 12-2 overall during the 2015 NBA Playoffs, and have won seven straight since losing in Game 3 of the Chicago series on a desperation three-pointer at the buzzer by Derrick Rose. They’ve gone an identical 6-1 at home and on the road this postseason. The three opponents that Cleveland has faced thus far in the NBA Playoffs (Boston, Chicago, and Atlanta) had a cumulative regular season record of 150-96 (.610).
The Golden State Warriors entered the 2015 NBA Playoffs as the #1 overall seed. Similar to Cleveland, they swept their first round series versus New Orleans, overcame a 2-1 series deficit against Memphis to win 4-2, and defeated Houston in five games during the conference finals. Their overall record in the postseason is 12-3, going 7-1 at home, and 5-2 on the road. Their three postseason opponents (New Orleans, Memphis, and Houston) had a combined regular season record of 156-90 (.634).
Home and Away Splits
Cleveland is an outstanding 37-12 at home this season, and 28-20 on the road. After starting the season 19-20, the Cavaliers have gone 46-11 in their last 57 games overall, including 26-3 in their previous 29 at home.
The Golden State Warriors were far and away the best home team in the NBA this season. They went 39-2 at Oracle Arena during the regular season, 6-1 in the playoffs, and are 45-3 overall at home. They weren’t too shabby on the road as well, going a stellar 33-15 in away games.
Two Rookie Head Coaches
This will be the first time that two rookie head coaches have made it to the NBA Finals since the league’s inaugural season. Both David Blatt of Cleveland and Steve Kerr of Golden State have obviously done an outstanding job this season, and are each just four wins away from winning a NBA title. If there were an edge between the two, I’d have to give it to Kerr who’s won five NBA championships as a player with Chicago and San Antonio.
The Cleveland Cavaliers lost Kevin Love for the season when he dislocated his shoulder during the Boston series. Although Cavaliers star point guard Kyrie Irving returned in Game 4 of the Atlanta series, he’s been nursing a sprained knee that was suffered in Game 6 of their clinching win over Chicago. It remains to be seen if he’ll be 100% for the NBA Finals, and the nine days rest may be just what the doctor ordered for him be at or near full capacity. Cleveland played very well even without Erving in the lineup, but they’ll definitely need him against a team like Golden State who’s vastly superior to their previous three playoff opponents. Golden State will enter the NBA Finals relatively unscathed, besides some minor bumps and bruises which will have plenty of time to heal.
I believe Cleveland is good enough to win one maybe two games in this series, but even at a very attractive current price of +190 it’s not enough to entice me. Golden State would be my choice even with Kevin Love and a 100% healthy Kyrie Irving. They’re even more so now. The Warriors are the better all around and deeper team in this series. Beating them on their home court this season has been nothing short of an impossible task. I’m going to side with the series favorite for one of my NBA picks.
NBA Finals Pick: Golden State to win the NBA Finals in either five or six games.