The NBA Finals are upon us, with the Golden State Warriors facing off against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers for the fourth straight year.
Despite the heroic effort of James to get the Cavaliers to the Finals, the outcome feels like a foregone conclusion. ESPN asked 24 analysts for their prediction on the series, and all 24 picked the Warriors to prevail, and just two of them projected the series to even make it to seven games.
This should come as no surprise to anyone who has watched basketball this season. Cleveland has been the LeBron show more than ever, so much so that “The Other Cavaliers” earned a skit on “Saturday Night Live” earlier in the postseason. Meanwhile, Golden State employs two of the best five basketball players on the planet and four of the top 20. Unless a radioactive basketball bites Jeff Green and JR Smith in the next three days, it doesn’t feel like the Cavs have much of a chance.
That said, there are still plenty of reasons to watch the NBA Finals! First and foremost, it’s always a delight to watch the best in the world excel, and the Warriors will undoubtedly put on a show on their way to the title. And if LeBron somehow pulls off the upset, he’ll cement his legacy as the Greatest of All Time even further than he already had.
Also, there’s money to be made! Plenty of good bets are available for anyone looking to invest a bit of their finances to keep them engaged in the series. Take a look below at our best bets to make before tip-off of the NBA Finals.
All lines come courtesy of Sportsbook.ag.
Warriors to win the NBA Finals (-1100)
A Warriors win may feel like it’s predestined, but if you’re willing to put your money where your mouth is, there’s a good chance for brave bettors to score a payday.
At -1100, Golden State are the biggest Finals favourites in 16 years – you have to bet $US1,100 on them to win the series to win $US100. While that may feel like too significant a risk for the potential reward, there’s plenty of other money-making endeavours that would rejoice at the prospect of a 10% return on investment in just a week’s time.
If you have faith that the Cavaliers find a way to win, there’s plenty of money to be made for you as well – Cleveland is +700 on the series, meaning a $US100 bet will earn you $US700.
Warriors to win the NBA Finals in five games (+160)
Thankfully, there are plenty more ways to bet the final two weeks of the basketball season than picking a team to win the best-of-seven series, and the more specific you get, the better your odds become.
If you feel like the Warriors are taking this series but don’t want to lay the -1000 odds, you can instead pick the exact result of the series for a much better price – Warriors in 5 (+160) and Warriors in 4 (+215) are the two heavy favourites.
While it’s certainly a harder bet to hit, it’s a good chance to get positive odds on a Warriors win.
Stephen Curry wins NBA Finals MVP (+160)
Finals MVP is a fun bet for anyone who loves following the narratives of the NBA.
There are plenty of good candidates for the award this year. Reigning Finals MVP Kevin Durant (-150) is the favourite, and if you have faith in LeBron James (+625) to take the series to seven games, he’s a nice value to win the honour that he’s already taken home three times in his career.
That said, I think this year Stephen Curry (+160) is the clear bet to win Finals MVP. The Warriors have already won two titles with Curry as the face of the franchise, but the star shooter missed out on the award after Andre Iguodala impressed with his defence in 2015 and Kevin Durant went wild last year.
Look for Curry to be a leading scorer throughout the series, left generously open by a Cleveland defence that doesn’t go too deep beyond James.
Game 1: Warriors (-12.5) over Cavaliers
Taking this big a favourite is rarely a “sharp” play in Las Vegas, but the Warriors have a tendency to start with their foot on the gas, and the Cavaliers can sometimes start out a series asleep at the wheel.
Golden State took Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals 119-106 over the Rockets in Houston, so covering the hefty spread isn’t too unreasonable an ask. The Cavaliers dropped Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals to the Celtics 108-83 in a game that was never close.
If you’re looking for action on tonight’s game, look for the Warriors to pour it on at home.
Game 1: Cavaliers under 101 points
You could take the total over/under for the game, but the Warriors can go off on any given night, and the Cavaliers haven’t scored over 100 points on the road this postseason against any team besides the Raptors. It feels like a safer bet to keep your under money strictly on Cleveland.
Stephen Curry hits first three of Game 1 (+400)
This is just a “for the thrill of it” bet, but Stephen Curry to hit the first three at 4/1 feels pretty good in your head right?
Golden State will want to get the game started out right, and there’s no better way to get the Oracle crowd rocking than with a splash from Curry early. If you’re only planning on watching the first few minutes, this is an easy way to get invested.
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More NBA playoffs coverage:
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- LeBron once again showcased his photographic memory, recalling all 6 of his turnovers in exact detail
- Kevin Durant and Draymond Green wanted nothing to do with a postgame question about the Warriors-Thunder series 2 years ago
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