Warriors Listed as Largest NBA Finals Favorites Ever
For the fourth consecutive year, the Cleveland Cavaliers will be facing off with the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. The Cavaliers, on the shoulders of a herculean effort from LeBron James, were able to get past the Boston Celtics in 7 games. The Warriors, despite a resounding effort from the Houston Rockets, were able to skirt their way into yet another Finals appearance after a 7-game war of their own.
The Warriors have taken 2 of the first 3 head-to-head Finals showdowns with the Cavaliers, and Las Vegas says they’re massively favored to make it 3 titles in 4 seasons. The has installed the Warriors as a -1,000 preliminary favorite to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy later this summer at the Cavaliers’ expense. Per ESPN.com, Golden State is the biggest Finals favorite in at least the last 16 years.
Cleveland is listed at +650 to win the championship this season. This marks the longest odds a LeBron James-led team has ever faced in a Finals. Back in 2007, when James appeared in the Finals for the first time, his Cavaliers were listed as +360 underdogs against the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs would go on to sweep James and the Cavs that year to win their fourth NBA championship.
While the Cavaliers are the biggest series underdog in recent memory, the spread for Thursday’s Game 1 is also hefty. The Dubs have been installed as 12-point favorites to beat the Cavs in Oakland on Thursday night, which is the largest spread in a Finals game since the Los Angeles Lakers were 12-point favorites against the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 1 of the 2001 Finals. The Sixers would actually go on to win that game in L.A.
For perspective, the Warriors were listed around -300 to win the Finals over the Cavaliers last season. Behind Kevin Durant, Golden State would go on to dispose of the Cavs in 5 games.
The Cavs’ best odds came back in 2016 when they would actually go on to come back from a 3-1 series deficit to dethrone the Warriors in 7 games. Cleveland was a +180 pre-series underdog that season when James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving were all healthy.
Of course, quite a bit has changed in Cleveland since their championship season. Irving was shipped to the Celtics this past offseason in a trade the Cavs have very little left to show for. 2 of the players that came from Boston in the deal, Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder, were rerouted at this past February’s trade deadline as a part of the Cavaliers’ huge roster overhaul.
Love is also questionable to play in Game 1 of the Finals after sustaining a concussion in the team’s Game 6 win over the Celtics in the last round. Love would go on to miss Game 7.
Just having James on the roster has proven to be enough for Cleveland thus far. Despite having gotten inconsistent play from his supporting cast, the Cavs have managed to get past the Pacers, Raptors and Celtics on their way to the Finals. During the playoff run, James is averaging 34 points, 9.2 rebounds, 8.8 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.1 blocks per game.
James has now been listed as a series underdog in 7 of his 9 trips to the NBA’s championship series. LeBron has 3 championships to his name, the most recent of which came in 2016. James also won back-to-back championships as a member of the Miami Heat in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
Game 1 of the 2018 Finals will get underway from Oracle Arena in Oakland on Thursday, with tip-off scheduled for 9 pm Eastern.
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