Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay side that has a better chance of cashing than its spread, offering long term value. Here is their Side Value Play for Thursday.
With both teams now being off for over a week, the NBA Finals are finally set to begin and the home court advantage may decide Game 1 as it often does when the second seeds from the East the Cleveland Cavaliers (65-31, 29-20 away) pay a visit to the team with the best record in the NBA from the West the Golden State Warriors (79-18, 46-3 home) for Game 1 from Oracle Arena in Oakland, CA at 9:05 ET in a game televised nationally on ABC.
The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Golden State as a decided home favorite for this contest with the current line at -6 with odds of -101.
The Series Everyone Anticipated
These were the two favorites to win their respective conferences before these playoffs began, making this the anticipated matchup that most were expecting, and we think this series has the potential to be an exciting and possibly long one. The oddsmakers may disagree with us though as the Warriors have been installed as healthy favorites to be crowned NBA Champions, with the series price currently ranging from -225 to -250 depending on the book.
While that may be understandable with the Warriors finishing 67-15 during the regular season and the Cavaliers being only the second seeds in the weaker Eastern Conference behind the Atlanta Hawks, this still seems like a big price to give to the team that boasts the greatest player on the planet in LeBron James at this time of the year. And the Cavaliers just showed their superiority over the top seeded Hawks with a four-game NBA Picks sweep in the Eastern Finals.
Warriors Have Game 1 History on Their Side
But as for Game 1, being home has always been huge in the NBA Finals and that in itself would probably be reason enough to back the Warriors on Thursday. But on top of that, Golden State does not have just your typical home court advantage as the Warriors are now 46-3 straight up in Oakland this year combining the regular season and playoffs with a whopping average winning margin of +13.5 points!
And besides the Warriors riding the emotions of a vociferous and raucous home crowd to a handy win not being anything out of the ordinary, Golden State also has recent NBA Finals Game 1 history on its side. You see, since 2002, NBA Finals Game 1 home teams have gone 11-2 straight up and 10-3 ATS while winning by an average margin of +9.0 points, a spread that would be good enough to cover this point spread.
Cavaliers Would Not be Finished with a Loss
Now do not get us wrong, LeBron should still leave his stamp on this series before it is through, and he should only be motivated further by going up against the league MVP in Stephen Curry. And James has certainly sparkled during these playoffs while averaging 25.3 points, 7.4 assists and 6.0 rebounds including eight double-doubles and a historic triple-double in Game 3 vs. Atlanta where he has 37 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists.
Also keep in mind that the Cavaliers currently lead the playoffs in both offensive efficiency with 108.6 points per 100 possessions and in points against defensively at just 92.6 per game, a combination that suggests that Cleveland is an extremely live underdog in this series, not that any team that boasts James at this price can be counted out in any event.
This is simply a case of us believing bucking the emotional Oakland crowd in Game 1 being too much for the Cavaliers to overcome, although as of this moment we do give Cleveland a realistic chance of stealing Game 2 here. So much so in fact that besides our Game 1 selection on the Warriors, we also played a prop on Golden State winning Game 1 and then losing the series at +540 odds!
Golden State has dominated ATS Head-to-Head
But sticking with the immediate task at hand, we expect Curry & Co. to draw first blood at home, keeping in mind that the Warriors are now 9-3 ATS in the last 12 head-to-head meetings overall.
Thus, although this contest may not be a precursor of how the rest of the NBA Finals will go, give the points with Golden State at home in Oakland over Cleveland in Game 1 on Thursday.
NBA Pick: Warriors -6 (-101)