Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, May 28, 2015 at 12:00 AM
EXTRA, EXTRA –
IT’S YOUR FIRST LOOK AT
THIS YEAR’S NBA FINALS
AS THE HYPE BEGINS FOR
Hear ye, hear ye …
According to the Las Vegas experts, we’re right where we should be heading into next week’s NBA Finals:
The Golden State Warriors – fresh off last night’s 104-90 win/cover against 9.5-point underdog Houston in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals – entered this year’s playoffs listed as a 5-to-2 betting favorite to win the championship while the Cleveland Cavaliers were a tad closer to a 3-to-1 price to win it all … so no major surprise that both of these megastar-driven teams made it here even though we must point out that NBA Playoff Betting Favorites exited the Eastern/Western Conference Finals at a collective 32-41-1 ATS (against the spread) with one pick ‘em game, meaning post-season chalk has covered at just a .438 rate … yuck!
For what it’s worth, let us remind you that the Warriors will enter the NBA Finals – beginning Thursday, June 4th – at just 7-8 versus the vig overall this post-season (that’s a .467 winning rate) while extinguishing the likes of the New Orleans Pelicans (in four straight), the Memphis Grizzlies (in six games) and the Houston Rockets (in a five-game set).
Meanwhile, the Cavaliers will enter the NBA Finals at just 8-7 spreadwise in playoff action (a modest .533 winning rate) after Cleveland copped playoff series wins against the Boston Celtics (in a four-game sweep), the Chicago Bulls (in six games) and the East’s top-seeded Atlanta Hawks (in yet another four-game sweep) but – as you can see – add up the Warriors’ and Cavaliers’ post-season spread marks and you get a dead-even but vig-losing 15-15 record.
That’s called nothing to write home about!
Let’s take a second to review the NBA Playoffs round-by-round pointspread records:
1st Round – Playoff Favs went 20-19-1 ATS with 1 pick ‘em game
2nd Round – Playoff Favs went 10-15-0
Conference Finals – Playoff Favs went 2-7-0
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS –
GOLDEN STATE 104, HOUSTON 90 – Warriors win series 4-1
It’s agreed that last night’s double-digit home win by the G-State Warriors – yes, the one that sent ‘em to the franchise’s first NBA Finals since 1975 – was hardly a thing of beauty but you think that matters to the whoop-it-up fans of the Bay Area?
The Warriors scored an anemic 17 points in the first quarter, shot a lowly 37-of-91 from the floor (that’s just 40.7 percent) and missed 10 free throws yet an early fourth-quarter 13-4 scoring run just about put this game out of Houston’s range and every little Rockets’ surge in the game’s final seven or eight minutes came up short at every turn.
On a night when league MVP/G Stephen Curry – that first megastar we mentioned a few paragraphs back in this Jim Sez column – needed 21 FG tries to register a game-high 26 points – it was some dynamic play by oft-forgotten Warriors’ small forward Harrison Barnes (24 points and 7 rebounds) that really provided the needed sparks for the winningest team in the NBA this year (see 67 regular-season wins for Golden State and another 12 this post-season against a composite 18 defeats … a wild .814 winning percentage overall).
Okay, so Houston pretty much shot itself in the foot here in Game 5 as MVP runner-up James Harden was miserable with a playoff-record 13 turnovers to go along with just 14 points on 2-of-11 FG shooting (and we thought it was even worse!) and gotta say we were sickened by a batch of cheap shots by C Dwight Howard (a hollow 18 points and 16 rebounds in the end although he probably should have been tossed from the game on two or three occasions) – we’d say the Rockets simply ran out of gas but after a solid first quarter it didn’t seem as if their hearts were “in it” and so the Warriors are back in the Finals after a prolonged 40-year wait.
Now, here’s a game-by-game look at how this NBA Western Conference series went between the Rockets and the Warriors (home teams in CAPS below):
On Tuesday night, it was …
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS –
CLEVELAND 118, ATLANTA 88 – Cavaliers win series 4-0
Let’s just put a capper on the Cavaliers’ spiffy four-game sweep by saying this:
You can’t just quantify the contributions of one LeBron James simply by spouting out numbers … such as his Game 4 stat line of 23 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists -- because he’s carried this somewhat vagabond Cleveland team to the promised land without an injured Kevin Love (gone for these playoffs with his shoulder injury) and with a tattered/battered PG Kyrie Irving (16 points in 22 minutes of this recent series-clinching win) for much of the past week-plus.
Here’s how the Eastern Conference Finals went between the Hawks and the Cavaliers (note home teams in CAPS below):
NBA FINALS –
The reality of the situation is that James – headed to a sixth NBA Finals in all and a fifth consecutive appearance in the ultimate round – could well be headed to hoops immortality if he can get this franchise to win four more games and thus snap the dreaded five-decade title drought in the oft-mocked city of Cleveland.
Now, will the Cavaliers versus the Warriors simply come down to a Curry vs. James showdown on the score sheet?
Not likely but let’s say this as we take an early peek at this year’s intriguing NBA Finals matchup – we don’t think the Cavaliers can win unless James is a 30 ppg scorer and borders on the nightly “triple double” but we do think the Warriors can “get by” even if Curry doesn’t score 30-plus points based simply on the belief that fellow “Splash Brother” Klay Thompson – injured ear and all – can get out from trey-land and there’s enough folks to score at/around the hoops with garbage points and on the fast break where the Cavaliers might well be vulnerable once King James takes it to the hoop.
Yes, it’s a rookie coach matchup of Golden State’s Steve Kerr against Cleveland’s David Blatt – and that’s not happened since the league was in Year One -- plus it’s two teams that are literally on the rise (again, neither one of ‘em was forced to play a single elimination game this post-season) and now they have a full week-plus to rest some bruised and banged-up bodies.
Toss into the mix they split their two regular-season meetings – the Warriors won 112-94 at home back on Jan. 9th as Thompson/Curry combined for 47 points and James was a DNP for Cleveland and later the Cavaliers copped a 110-99 win on Feb. 26th behind 42 points by James.
Enjoy the hype – there will be plenty of it between now and June 4th.
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers continue to rake in the profits in this year’s NBA Playoffs and we’ll continue to rock-n-roll through the NBA Finals too!
Go online right here at www.jimhurley.com or call our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 each/every day and cash in with all the NBA Playoffs and remember there’s Major-League Baseball on tap every day too!
Okay, so let’s wrap up on NBA-flavored column today with a look at the series prices in the three playoff rounds that both the Warriors and Cavaliers just played:
(All based on $100 per play wagers)
Warriors (- 6000) over Pelicans
Warriors (- 1000) over Grizzlies
Warriors (- 1100) over Rockets
(Again, based on $100 per play wagers)
Cavaliers (- 3500) over Celtics
Cavaliers (- 260) over Bulls
Cavaliers (- 225) over Hawks
NOTE: Catch MLB News & Notes and more NBA Finals goodies in the very next edition of Jim Sez … so don’t dare miss out!