After what feels like about a month since the two conference finals series ended in the NBA, the Finals finally begin in Oakland on Thursday between the Warriors and Cavaliers. Here are a few props that stand out to me for the opener/series.
LeBron James Props:
Total points -- 'over/under' 28.5
Total rebounds -- O/U 8.5
Total assists -- O/U 8
Total turnovers -- O/U 4
Will James have a double-double in Game 1 -- yes -175, no +145
Total points Game 1 -- LeBron James (-1.5) vs. Stephen Curry
Will James have a triple-double in series -- no -130, yes -110
Will James lead team in scoring every game -- no -175, yes +125
I wrote a story for SBR on how the Warriors can slow down James but I don't think they will much with the level he's playing at currently. I expect a monster series because James so badly wants to bring a title to Cleveland and he's going to have to carry the load with Kyrie Irving much less than 100 percent. That said, the Golden State Warriors can guard him with probably three guys: Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Harrison Barnes. The Bulls and Hawks didn't have that option. James is averaging 27.6 points in the playoffs with a high of 38. He's averaging 10.4 rebounds (high of 18) and 8.3 assists (high of 14). He has been turning it over a bit, averaging 4.4 per game (high of eight).
NBA Finals Props Pick: 'Under' points, 'over' rebounds and turnovers, 'under' assists with your NBA picks. James will have a double-double (points and rebounds) in Game 1 but take Curry on the scoring as he could torch a hobbled Irving. LeBron will get one triple-double in the series. I believe he will lead the team in scoring every game because of Irving's injury. Really the only threat to James would be if J.R. Smith went nuts from 3-point range for a game (or if James gets hurt).
Klay Thompson Game 1 Props:
Will Thompson score more than 31.5 points -- no -1200, yes +650
Will Thompson have a double-double -- yes-only at +1700
Total points -- 'over/under' 20.5
Total made 3-pointers -- O/U 2.5
Who will make his first 3-point shot -- Thompson (-275) vs. James (+215)
Who will score more points -- Thompson (-1.5) vs. Irving
Thompson average made 3-pointers in series -- O/U 3
NBA odds makers saw that Thompson has been back practicing since Monday and officially was cleared to play in Game 1 of the Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday off a concussion suffered in the clinching Game 5 against Houston. Still, if this is his first concussion I wonder if he might be a bit off in the opener. Thompson's scoring is down two points in the playoffs to 19.7 from the regular season. He's also shooting slightly worse overall and from deep. The Grizzlies' Tony Allen really gave him some problems for a while. Cleveland's Iman Shumpert also is a good perimeter defender and likely will get Thompson so Shumpert might see the floor more than J.R. Smith, who is pretty one-dimensional as a shooter.
NBA Finals Props Pick: No on the 31.5, no chance on double-double, 'under' 20.5 points and made 3-pointers. Thompson will outscore Irving and make a 3-pointer before LeBron. 'Under' on the 3.0 made per game in the series.
Stanley Cup/NBA Finals/Belmont
Bovada seems to do this every year, at least when a Triple Crown is at stake in horse racing, with an exact outcome parlay on these three big events. The Stanley Cup Final began Wednesday night in Tampa and the Chicago Blackhawks were -145 series favorites over the Lightning despite not having home-ice advantage. American Pharaoh will break from Post 5 in the eight-horse Belmont Stakes on Saturday and is the -150 favorite to win. He is the 14th horse with a chance to win the Triple Crown since Affirmed did it last in 1978. And of course the Warriors are series favorites over the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. If you are wondering, the long shot on this prop is Cavaliers win, Lightning win and American Pharoah does not at +1000.
NBA Finals Props Pick: Warriors win, Blackhawks win and American Pharaoh does not win at +350. I'd love to see a Triple Crown but it's too hard to win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont in a five-week stretch. It's not a shock that the last Preakness winner to also take the Belmont was Afleet Alex in 2005.