The NBA Finals will conclude this week and may have already ended by the time you are reading this if Golden State defeated Cleveland at home on Monday night in Game 5.
If the Cavaliers stayed alive by pulling off the upset the series would return to Cleveland for Game 6 on Thursday. And if the Cavs were capable of doing to Golden State what the Warriors did to Oklahoma City in the Western Conference Finals the ultimate Game 7 would be played next Sunday in Oakland.
This last reference is to the Warriors trailing the Thunder 3 games to 1 in the Western Finals before winning Games 5 and 6 to force a Game 7 that, of course, Golden State won to reach these Finals.
Golden State was a solid home favorite to have won on Monday night and end the season with a second straight NBA title. But there was a significant line move just over 24 hours prior to Monday’s tipoff when it was announced the Warriors’ Draymond Green was suspended for Monday night’s game, a suspension that resulted from Green’s actions against Cleveland’s LeBron James late in the fourth quarter of Game 4.
Initially the officials called a double foul on Green and James but an after-the-fact review – which has annoyingly, and perhaps unfairly, become all too common – resulted in Green being assessed a “Flagrant 1” foul, which calls for an automatic suspension based on Green’s accumulation of “flagrant points” earlier in the Playoffs.
The impact on the betting line was to see Cleveland money steadily pour in. Immediately after Game 4 ended Friday night most books opened Golden State as an 8 point home favorite. By Saturday evening the Warriors had been bet down to -7 as speculation intensified that Green would be suspended for Game 5. When that speculation was made fact midday on Sunday the line dropped further to Golden State -5.5, which is where the line resided as of mid-afternoon Monday.
No team has ever overcome a 3-1 deficit to win the NBA Finals although the feat has been accomplished in earlier Playoff rounds, the most recent being Golden State in getting by Oklahoma City just a couple of weeks ago.
Should the Cavs have pulled the upset on Monday night the Warriors would be the play to wrap up the series in Game 6 in Cleveland on Thursday.
And in the unlikely event Cleveland wins both Games 5 and 6 to force a Game 7 next Sunday the Warriors would again be the side but might be better played in the first half rather than for the full game.
Although the series handicapped as an OVER series the first four games have favored the UNDER 3-1. The first two games at Golden State stayed UNDER by 18 and 22.5 points. The two games in Cleveland were much more in line with the closing totals, going OVER by 4 points and staying UNDER by 2.
The big questions coming out of the NBA Finals will be what moves Cleveland will make in the offseason with the status of Kevin Love a major topic of discussion. As long as James stays with Cleveland the Cavs will be the favorites in the East next season.
Golden State’s bench has excelled throughout the first four games and its depth figures to rate as preseason favorites in the very deep Western Conference next season.
It promises to be a most interesting summer with this season’s version of “The Decision” involving where OKC star Kevin Durant will be playing next season.
Andy Iskoe, and his Logical Approach, provides his popular and unique handicapping statistics to GamingToday readers and online visitors. He has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Email: [email protected]