THE NBA Finals get underway on Thursday night. We got NBA punting expert Nick Wells (@nvw89) to preview the action.
NBA Finals | Cleveland Cavaliers v Golden State Warriors | June 2015
After grinding their way through 82 regular season games, three play-off series’ and countless injuries, two teams have finally made it to the NBA Finals as the Kings Cleveland Cavaliers meet the best of the west, the Golden State Warriors.
Even though the Cavs were 66/1 outsiders at the start of the season (before numerous trades, including the return of Lebron James) and the Warriors were available at 25/1, it soon became apparent at the midway stage of the season that this was always going to be the most obvious final and although fairly predictable, it still feels right.
Lebron James is a four time MVP and the greatest player on the planet and there’s not many people that would disagree with that statement, although there would be plenty of people that would have this years MVP, Steph Curry, a very close second. So, the fact that we get to see this pair of basketball juggernauts battle it out for the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy only seems fitting.
I won’t lie, I don’t think this is the easiest of finals to predict, nor is it the best of betting heats. However, I still think there is some value to be had and plenty of basketball to be enjoyed. So let’s get stuck in!
The odds compilers in Vegas no doubt have a bit of a poison pill scenario here where they will likely have large liabilities all round and thus will lose money on either side winning (as this was the most likeliest final). This does mean however that different books will be offering different odds as per the needs of their balance sheet.
This allows us to shop around a bit and eek out that extra slither of value. The Golden State Warriors come in to these finals as solid favourites (4/9 Ladbrokes) and to be honest it’s easy to see why. They’re the best team in the league this year. Simple as that. In fact they’re the best team since the ‘95 Chicago Bulls! That’s scary.
The truth is, if you held a gun to my head and asked me to pick between these two teams, I would pick the Golden State Warriors. However, are they backable at odds on playing against a team lead by a man that’s been to the finals for the last five consecutive years?! No. I don’t think they are.
I have this series a lot tighter than the bookmakers suggest and I think that at the odds and for our purposes, Cleveland are backable at 2/1. The two teams only met twice in the regular season and they both won one game each. Although it must be noted that both James and defensive stalwart Iman Shumpert missed the defeat in Oakland, whilst James scored 42 points in the home win.
Another thing in the favour of the Cavs is their improving defence, which has got better with each play off series. This new found intensive defence combined with the fact that the Warriors haven’t been as lethal offensively in front of their home fans in the play offs as they were in the regular season means that I think James and his troops can exploit this match up.
As hard as it will be to stop The Splash Brothers and the Warriors’ superior bench, I think the Cavs can give us a decent run for our money and at 2/1 it’s worth a go!
Much like the Outright Winner market, the MVP betting is quite lopsided. The bookmakers have reigning regular season MVP Steph Curry as the overwhelming favourite, pricing him up at 1/2.
This is understandable when you consider that only one man, Jerry West (the guy in the NBA logo) has ever won the award whilst playing on the losing team. So with Curry being the main man in Oakland, Warriors being favourites and the fact he’s one of the greatest shooters of all time you can see why there’s so much love for the diminutive point guard.
If this is your kind of price, then by all means load up a cannon and fill your boots. However, for most of you who are recreational players that want something to follow over the next 4-7 games, I am going to look for somebody at a juicier price and that somebody is Draymond Green.
I’m keen to back a Golden State player in this market as a bit of insurance just in case the Cavs fail to win the title. Green is the emotional heart and soul of this team and has had a real breakthrough year this season. He’s a player that fills up the stat sheet across the board and that kind of overall production won't go unnoticed, especially if he’s able to shut down LeBron James on the defensive end.
I think he’s having a similar campaign to the one Kawhi Leonard had when he won the NBA Finals MVP with the Spurs last year and at 25/1 (BetVictor) he represents real value.
Player performance markets have fast become my favourite markets to bet on in the NBA and the ‘Top Point Scorer’ market for NBA Finals is no different. Effectively this is a two man race between Lebron James (Av. 27.6 Pts) and Steph Curry (Av. 29.2 Pts). Both players are their respective teams first option offensively and thus will do much of the heavy lifting.
The deciding factor for me is the fact that I feel Golden State have a few more alternative offensive options than Cleveland so the scoring may be shared around that little bit more, whilst the Cavs defence will be sure to put up a much stiffer challenge than my beloved Houston Rockets did in the previous round.
The fact that Kyrie Irving is still not quite right makes me believe that LeBron James will wholeheartedly take over the burden of putting the ball in the basket and at 5/6, he is my pick to be the top point scorer in the 2015 NBA Finals.
NBA Finals – Cleveland Cavaliers to win series (2/1 Coral)
NBA Finals MVP – Steph Curry (1/2 William Hill)
NBA Finals MVP – Draymond Green (25/1 BetVictor)
NBA Finals Top Point Scorer – LeBron James (5/6 Paddy Power)
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