When the Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers and Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors tip off in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals on Thursday night from Oakland, history will be made.
Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
It’s their fourth straight NBA Finals meeting, and it’s the first time not just in the NBA that the same two teams have met in four consecutive Finals/championship games but also in any of the four major American professional sports leagues (MLB, NHL, and NFL).
The Warriors should be going for a fourth title in a row and probably would be if Draymond Green hadn’t been suspended for Game 5 of the 2016 Finals. That suspension was the impetus for Cleveland’s stunning rally from a 3-1 series deficit and the city’s first-ever NBA title.
Golden State has won the other two series against Cleveland in six (2015) and five games (2017) and is a massive series favorite overall as well as -12 for Game 1. That is tied for the largest spread in an NBA Finals game since 1991. In the opener of the 2001 Finals, Allen Iverson’s Philadelphia 76ers were +12 at the Los Angeles Lakers and Iverson led a Game 1 stunner before Los Angeles won the next four games.
Barring something unforeseen, the Warriors will be favored in every game. Cleveland hasn’t been this big of an underdog in a game since March 18, 2017, when it was +14 at the Los Angeles Clippers. Not sure if you heard, but LeBron James is rather important to the Cavaliers. They sat him, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving (now with the Celtics) in that Clippers game and Cleveland lost by 30.
Golden State is 27-3 straight-up in its past 30 games as at least a 12-point favorite (any location, regular season or playoffs) but 14-16 against the spread. The Warriors last were in Game 6 of the just-completed Western Conference Finals against Houston, which was without injured Chris Paul and +12.5. The Warriors won 115-86.
The Warriors swept the regular-season series with the Cavaliers, winning by seven at home on Christmas and by 10 in Cleveland on January 15. It’s not year clear if two injured key players will go in the Finals opener. Golden State’s Andre Iguodala has missed the past four with a knee injury, and Cleveland’s Kevin Love missed Game 7 of the East Finals in Boston with concussion-like symptoms.
If Love plays Thursday and Iguodala doesn’t, that 12-point number might move down slightly but it also depends on the betting action.