Cleveland Cavaliers 63-32 (44-47 ATS) at Golden State Warriors 79-15 (48-43 ATS)
When and Where: Thursday, June 1, ORACLE Arena, Oakland, Calif. 9:00pm EDT (ABC)
Spread: Golden State -7; Total: 225.5
For the third consecutive year, Golden State and Cleveland will match up in the National Basketball Association Finals. The Best-of-seven series will tip off on Thursday night in Oakland. The first time around, the Warriors closed out the Cavaliers in six games. They followed that up with winning an NBA regular season record 73 games, but could not close the show as they blew a 3-1 series lead a year ago and ultimately fell to Cleveland 4-3 to give the Cavs their first-ever title. Those were the only two meetings in the postseason between the two franchises, meaning Golden State has all-time lead in the playoffs, 7-6. They also lead the all-time series overall 64-58. The squads split regular season series with each team winning on their own home floor.
It almost seems like Cleveland took the year off. The defending NBA Champions did not even finish at the top-seed in their conference. That fell to the Boston Celtics, who the Cavaliers systematically dismantled in the Eastern Conference Finals. To make matters worse for Boston, they lost their best player, Isaiah Thomas, midway through game 2, which made the series a forgone conclusion. Despite that, and Cleveland having already taken two games on the Celtics’ home floor, Boston still managed to rally from 21 down and steal a game on the Cav’s home court in Game 3. It was no matter of course, as Cleveland cruised to two more victories to close out the series.
During the series with Boston, Cleveland set an NBA record for the largest ever playoff lead, by being up by 41 points at the break in Game 2, a contest they would go on to win by 50 points. They closed out the series with a 13-point win at home, followed by a 33-point victory on the road. If nothing else, they have shown that they are not afraid of intimidating atmosphere, and can even excel in one. They will have to do just that if they have any hope in Game 1 of the Finals.
What can you really say about Golden State? Two years ago they won the NBA Championship, taking down this very same Cleveland squad in six games. A year ago they set the regular season record with 73 wins, surpassing Michael Jordan’s Bulls. They made it all the way to the finals, where they took a 3-1 lead, before succumbing to Lebron James and company. This year, they have done their part to make sure that two teams would be colliding in the finals with perfect records. Unfortunately, the Cavaliers did not do theirs and dropped a game to Boston.
Regardless, this year’s Golden State squad is a completely different beast. No, they did not set a record for regular season wins, but many already considered them the best team in the NBA, and that was before they signed former MVP Kevin Durant. Durant has meshed with the team better than expected. Yes, there was a stretch where he was out with an injury late in the season and the team won 14 straight games without him, but since the playoffs have began, he has looked like the best player on the team, and it has certainly not looked like the squad has skipped a step. Of course, the Finals are a different story, but with this all-star cast playing front-and-center in front of their home-crowd, you can probably expect for Durant and the other big-time players to show up.
Golden State is:
This one looks like a tough call with the Warriors giving seven points to a team they lost two straight games to at home to close out last year’s finals, but that squad did not have Durant. Golden State has had more rest than Cleveland, which may lead them to coming out a bit rusty, but look what happened the last time that occurred. They fell behind by a large sum to San Antonio in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals and still came back to win. It is not like Cleveland has been active themselves. Both teams are coming off of rest and at the end of the day you should look for the Warriors to pull away in the second half in this one.
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Last Updated: June 1, 2017
Chuck Dowling is a 30-something University of Florida J-School alum that lives in his mother’s basement. Just kidding... there are no basements in Florida (the ground is too moist). He has been in the “biz” for his entire adult life and specializes in NCAA football and basketball, as well as soccer, boxing, and MMA. When not writing, Chuck moonlights as a high school athletics radio and internet-television broadcaster.