Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, May 30, 2018 at 12:00 PM
Normally, in the hours leading up to a major sporting event like the NBA Finals matching the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers that begins Thursday night, JIM HURLEY'S HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK would provide a comprehensive stat preview.
This time around, there's not much point!
*Golden State has the much better offense, with a variety of weapons that can score inside or out. Cleveland has LeBron James, and a bunch of guys who blow hot and cold…mostly cold when the pressure is on. One guy has to carry the Cavs. Any of a few can carry the Warriors.
*Golden State has the much better defense, particularly in the areas of forcing turnovers and grabbing rebounds. We've talked about this often. Golden State is MUCH better defensively than the mainstream media gives them credit for because sportscasters and sportswriters don't know how to adjust for pace. Golden State gets a lot of stops in faster paced games, and allows fewer points per possession than Cleveland by quite a good bit. This is a mismatch in terms of defensive skill sets.
*Golden State would have the better rebounding team if it gets close and the Warriors HAVE to bring peak intensity. They don't always pull this card out of their deck. It's there if needed. Defense and rebounding wins championships! We've been typing that for you since this website went online many, many years ago. Still true. Golden State has the better defense, and will win rebounding if it needs to.
Cleveland has virtually no chance to win the series over a best-of-seven unless there are a couple of major injuries to the Warriors, and the Cavs role players stay hot from three-point land long enough to compile four wins. A Golden State sweep is more likely than a Cleveland series win according to betting markets.
So, should bettors even get involved with such a one-sided scenario? When the point spreads are going to be around -12 at Golden State at -6 at Cleveland? Here are some ideas…
*You'll probably have to focus on cover potential in "garbage time" for the games in California. Who's going to win the last 4-5 minutes of the game when Golden State is up double digits? If it's bench vs. bench, will the Warriors run away and hide from role players who mostly struggled vs. Cleveland? Will Cleveland keep LeBron on the floor even when way behind, giving the Cavs a chance to rally back and lose by 8-10? It would behoove you to study coaching and team tendencies from the regular season for both teams in this situation.
*You might want to think about Golden State's tendency to blow off a road game in every series. They lost one badly at San Antonio, and again at New Orleans. The Warriors would go long stretches in Houston looking inept, even though they ultimately won twice on that floor. Cleveland definitely has a chance to win one or both early home games as underdogs if the Warriors get complacent. This version of Golden State is prone to do that when they don't feel threatened.
*You can always change your focus from team sides to totals. Last week we talked about the extreme Under tendencies in the conference final rounds. That would hold up all the way through. The 14 games in the Western and Eastern Conference Finals ended 3-11 to the Under, with six of seven staying below the market estimate in Golden State/Houston, five of seven doing the same in Cleveland/Boston. Will Cleveland be able to slow down the series to give LeBron a chance to impose his will in the half court? Will Golden State make it a party series with a lot of fast break points but too casual of a defense when the game isn't close? The Game One opener of 218 is already down to 214. That gives you a hint of what the Wise Guys think. But, it wouldn't be a shock to see the series blow up to something were 220-225 is "normal" because of garbage time, or "blow down" to 205-ish because of Cleveland slowing things down to give themselves a shot.
JIM HURLEY knows how he's going to play Game One for his clients. And, he's ready to read and react to developments as the happen. Our exclusive TEAM HANDICAPPING approach featuring SOURCES, SCOUTS, STATHEADS, COMPUTER PROGRAMMERS, and WISE GUY CONNECTIONS gives us extra sets of eyes that will make sure NETWORK clients get BIG, JUICY WINNERS!
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Maybe the 2018 NBA Finals will be surprisingly exciting. Or, maybe we're about to watch four laughers. For bettors, it's all about finding value and making money. When championships are on the line, you need WORLD CHAMPION HANDICAPPER JIM HURLEY!