The Cleveland Cavaliers played about as well as they could have and Golden State pretty poorly yet the Warriors won Game 1 of the Finals in overtime. Might we be now looking at a sweep? Here are a few props that stand out to me for Sunday's Game 2.
Certainly any props will be affected by the news that Cavaliers All-Star guard Kyrie Irving will miss the rest of the series. He was generally a 20-25/1 long shot to win NBA Finals MVP so hopefully your money didn't go there. It's too bad because Irving was fantastic before hurting his knee in overtime -- just think, if that LeBron James fadeaway or Iman Shumpert put-back jumper goes in, then there is no overtime, the Cavs steal home court advantage and Irving is healthy. Alas, neither happened and now Irving is done with a fractured kneecap. He was the second-best player behind LeBron in Game 1 (including all Warriors) with 23 points, seven rebounds, six assists, four steals and two blocks in 44 minutes. His block on a seemingly easy open layup on Steph Curry with about 30 seconds to go in the fourth quarter was amazing. That would have given Golden State a 2-point lead, but Irving's defensive play -- it would have gone down as one of the best in Finals history had Cleveland won -- gave the Cavs a chance to win it. I see no chance for Cleveland to win this series now. If it gets to six games, that means LeBron has continued his super-human efforts. The Warriors are now heavy -750 series favorites on the NBA odds at Bovada. The game line rose two points to 8.5 after it was announced Irving was done.
LeBron James Props:
Total points + rebounds + assists -- 'over/under' 51.5
Total made free-throws -- O/U 7
Total made 3-pointers -- O/U 1.5
Will James have a double-double -- yes-only at -500
Will James make 12 or more field goals -- yes-only at +200
Will James top 33.5 points -- yes-only at +200
Will James top 9.5 assists -- yes-only at +225
Team to have the highest scorer -- Cavaliers -2.5 vs. Warriors
James had 44 points (but only 18 of 38 from the field and that potential game-winner at the end of regulation really wasn't a good shot), eight rebounds and six assists in Game 1. The Warriors adopted a clear strategy: no double teams. They threw Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala (on James for that game-winning attempt -- great defense), Harrison Barnes and even occasionally Klay Thompson at James. But Golden State was going to let LeBron get his points and not let him win by racking up double-digit assists to open shooters. For example, J.R. Smith had only nine points and Iman Shumpert six. Those guys are going to have to go nuts for Cleveland to get a win in this series. One prop I recommended for Game 1 was a series prop on whether LeBron would lead the Cavs in scoring every game. I said yes and that seems a lock now.
NBA Finals Props Picks: 'Over' on the points, rebounds and assists, 'over' on the free-throws, 'over' on the 3-pointers (although he needs to stop shooting them), no double-double, definitely yes on the field goals, yes on the points and no on the assists. I expect another 40-point game so take the Cavs on the highest-scoring prop with your NBA picks.
Stephen Curry Props:
Total points + rebounds + assists -- 'over/under' 40.5
Total made free-throws -- O/U 3.5
Will Curry have a double-double -- yes-only at +120
Will Curry score over 31.5 points -- yes-only at +175
Obviously the Irving injury helps the Warriors, but in a way I think it might hamper Curry a bit. While Irving had that spectacular block on Curry, he's really not a good defensive player. The guy who will take a lot of his minutes, Matthew Dellavedova, is. Plus he's a total pest so it wouldn't surprise me to see Curry get a technical but no prop for that. Dellavedova will be draped on Curry all game. So I don't expect a huge points game from Curry but more of a play-maker role in getting other guys the ball. I could see double-digit assists, but he will definitely get some free-throw attempts because he's the MVP and he's going to get some calls on Dellavedova because of the reputation the Aussie has.
NBA Finals Props Picks: 'Under' the points + rebounds + assists, 'over' free-throws, I would roll the dice on the double-double (say 18 points, 11 assists) and no on the 31.5.