As far as opening salvos go, that was a pretty darn good one.
The Golden State Warriors, already the heavy Vegas favorite, but object of some skepticism by many of the media who cover the NBA, answered the bell with a dominating Game One effort, punctuated by a blistering 33-20 third quarter which saw a five-point lead explode to a twenty two point lead in a blink of an eye. Kevin Durant poured in an easy 38 points, easily off-setting a near triple double by LeBron, who despite some nice counting statistics was far from “peak LeBron” in terms of turnovers and overall floor game.
Vegas rarely overreacts to any single game sample size, but the public has forced a seven point line all the way to nine as we head into Game Two. Is that an overreaction? Or is this series really a foregone conclusion after just one (albeit dominating) game??
The series price went from -300 to -700 on Bovada and the value on the Cavs jumped from +200 to +450. Yes, the Warriors are a perfect 13-0 in the postseason, but these prices have gotten pretty severe. Is The King really dead? And are you willing to lay one to seven odds on it, especially after last year’s 3-1 resurrection?
Today’s NBA Pick:
NBA FINALS GAME TWO
Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors -9 (Total: 221)
The Warriors won and covered game one with ease and the line has widened to near double-digits in Game Two. Such is the power of the mighty Warriors, as I am going to venture it has been nearly a decade since a healthy LeBron was a double-digit underdog against anyone, anywhere.
And I’m willing to back the bounce-back. Basketball is all about making shots, and NO ONE on the Cavaliers shot the ball well in Game One. Maybe it was Golden State’s defense, but at least some of it was the randomness of sports giving us as extraneous variable on the extreme low end. The Cavs shot 34.9% from the floor and turned the ball over 15 times (eight by LeBron). Both of those numbers are well outside the statistical norm. If they can improve to just 40%, take care of the basketball and grab a few rebounds, you are looking at a completely different basketball game.
Easier said than done, agreed. There is some truth in acknowledging the Warriors greatness, but I am not yet ready to concede this series as worthless television and a foregone result. Tonight is Cleveland’s ‘line in the sand’ game, and I expect a MUCH bolder effort, especially on the glass – an area of the game that was foremost in them stretching the series to six games in 2015 and in winning in 2016. Game One, they got crushed, allowing 14 offensive rebounds. Tristan Thompson grabbed just one defensive board in 22 minutes. Look for that to improve. Also look for LeBron to cut his turnovers AT LEAST in half. Between 15 turnovers and 14 offensive boards, they have the Cavs 29 extra possessions. Of course they got blown out. If they can halve that overall number, Sunday should be close.
I am not going Cavs on the moneyline, but I am going “good, tense game” for Game Two.
Nine points is a pretty soft cushion for a pair of teams with comparable talent and postseason metrics. The Warriors have a lot of the recent trend statistics in their favor in terms of covering games and winning margin, but I think the defending champs have a lot more fight in them this evening and too much LeBron and Kyrie to get run out of the building twice in a row.
Today’s NBA Pick: CLEVELAND CAVALIERS +9