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On the cusp of history, we can finally stop all the nonsense.

It doesn’t matter that the Eastern Conference was the weakest it has ever been this past season. It’s also true the only time the Warriors were truly tested this postseason they were down and headed for a certain Game 1 home defeat against San Antonio before Kawhi Leonard was compromised.

What’s done is done. Cavs-Warriors III is here, arriving as the first-ever NBA Finals matchup played between teams vying for the title three consecutive times. Considering the Celtics and Lakers have run things in multiple decades and are unquestionably still the rivalry to end all rivalries, this is quite the accomplishment.

Enjoy it. Then be sure you profit off it. Hopefully this helps.

While people forget the past and attempt to elevate LeBron James over Michael Jordan, he is indeed playing his best basketball, impacting the game more than he did when he was younger and more athletic due to a better understanding of how to do things. Still, he’s 3-4 in the championship round and his team is an underdog for the sixth time in eight Finals experiences, which would be unheard of in the Jordan ERA.

Is that a product of the West being so much better than the East over the last decade-plus? Sure. It’s also because James can only do so much when his team is inferior, which is what the Cavs have faced as an underdog the past few years. Last year, he helped Cleveland overcome a deficit of 3-1, aided in part by Draymond Green’s Game 6 suspension that helped the Cavs extend the series.

That collapse allowed Kevin Durant to feel it was ok to jump ship to the Warriors, which makes this year’s task much tougher for LeBron and Co. The Warriors are a -240 series favorite, which is a 70 percent lean on the series. You get the rationale. Up 3-1 without Durant, a key variable since Harrison Barnes was a liability in the same spot in the lineup, the Dubs have to win this series.

While Kevin Love is within his rights to wonder aloud how in the world the defending champs are substantial underdogs defending their own title, there’s a method to the madness of bookmakers and experts that are viewing this series without bias. To that end, while admitting I love the Warriors in 6, there’s a fear that happenings from last season can carry over.

Odds are great that Mike Brown be coaching this final against the Cavs, who ran him off and decided he was expendable. Greenfield’s especially guilty for what transpired after he lost his temper and got himself excluded from a key Game 6. Durant has a score to settle, having been beaten by LeBron as a favorite with Oklahoma City on a team he led, which also featured Russell Westbrook and James Harden.

It’s precisely what brings poetic justice into play. There’s no one under more pressure than Durant, who has faced immense backlash for his decision to defect from the Thunder, even catching blame for the lack of competitiveness in this postseason, despite being a member of only one team.

It’s for that reason he is the favorite for finals MVP among Warriors, since he would be the “difference maker.” Trust me when I tell you as a former member of NBA media that voted on these things, they’ll rely on the narrative in making their final vote for who should be crowned Finals MVP.

Behind LeBron (39/20), Durant at 2/1 is the way to go, and I’d recommend hedging with Green (8/1) or Klay Thompson (25/1) to get the most bang for your buck. In the rubber match of this epic Finals three-year series, the better team will prevail.

Count on it.


About the Author

Tony Mejia

Tony Mejia has been a national sportswriter for nearly two decades and has covered NBA and college basketball as a columnist, analyst, handicapper, and bracketologist for CBS Sports, Pro Basketball News, and numerous other sites.

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