NBA Finals: For Now, the Cavs Look Good
From the preseason all the way through the bumps and bruises of the playoffs, we’ve kinda known it would be these two. The Golden State Warriors and their long-range shooters would emerge from the wild, wild West, and the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers would survive the rough-and-tumble East. It has developed into a NBA finals matchup of star-led teams that was fairly predictable. Now we have James vs. Stephen Curry, muscle vs. flash and slash, tepid pace vs. run and gun, all wrapped into one best-of-seven series that begins Thursday night in Oakland.
The Cavaliers’ cast isn’t quite as expected. They lost one third of their triumvirate of stars when forward Kevin Love dropped to the wayside with a shoulder injury during the playoff run. And point guard Kyrie Irving is nursing a knee injury suffered in post season. Still, the Cavs managed to stave off their toughest foes, the Chicago Bulls in six games, and the Atlanta Hawks in four. The Warriors needed six games to overcome the Memphis Grizzlies and five to deal with James Harden and the Houston Rockets.
For handicappers, the series is a bit of a head scratcher. The less-experienced team, the one that relies largely on a fast pace punctuated by three-point shooting, has been installed as the solid favorite. The Cavaliers, a team that runs with possibly the best player in the history of the game and relies a bit more on muscle, are the underdogs.
The outcome of the series may come down to who can control the pace. It may take a game or two to figure it out, but for now, the Cavs at +6 in Game 1 looks good. They’ve been effective on the playoff road thus far (5-2 ATS), while the Warriors have been tested at home (3-5 ATS). The rest-vs.-rust factor favors the under 202.5, also. Both teams have had more than a week off, so it’ll take time to get the legs and shooting arms going. If the game is somehow a blowout, watch the line movement closely, and don’t overreact.
PICK: Cleveland +6, Under 202.5
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