2018 NBA Finals… LeBron vs the Dubs Part IV

Dear Sports Fans,

Spare me your “Finals will be boring” takes. The best player of this generation is matched up against the most talented team of this generation in a best of seven bloodmatch. We have endless star power, complex and entertaining characters, and of course spreads and totals to play. This is not the culmination of a year’s long journey, we are at the end of a FOUR YEAR marathon to finally tally the score between LeBron and the Dubs. The King has virtually nothing to lose, this is his worst supporting cast to-date, 2 wins would be a worthy achievement and a series win would be akin to pulling off the impossible. Meanwhile, the Warriors have their own demons to overcome in order to cement their dynasty, even as the overwhelming favorites to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy. Chances are good the losing team will not be back for Round 5 (at least not in its current form), so this is it… this is the end.

Enjoy the show.

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No point in re-hashing the history, unless you’ve been in a coma you know we sit at 2–1. You remember Curry, Dray, Klay and Co. winning Round 1 against a battered Cavs team on the back of a spectacular defensive effort from Iggy. Round 2 was an unforgettable classic with LeBron and Kyrie overcoming a 1–3 deficit against the winningest team of all time. Adding Durant for the 3rd Round proved an impossible challenge for King James as the Dubs nearly pulled off the perfect postseason. Results for the previous 18 games in this series are summarized below.

 

Numerous angles to attack this years series betting market. The clear expectation and widespread belief from prognosticators is that the Dubs repeat the gentleman’s sweep. Cavs pick up a mercy game in the Q and Dubs close out at home to win 4–1 (surprisingly pays +173). If you are feeling extra bullish on the Dubs (maybe based on how weak the East was, maybe based on the poor Cavs defense throughout the season), then the true sweep is available for the tasty price of +220. If you’ve got outstanding liability on the Warriors to win the title, like myself, then it may make more sense to explore the Cavs series future options. As discussed below, there may be additional reasons to support the Cavs keeping this a competitive series beyond protecting Warriors futures investments.

 

 

From a pure match-up standpoint and looking at the advanced stats of these teams, this series is a mismatch in favor of the Dubs based on the Cavs inability to adequately defend the 3-pt line when there is ball-movement and their poor ability to get back in transition; these are two areas where Golden State is excellent offensively. For these reasons, Cavs backers will need external factors to support any hope that this series will be competitive. In no particular order, some potential external factors include:

· LeBron’s basketball IQ to this point is off the charts high, he has developed his offensive game in a way that specifically generates high percentage looks against a team like the Dubs who will always have one sub-par defender on the floor and are average at best when defending the rim, this suggests they can play at a slower pace (not unlike what we saw the Rockets employ) and still get key baskets, particularly late in games

· Draymond has become a true offensive liability and in the same way that the Cavs dared Marcus Smart (and later in the series Jaylen Brown) to shoot the 3, Green will get many opportunities to prove that he hasn’t forgotten how to shoot (even though all evidence this postseason suggests he has)

· Injuries on the Warriors are a concern at this point given their meak bench; Steph is clearly still coming back to 100%, Klay has taken multiple shots this post season and although not widely reported, something is clearly not right with KD (more on this is a second)

· Lack of focus has been an issue for the Dubs all season, they could very well snap out of it now that we’ve reached the Finals but there likely be lackadaisical quarters, halves and potentially full games that handicap this team

· Warriors chemistry is something I have a close eye on, all is not well between the major personalities in the Dubs locker room, Draymond’s hyseretics are wearing thin, Durant seems checked out to an extent (like he’s ready to find a new challenge), Curry will likely be pressing to re-write his Finals legacy and Klay looks a little stoned all the time so who knows, Steve Kerr is definitely concerned

· Hate pointing to the Refs but LeBron has put on a masterclass at getting a favorable whistle this season and it’s in the best interest of the League to have an extended series for millions, and millions of reasons.

Playing:

Cleveland Cavaliers series games won +2½ +172

Golden State Warriors win series 4–2 +500

LeBron James wins NBA Finals MVP +700

…to go along with enormous positions on the Warriors to win the title placed throughout the season.

Have fun and enjoy the series folks, it’s unlikely we’ll get another match-up with this rich a cast and this much history in our lifetimes. BOL