Cavs rely too heavily on LeBron James
But Warriors are looking tough
The NBA playoffs start on Saturday night with the Golden State-Cleveland double chance a 1-4 shot – but is a threepeat really that inevitable?
Few doubt that the Warriors will make it through the west for a third year in a row – a 67-15 regular season record showed that all the component parts are in top working order – but can the same be said of the Cavs?
That they didn’t qualify as top seed in the east shouldn’t in itself be an issue – the same happened in 2015 and they went all the way.
But there’s a different feel about Cleveland at the moment. They have been treading water since the All-Star game and their reliance on LeBron James is now becoming serious.
The playoffs took a lot out of James 12 months ago and now, aged 32, can he carry this team once more through another gruelling campaign?
The answer is, of course he can, and while there is very little in their form to suggest they can’t be taken on, this period of the season is when Cleveland come to life. Plus there are question marks galore over all their rivals.
With that in mind, expect surprise first-round exits in the east, as usual. Ultra-consistent Toronto, for example, are expected to see off Milwaukee, who everyone says are the future. But maybe the future is now.
If the ‘Greek Freak’, Giannis Antetokounmpo – top 20 in the league in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks – is allowed to play, the Bucks could well stun the Raptors.
More likely is fifth-ranked Atlanta beating fourth seed Washington over seven games.
Milwaukee to win series v Toronto
1pt 3-1 Betway
Atlanta to win series v Washington
1pt 9-5 bet365, Ladbrokes