One half of the NBA Finals are set as the Cavaliers made relatively easy work of the Raptors last night in Toronto. Kevin Love and Kyrie exorcised their North of the Border demons and LeBron played like he was possessed by one; and the result was an easier-than-expected victory. LeBron now awaits the winner of tonight’s series for his SIXTH straight Finals appearance.
So will it all be settled tonight? Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have looked the better team throughout the series and now return home to the scene where they hung consecutive 72-point first halves on the Champs, en route to a pair of blowout victories. They are favored in Vegas for the first time tonight and have a chance to close out Golden State and make it back to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2012.
Does OKC close them out? Can they dominate them again? Or can Golden State follow Cleveland’s blue print from last night – shaking off the road woes of just a few days ago only to return as a different, more efficient, and hungrier team? Steph Curry screamed enthusiastically that “they ain’t goin’ home!” at the end of Game Five. They are certainly going home after tonight’s game – the only question is whether it will be to host a Game Seven or for a long, painful, summer vacation…
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Today’s Free Pick:
Golden State Warriors at Oklahoma City Thunder -2.5
Last night’s Cavs game has nothing to do with tonight’s. But it still gave me pause, as it was a reminder that NBA Series turn on a dime, and that what happened two night ago and two games ago can be completely irrelevant. It could serve as a reminder to be very, very careful dismissing the greatest team in the history of the NBA regular season and the defending champs.
But man, seeing HOW OKC dominated the Warriors in Games Three and Four is tough to displace from the memory. Even in Game Five, they LOOKED like no worse than an equal team, and in many instances, the physically superior one.
So what to do with tonight’s game? Is it wimpy to say, today is a small play for me? Even if so, I think it is fair to say that if there were four or five games on the schedule, I’d be looking elsewhere for a safer read. This game truly could go in lots of different directions and NONE would be surprising. Would you be stunned if Golden State came out and hit shots, defended well, moved the basketball and won the game? Of course not. Would you be stunned if they came out swinging, by dammit, OKC is just BETTER, and then the Thunder overwhelmed them once more at home? Not a bit.
So I am going to go with the more logical pick as opposed to the theoretical (and possibly hopeful – as who doesn’t want to see a Game Seven?) and take the team that has LOOKED better and is playing on their home floor. Golden State looked weary from the pressure in Game Four. The pressure is even more severe tonight. How will they respond if OKC once again comes out hot at home?
I wouldn’t bet my life wagering against the Warriors. It has been a fool’s errand for the last two seasons pretty consistently. But right now, I think the Thunder are just BETTER. I’m making a small play on them, gulp, closing out the greatest team in regular season NBA history…