Game 1 of the 2017 NBA Finals series between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers starts tomorrow. And if you’re planning on betting the Finals, you can do so right here at GTBets.eu. But before you place a wager, you should check out the following 6 x-factors that will shape this series.
X-factor #1: Historic Cavs Offense vs. Stifling Warriors Defense
Golden State led the NBA in offense this past season, averaging 113.2 points per 100 possessions. Their offense has gotten even better in the postseason, with a 115.8 offensive efficiency rating through 12 playoff games.
No other postseason team is even within 5 points of the Warriors….expect for Cleveland. In fact, the Cavaliers are almost five points better than the Warriors.
They’re averaging a historic 120.7 points per 100 possessions, which is nearly 10 better than their regular season average (110.9).
They haven’t scored less than 106 points in all 13 postseason games; they’ve scored 115+ in eight contests; and they dropped 130 and 135 in two games against the normally strong Boston Celtics’ defense.
It’ll be interesting to see how this blazing offense holds up against the Warriors’ defense. Golden State stifled Portland, Utah, and San Antonio’s offense. Their defensive rating is 99.1 per 100 possessions – better than their regular season rating of 101.1, which was second-best.
X-factor #2: Warriors Strong Offense vs. Cavs Mediocre Defense
Golden State has a really good offense, and Cleveland doesn’t have a great defense. In fact, the Cavs were bad at stopping teams during the regular season, giving up 108.0 points per 100 possessions (22nd in league).
They’ve trimmed this down to 104.6 points per 100 possessions. And this isn’t bad, considering that they faced the Pacers (15th best offense), Raptors (6th), and Celtics (8th).
But as mentioned before, Golden State brings an entirely new challenge because they have the second-best offense in the postseason.
X-factor #3: LeBron James is Playing Better than Ever
King James is averaging 32.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 7.0 assists. He’s also shooting 56.6% from the floor, and 42.1% from three-point range – both playoff career bests.
Other than Michael Jordan in 1997, LeBron is the only other player to post a 30-7-7 average and shoot over 50% in the playoffs. But the difference between these two legends is that LeBron has done it twice (2009 season).
His play has opened things up for Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, and the rest of the team to do the following:
- Irving is averaging 24.5 PPG.
- Love has made 38 of his 80 three-pointers in the playoffs (47.5%).
- JR Smith has connected on 22 of 49 three’s (44.9%).
- Channing Frye has knocked down 20 of 38 three-pointers (52.6%).
- Kyle Korver has made 22 of 53 three’s (41.5%).
X-factor #4: Will Golden State Force Cleveland to Shorten their Rotation
And we expect this to apply to the Cavs when they face Golden State.
Cleveland features a particularly deep playoff rotation that includes the following:
- LeBron James – 40.9 minutes
- Kyrie Irving – 34.8 minutes
- Tristan Thompson – 33.0 minutes
- Kevin Love – 32.1 minutes
- J.R. Smith – 26.2 minutes
- Kyle Korver – 17.7 minutes
- Iman Shumpert – 17.4 minutes
- Deron Williams – 15.5 minutes
- Channing Frye – 13.0 minutes
- Richard Jefferson – 10.6 minutes
Some of this is related to all the garbage time that Cleveland has played. And you can really trim this to nine players because Jefferson and Frye have alternated minutes in each series, depending upon the situation.
But the Warriors’ talented offense is great at exposing opponents’ weaknesses. Case in point, they went at Korver every time he was in the game during a January matchup at Oracle. If he wasn’t chasing Klay Thompson around on screens, he was trying to guard Andre Igouala on drives. The end result was Korver having a minus-12 rating.
Frye is also a defensive liability. And his ability to punish big men who don’t play good perimeter defense won’t be effective against the Warriors’ small lineup. That said, we could see Cleveland’s rotation shortened to Shumpert and Williams off the bench, with some Jefferson sprinkled in.
X-factor #5: Will Tristan Thompson Kill Golden State on the Boards?
During Cleveland’s Christmas Day win over Golden State, he grabbed six of the Cavs’ 18 offensive rebounds. During a January loss, he only collected two of the Cavs’ seven offensive rebounds.
Thompson’s rebounding will be key when Golden State goes small. And if he can get Cleveland extra shots – like the 18 extra attempts they had against the Warriors on Christmas – then this could tilt the series their way.
Here’s an example, where you can see Thompson bowling past Durant from a rebound and dunk:
X-factor #6: Can Andre Iguodala Stop LeBron James?
This Finals series is filled with interesting matchups, including Klay Thompson guarding Irving; Love guarding Draymond Green; James and Kevin Durant going at each other; and Shumpert sticking with Steph Curry.
Last year, Igoudala was slowed by a bad back. This season, he’s dealing with a sore knee. If his knee issue keeps him from being 100%, then LeBron gets a break when Durant or Green aren’t guarding him. But if Igoudala can play strong defense, it means that James never gets an easy defender.
Cavs Warriors Game 1 Odds
Our GTBets.eu lines for Game 1 are as follows:
- Money line: Golden State -320; Cleveland +260
- Point spread: Golden State -7: Cleveland +7
- Totals: over/under 226 (-110)