NBA Picks Cavaliers-Warriors Game 1: 'Under' to Cash in Finals Opener

Jason Lake

Thursday, June 4, 2015 2:57 PM GMT

Thursday, Jun. 4, 2015 2:57 PM GMT

The Cleveland Cavaliers have bullied their way into the Finals. The under is 11-3-1 for the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs. Looks like an easy NBA pick – or is it?

Jason’s record as of June 3: 80-83-5 ATS, 20-22 Totals, plus-0.15 units ML, 6-4 Series (plus-2.0 units)

 

If you haven't been betting the UNDER with the Golden State Warriors in these playoffs, you've been missing out. This has been one of the easiest and most lucrative NBA picks in recent memory; the UNDER is 11-3-1 for the Warriors thus far, and with the arrival of even more casual bettors on the scene for their Finals series against the Cleveland Cavaliers, we can expect the totals to remain inflated for Thursday's Game 1.

So far, so good. As we go to press, there's a total of 202.5 points on Thursday's NBA odds board, and our early consensus reports show 51 percent of bettors taking the OVER. You can get a total of 203 if you shop around; that might edge even higher once the betting public weighs in closer to tip-off (9:00 p.m. ET, ABC). Now all we need is for both teams to keep doing what they've been doing.

 

Australian Rules Basketball
That's the tricky part. Cleveland has the UNDER at 8-6, playing a smashmouth style of basketball with both Timofey Mozgov (plus-2.4 playoff DBPM) and Tristan Thompson (plus-1.0 playoff DBPM) clogging the paint, and Matthew Dellavedova taking people's legs out. But if the Cavaliers are going to have any chance of beating the Warriors, they might have to play a lot of smallball.

As effective as the Mozgov-Thompson combo has been on defense, Mozgov has a minus-1.6 OBPM in the playoffs – the only regular part of the rotation to post a minus Offensive Box Plus/Minus for the Cavs. And that's despite grabbing 3.9 offensive rebounds per 36 minutes. That was fine against the scoring-challenged Boston Celtics. It was good enough against the injury-plagued Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks.

It's not going to be good enough against the Warriors. Even with the UNDER cashing in like crazy, Golden State is second in offensive efficiency in these playoffs at 107.3 points per 100 possessions, behind only Cleveland at 108.6 points/100. The Warriors can go big or small and score practically at will. Kyrie Irving (minus-0.2 playoff DBPM) is especially vulnerable with his mobility limited by tendinitis in his left knee. The Cavs almost have to go small just to keep Irving from getting exposed on defense.

Must Read: Here's our Cavaliers-Warriors NBA pick on the Money Line for Game 1

Possession Obsession
Then you have LeBron James (24.8 playoff PER) playing hero ball – which has been justified up to this point, given the injuries on his team and the opposition he's faced thus far in the East. That inefficiency has helped the UNDER get to the pay window, but again, if Cleveland is going to compete in this series, James will need his teammates to fire away from the perimeter. Irving (48.1 percent), Dellavedova (36.0 percent), J.R. Smith (39.6 percent), Iman Shumpert (36.8 percent) and James Jones (35.3 percent) have all enjoyed some postseason success from behind the arc. James (17.6 percent) has not.

At the other end, one of the reasons the Warriors have pounded the UNDER is that their pace has dwindled from a league-high 100.7 possessions per game in the regular season to 96.6 in the playoffs. That's what happens when you play against teams like the New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzlies. If the Cavaliers go smallball and up-tempo instead, those possessions will increase, as will the points scored.

This whole smallball thing is all conjecture for now – we don't know exactly how the Cavaliers will approach this series, although we can probably count on Mozgov and Thompson to play a fair amount together in Game 1. Let's stay the course for now and keep the UNDER in our basketball picks, but be prepared to flip the switch for Game 2.

Free NBA Pick: Take UNDER at BetOnline

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":, "sportsbooksIds":[1096,19,43,227,999996,93,238,123,139], "LineTypeId":5, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]

comment here