Big rivalry should make NBA finals-opener a tight clash
Golden State can expose Cavs defence to win in six games
Game One - Cleveland at Golden State
BT Sport 1, 2am Friday
The Warriors crushed Cleveland when the Cavs visited California in the regular season but such a lop-sided contest shouldn’t be on the cards when the two best teams in the NBA clash in Game One of the finals.
Golden State thrashed Cleveland 126-91 at the Oracle Arena in January, just one more victory in another magnificent campaign for the Western Conference powers.
Steve Kerr’s men would go on to boast a 67-15 regular-season record before sweeping Portland, then Utah and finally San Antonio to book their place in the finals.
A few days later Cleveland completed a 4-1 defeat of Boston to set up a third successive final between these two all-star outfits.
Golden State won it in 2015, Cleveland got their revenge against the odds last year, and it’s 2-5 that the Warriors, who boast homecourt advantage, win this time.
That ought to be too short given Cleveland are as likely to catch fire as Golden State – it’s just that the Warriors have far more explosive tools at their disposal.
That lone Boston triumph in Ohio hinted at some defensive frailties in the Cleveland make-up so Golden State to win in six games looks the bet.
As for Game One, an obvious bet is under 222.5 points at 5-4 with Betway. Both teams have had plenty of time off since their last game – Golden State have been idle for 11 days.
They may need a game to get going and throw in the mutual respect and the need for collective defensive efforts, and a free-flowing points feast is hard to fancy.
Look back at Game One of the last two finals for more confirmation. In 2015 the opener finished 108-100 to Golden State including 44 points from LeBron James and overtime.
Fast forward a year and Game One produced even fewer points – just 193. The Warriors won it 104-89 with Stephen Curry limited to just 11.
In fact, none of the 13 finals matches played between these sides in the last two years has yielded more than 216 points. Both regular-season match-ups in 2016-17 also produced exactly 217 points.
Under 222.5 points in Game One
2pts 5-4 Betway
Golden State to win finals 4-2
1pt 5-1 Hills