2016 NBA Finals Odds: Can Cavs Stop the Warriors?
Published on June 01, 2016
The rematch everyone was hoping for finally arrives on Thursday night, when the Golden State Warriors will welcome the Cleveland Cavaliers back into Oracle Arena. The defending champs meet up with the very team they ousted in the Finals a year ago, only this time Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love look to be around, healthy and ready to contribute.
It was LeBron James doing much of the heavy lifting in last year’s Finals, a role that led to some inefficient play, but initially gave the Cavs a 2-1 series lead. While the Dubs are more battle tested and have a lot more logic supporting their case, Cleveland can at least hang their hat on the fact that they were in it last year and this time around come at the Warriors with much more firepower.
Vegas doesn’t seem to care about Cleveland being healthier for the second NBA Finals meeting between these two teams, of course, and you can see that at Bovada with Golden State as the obvious favorite to win in this matchup for the second year in a row:
While Golden State is the clear pick, Vegas doesn’t see the Cavs as such extreme underdogs that you can win a ton of cash if you pick them to win. Instead, if you want to win off of LeBron James and co., you may have to bet a specific bet. Bovada offers that, too, as you can bet the series outcome, and depending on which way you go, it just might be highly profitable:
With it being somewhat unlikely that Cleveland wins the series in general, the first two bets of Cleveland sweeping or winning in five games stand to return some serious cash if they manage to pan out. A $100 bet on a Cavs sweep could return $2,500 to an ambitious bettor.
That’s unlikely to happen, given the fact that the Dubs have home court advantage and just came back from a 3-1 hole in the Western Conference Finals. They’re probably too good to lose this series, but they’re certainly too good to get blanked.
A more realistic pick would be this series ending in six or seven games, and that argument could genuinely tilt in either team’s favor. That is, of course, before you take a closer look at each team’s arguments.
They haven’t won before, and here they are, back in the NBA Finals for the second straight season and the third time ever in King James’ career with the team.
But this time it’s different. The Cavs are different.
Torn apart by injuries a year ago, Cleveland is now back with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love at full strength, ready to pick up where they left off in a 4-2 title defeat.
Revenge is also on the brain, while the Cavs also have been disrespected as the early underdogs. James carries the weight of an entire state on his shoulders and he badly wants to get Cleveland it’s first NBA championship.
There is also the potential x-factor of outside shooter Channing Frye, the potential emergence of big man Timofey Mozgov, the nasty defense of the pesky Matthew Dellavedova and the new direction of head coach Tyronn Lue. Frye was a mid-season addition that has paid off a couple times already with hot outside shooting in these very playoffs, Dellavedova gave Curry fits in the first few games in the Finals last year, Lue seems to have put Cleveland’s egos in check and Mozzy forced the Warriors to switch things up last year after owning the paint to start the series.
If the Cavs can use those angles correctly, get James and Irving in attack mode at the right times and get back and defend, they might have something here.
Determination, health, talent and revenge all combine together to give the Cavs an edge the Warriors may not have. Throw in some solid outside shooting, some size down low for rebounding and a solid defense that can help control a game’s pace, and Cleveland might have a real shot at shocking the world.
This is their world and we’re just living in it. The defending champs are the kings of adapting, as they proved last year in the Finals and yet again after staring a 3-1 hole in the face in the Western Conference Finals. More importantly, they boast a two-time MVP, two of the best shooters in the game, a tenacious defender in Draymond Green and an arsenal of bodies that effectively drained LeBron James in the biggest series a year ago.
This is also a team that won an NBA-record 73 games, simply does not lose at home (three home losses all year) and is equally nasty on the road. They survived a scare in the Western Conference Finals against a team that was better equipped to take them down than Cleveland is, and in all reality, probably is the better team than the Cavs, in general.
As much as the revenge factor aids Cleveland, it might aid the Dubs even more. Curry and co. have been disrespected by the league and LeBron James specifically countless times in the past year, which has been part of what has fueled their insane 73-game run and historic comeback in the previous round. Are they about to stop short of their goal just because James wants to get his city a title? It’s doubtful.
The last element that pushes Golden State over the top is that they’re winning in a way we just aren’t accustomed to. They just defy logic with their outside shooting, they can turn on their defense in the blink of an eye and they excel in the midst of contained chaos. On paper, that’s not something the Cavs can compete with.
Everything comes up Warriors in this series. They have the shooting, the defense, the home court edge and they’ve been more battle tested in the far more competitive conference. Cleveland is stronger than they were a year ago, but getting Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love back only helps their offense. Neither is a strong defender and considering they’d be tasked with trying to slow down Stephen Curry and Draymond Green, the results can’t be expected to be great.
Cleveland will be better and they will get closer, but they’re still missing something. Their game is also largely about pace, and several of the games they won on their path back to the Finals saw them bust things open, hit outside shots and run the floor. That’s exactly Golden State’s game, and if the Cavs even excel at that, it could play right into the Dubs’ hands. It’s not an exciting bet, but we’ll take the Warriors in six.