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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, June 3, 2015 at 7:00 AM

Many were complaining at first about the long layoff between the NBA Conference Championships and the League Finals. But, all of that extra time has only heightened the anticipation and hype for what could turn out to be one of the biggest NBA betting events in Las Vegas in years.

The Cleveland Cavaliers visit the Golden State Warriors Thursday night to tip off the best-of-seven showdown that will crown the 2015 NBA Champion. Let’s check out the latest market prices…then review JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats from the regular season.


Series Price

Golden State -240

Cleveland +200

The Western Conference is much stronger than the Eastern Conference…and Golden State dominated that stronger conference. That’s why the Warriors are better than 2-to-1 favorites in the marketplace. It doesn’t hurt that Kyrie Irving’s injury issues haven’t been helped by the time off. Golden State has been priced like a super-team all through the postseason. That continues here.


Thursday’s Game One

Golden State -6

Over/Under of 202.5

Home court advantage has been worth about 3 points in the marketplace this season…with some adjustments on the fly when needed. This “settled” line suggests that Golden State is seen as about 3 points better on a neutral court. That would suggest something near pick-em at Cleveland. Though, perceptions from the first two games could push that a couple of points in either direction.


Offensive Efficiency

Cleveland: 107.7 per 100 possessions (ranked #4 in the NBA)

Golden State: 109.7 per 100 possessions (ranked #2 in the NBA)

Remember these are regular season rankings because we want a big sample size…and because we want to stay consistent with our NOTEBOOK previews throughout the postseason. Two great offenses that cause headaches for opponents. Cleveland has become too one-dimensional though because of the injuries to Kevin Love (out) and Kyrie Irving (still hobbled). The Cavs will be in trouble if Golden State can neutralize or at least slow down that dimension. Edge to the Warriors because of their varied scoring weaponry and health.


Defensive Efficiency

Cleveland: 104.1 per 100 possessions (ranked #20 in the NBA)

Golden State: 98.2 per 100 possessions (ranked #1 in the NBA)

Easily the most misunderstood thing by the mainstream media this year involves Golden State’s defense. The Warriors have a FANTASTIC defense. But, because they play high scoring games at a fast pace, a ridiculous number of “experts” think they don’t have a good defense. It’s mind-boggling, frankly, that so many former players in particular keep making this mistake. Note that Cleveland’s defense has improved in the playoffs. They do protect the rim…and they rebound. Though, they have run into some good fortune in terms of opponents just flat missing open looks. Golden State keeps the edge here when you adjust for playoff performance…but that spread from #1 to #20 in the regular season overstates the case.


Pace Ranking

Cleveland: #25

Golden State: #1

Cleveland is a very slow team because LeBron likes to hold the ball in his hands for 10 seconds before attacking the basket whenever there’s an important possession. Golden State has slowed down in the playoffs, using halfcourt sets to create open looks from long range or back door layups. It’s best that you think of this as a halfcourt series. You’ll see in a moment that the market has done a poor job with Golden State totals.


Against the Spread

Cleveland: 39-43 (8-6 in the playoffs, 6-8 to the Under)

Golden State: 47-34-1 (7-8 in the playoffs, 3-12 to the Under)

Important to note the reversal from the regular season. Cleveland was generally overpriced this year (though the market was slow to note their improvement after the trades). Golden State was a gold mine for a few months until the lines finally found an equilibrium. In the playoffs…Cleveland has been slightly underpriced while Golden State has been slightly overpriced. The best team isn’t quite as good as the market has been thinking (at least so far).

Also, note the totals! Golden State has skewed way Under because the market hasn’t figured out their new pace or respected their defense. Cleveland has been way Under on the road, but Over at home in general. Keep that in mind as you handicap each matchup.

JIM HURLEY is ready for this series to begin! We’ve posted this preview on Wednesday to give you do-it-yourselfers some extra handicapping time. The official Game One pick will be available for purchase Thursday. You can always get BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about extended service, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours. Be sure you check on combination packages that include Cavs/Warriors, Major League Baseball and this Saturday’s BELMONT STAKES!

(Don’t forget to build your bankroll with Wednesday night Baseball!)

Our next NBA preview will go up Saturday for Sunday’s second game of the series. We’ll review key stats from the series opener and outline possibilities for any reversals. Between now and then…more Baseball…

Thursday: MLB Series Preview St. Louis Cardinals at Los Angeles Dodgers

Friday: MLB Series Preview: Los Angeles Angels at New York Yankees

Saturday: NBA Early Look for Sunday’s Game Two of Cavaliers/Warriors

Monday: MLB Series Preview: Kansas City Royals at Minnesota Twins

Tuesday: NBA Game Three Championship Preview

LeBron James may be the greatest NBA player ever. Golden State is making a strong case for being one of the best single-season teams ever. The greatest sports handicapper of all time is JIM HURLEY! When championships are on the line…you need WORLD CHAMPION HANDICAPPER JIM HURLEY!


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Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley

Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters

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