NBA Playoffs 2015 - Betting Odds & Predictions
NBA Finals 2015 was supposed to be all over after Thursday. The Cleveland Cavaliers had the Golden State Warriors on the ropes and let them escape. LeBron James – for some strange reason – had taken a fall-away jumper that missed and allowed victory to become overtime and eventual loss. Kyrie Irving had limped off the floor with a bad knee that had been nagging him for days. The Cavaliers should have won the game, they didn’t, and the NBA playoffs would go down as one bad dream for Cleveland. There was simply no way they could pull off this series.
Then came Sunday and the reminder that, when making NBA playoffs predictions, counting LeBron James out is pure folly. In a game that carried much the same form as the first game, James and the Cavaliers again appeared to let the Warriors off the hook in regulation. But the Cavs did just enough in overtime to win this one, 95-93. And NBA Finals 2015 suddenly has renewed intrigue.
The two teams roll into Cleveland on Tuesday with the championship series tied at one game each. Now there is good reason to believe that the Cavaliers should take at least one game there, if not both. But the Cavs weren’t even supposed to be here. With not one but both of James’ sidekicks, Irving and Kevin Love, out of the team photo, the Cavs were supposed to be out of it, or at least down 0-2. Now one of the most predictable series of the basketball playoffs becomes one of the most unpredictable.
What is predictable about basketball playoffs is a James performance. He had 39 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists on Sunday, the one-man wrecking crew the Cavs needed to pull them through. More surprising was the performance of Matthew Dellavedova as a fill in for Irving. He was not exactly stupendous on offense. But he made the go-ahead free throws in overtime, and more than that, put forth a gritty effort in defending the Warriors star and NBA MVP, Stephen Curry. Trying to shake Dellavedova, Curry shot 5 of 23 from the field, 2 of 15 from three-point range and finished with just 19 points. The Warriors had to rely on the brilliance of Curry’s running buddy, Klay Thompson. The wild card of this series, Thompson came up big, scoring from almost anywhere and finishing with 34 points.
Now, making NBA playoffs predictions is fun again. Not easy, but fun. The Warriors were a six-point favorite for Game 1. After that 108-100 overtime Golden State victory, and Irving’s exit, making the Warriors a seven-point favorite for Game 2 seemed more than fair. Now the oddsmakers are scrambling to correct themselves and placing the Cavaliers at -1 for Tuesday’s game in Cleveland.
According to history, most anything can happen. Last year at this time, James and his Miami Heat team were a close call going into their title series with San Antonio. The Heat stole a game in San Antonio and were 1-1 heading home. Strangely enough, James and the Heat were soundly trounced in the next three games, and San Antonio went home with the prize.
So making a prediction in this set of basketball playoffs requires answering a few questions:
Can Golden State shoot better on the road than the 39 percent they put up on Sunday at home?
Can the Cavaliers continue to maintain the advantage underneath with Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson switching off? The Cavs outrebounded the Warriors 55-45 in Game 2.
Whose bench will show up? Golden State’s Andre Iguodala contributed a solid 15 points in Game 1, and the Cavaliers’ J.R. Smith answered with 13 in Game 2.
Just what will LeBron James do next? He seems to get better with age, and with restful breaks between these finals games, there’s little reason to think he can’t continue his excellence. But he bears all of Cleveland on his shoulders.
One thing is for certain; NBA finals 2015 is a ton more interesting than it was just a few days ago.
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