Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, June 19, 2016 at 10:51 AM
There's one chance left to make money betting basketball and it's with one of the most anticipated games the NBA has ever seen. Golden State looks to close its record-setting season with a championship on Sunday night. Cleveland looks to complete the greatest comeback in Finals history. Game 7 goes at 8 PM ET on ABC. The Warriors are installed as a (-5) favorite and (-200) on the moneyline. You can get the Cavs at (+170) to win straight up. The total is 206.5. Which way do you play it?
We have to protect the final decision on what to do for our clients, but here are some of the basic issues that every basketball bettor needs to be thinking about and evaluating...
IN FAVOR OF GOLDEN STATE
We can start with the simple fact the Warriors are at home. The home team has won Game 7 of the NBA Finals the last six times one has been played. You have to go back to 1978, when Washington won in Seattle to find a case of the road team winning a decisive game in the Finals. Furthermore, since Golden State lost Game 5 at home, you have to ask what the odds are of them losing two straight in front one of the most rabid crowds in the NBA.
If we dig a little further into the six games of this series, we find a few more reasons to like Golden State. While media focus has been on Steph Curry's presumed troubles, the back-to-back MVP is also averaging 24ppg and is shooting the ball well from the three-point line, at 43%. Where the struggles storyline comes from is Curry's mediocre 42 percent shooting overall. He's missed a lot of his little runners in the lane. If you want to bet on a Curry resurgence, you're only betting that he can start making those. That's an eminently reasonable bet.
One-game situations in most any sport are also notorious for producing X-factors, the player you didn't expect to come up big. The last time a Finals saw Game 7 it was Miami-San Antonio and it was the Heat's Shane Battier who hit six treys and forced a huge miss at the rim by Tim Duncan at the end. Battier wasn't as important as LeBron James, who dropped 37 that night, but he was necessary to win.
The very definition of an X-factor is something we don't expect, but we can also say that are certain characteristics of the players who do step up that stands out. Battier is a perfect example, a championship-tested veteran. In Golden State's case, they have a slew of players that could deliver a big night and make history. From Leandro Barbosa to Harrison Barnes to Anderson Varajeo. Let's recall that Golden State has already opened this series by winning a game based on contributions from unlikely sources. It can hardly be considered a shock if they close it the same way.
IN FAVOR OF CLEVELAND
How many times do you get a chance to bet on LeBron James in a one-game situation and either get points or a healthy (+170) price on the moneyline? James is already playing amazing basketball in these Finals, averaging 30 points/11 rebounds/9 assists and he's shooting 51 percent from the floor.
Because James' attacks the basket his scoring is more predictable than that of Curry or Klay Thompson, which is subject to the inconsistencies that come with the outside shot. This carries over to the entire team - Cleveland has shot better than Golden State from the floor, 46 percent to 43 percent, in large part because the Cavs are shooting from closer to the basket.
Cleveland doesn't have as many X-factors as Golden State does, but Tristan Thompson is a pretty big one. He's averaging 10 points/11 rebounds a game and the way this kid gets after the boards, no one can be shocked if he goes for 20 in a big game. He got nine rebounds in a single quarter in Game 6 and runs the floor aggressively to finish the break.
So what way do you play it? Do you bet on the great player or the great home team? Betting on either one has a strong history of success in the NBA playoffs and on Sunday night they conflict. It's our last chance to get basketball money until October and it's all hands on deck for handicappers in the final hours leading up to tip off.
Jim Hurley Wins the biggest games, and none are bigger than Game 7 for the Championship! Click here for the side & total winners.