2015 NBA Finals Betting: Key Matchups for Cavs vs Warriors

cleveland-vs-golden-state-bettingThe 2015 NBA Finals matchup between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers is set to commence on June 4th (Thursday) at 9:00pm ET. Most online sportsbooks, including us at GTBets.eu, are heavily favoring the Warriors on the Game 1 betting line; we have Golden State at -6. However, when you have LeBron James on your side like the Cavs do, anything can happen. But this series is about more than just LeBron vs. the Warriors, so let’s discuss some of the key matchups that we’ll see.

1. Stephen Curry vs. Kyrie Irving

This should decidedly be in Golden State’s favor, given that Curry is the reigning league MVP and Irving hasn’t been healthy since the first round of the playoffs. And Irving says that “it would be a miracle” if he were 100% for Game 1. It will be interesting to see how much Irving can slow down Curry since the latter is shooting a blistering 43.7% from beyond the arc in the playoffs. Expect plenty of Matthew Dellavedova for the Cavs here too, because he’s a pesky defender who can pressure Curry.

Advantage: Warriors

NBA: Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors2. Klay Thompson vs. Iman Shumpert

Here’s a classic offense vs. defense matchup, with Thompson being the offense and Shumpert being the defense. Thompson was off his 3-point game in the Houston series. But overall, he’s still hitting 42.5% from the 3-point line in the 2015 postseason. Shumpert has actually shot pretty well in the playoffs too (36.8% from 3-point), but his tough defense is what will test an elite shooter like Thompson.

Advantage: Warriors

3. Tristan Thompson vs. Draymond Green

Let this season be the year that both Thompson and Green emerged as big-time players. As for Thompson, nobody has been able to keep him off the offensive glass ever since Kevin Love went down with a shoulder injury. Given that Thompson even dominated the Bulls’ big front line on the boards, don’t expect the Warriors to slow him down. As for Green, he’s one of the league’s best defensive players and he’s also a very good rebounder (10.8 in postseason). He’ll be trying to slow down both Thompson and LeBron at different points of this series.

Advantage: Cavs

4. Timofey Mozgov vs. Andrew Bogut

There couldn’t be a more even matchup in the Cavs vs. Warriors series, considering that Bogut and Mozgov do many of the same things. Both are strong defenders who can protect the rim, so I expect a stalemate here. However, if one of these two is able to play bigger than the other, it could swing the series dramatically in favor of their respective team.

Advantage: Draw

5. Warriors Bench vs. Cavs Bench

Based on talent alone, this matchup easily goes towards the Golden State reserves. Andre Iguodala, Festus Ezeli, Leandro Barbosa and Shaun Livingston could all start on (certain) other teams in the league, yet they are coming off the Warriors’ bench to fill various roles. But that’s not to say Cleveland’s bench is chopped liver, because they feature Dellavedova, James Jones and J.R. Smith. The problem is just that they don’t have much size in the normal bench rotation.

Advantage: Warriors

cavs-vs-warriorsSuperstar Factor

On paper, the Warriors have more advantages; but as mentioned before, you can’t immediately discount a LeBron James-led team. Many consider him the best player in the world – despite Curry winning the MVP – and he’ll get a chance to prove he’s still on top in this series. The Warriors are no doubt the ultimate NBA Finals test, so can the Cavs hang?

Advantage: Cavaliers

Cavs vs Warriors NBA Finals Betting: 5 Things to expect

cleveland-vs-golden-state-betting-1The 2015 NBA Finals betting line is now set, with the Golden State Warriors taking on the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Warriors dusted off a pesky Rockets team in five games, while Cleveland obliterated the Atlanta Hawks with a four-game sweep. So which of these dominant teams has the advantage? We’ll discuss this, but first, here’s a look at the Cavs vs Warriors Game 1 betting line:

GTBets.eu Betting Line:
Golden State -5.5 (-110)       Over 202.5 (-110)
Cleveland (-110)                   Under 202.5 (-110)
Game Time:
 June 4th at 9:00pm ET

This series is often looked at as LeBron and Co. versus the Warriors deep and talented team, led by Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Thanks to Golden State’s balance, they finished the regular season at 67-15 – one of the NBA’s best records ever – then blitzed through the brutal Western Conference playoffs with a 12-3 record.

Cleveland was pretty impressive after some mid-season trades, and they went 12-2 on the weaker Eastern Conference side of the bracket. Plus, they have key injuries with Kevin Love out for the postseason and Kyrie Irving playing at less than 100%. So does this mean that they’ll get blown out of the water by the Warriors?

1. LeBron is the Real MVP

Curry has had an amazing season, and he’s somehow played even better in the playoffs. If you give this guy an inch of daylight, he’s going to burn you with the three again and again. However, not even Curry has the all-around game that James still has at age 30. Some didn’t have LeBron making it past the Bulls, and many believed the Hawks would take Cleveland to six or seven games. But even with a hobbled Irving, no Love and a cast of role players, James has carried his teammates to victory.

2. Golden State can beat Cleveland in a Variety of Ways

cleveland-vs-golden-state-bettingWhile Curry might be the undeniable leader of this team, followed by his ‘Splash Brother’ Thompson, this is more than just two great shooters. There’s Andrew Bogut, Harrison Barns and Draymond Green in the front court, along with Andre Iguodala, Leandro Barbosa, David Lee and Shaun Livingston coming off the bench. Cleveland just can’t match what the Warriors have all over the court.

3. The Cavs Defense has been Incredible

Before making mid-season trades that brought in J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Timofey Mozgov, Cleveland was in the bottom half of the league in defense. However, their D has improved tremendously thanks to Shumpert’s perimeter defense and Mozgov’s rim protection. So if there’s a team that can slow down the Warriors, it is definitely the Cavs. But Golden State’s defense is worth noting too because they have wings like Green and Iguodala that can at least force LeBron to take bad shots sometimes.

4. Tristan Thompson should continue feasting on the Boards

tristan-thompsonA huge reason for Cleveland’s playoff success – in Love’s absence – has been the rebounding of Thompson. Although he’s always been a strong rebounder, the undersized PF/C is playing like Wilt Chamberlain on the offensive glass. Golden State is going to be much tougher to grab offensive rebounds against than Atlanta. However, Thompson still had lots of success against the Bulls’ giant line, so don’t expect the Warriors to stop him either.

5. Iguodala could be Warriors’ X-Factor

If there’s one player that could make or break this for Golden State, it will be Iguodala. A former star in Philly, he now comes off the bench for the Warriors and provides energy, hustle and outstanding defense. More than this, he’ll likely be left open when out on the court with Thompson and Curry. So if he can hit the three (31.9% in this postseason), it could be Golden State’s special ingredient.

Final Analysis of Cleveland vs Golden State

Almost everybody expects the Warriors to win because, well, they’ve been the best all season. More than this, LeBron’s cast isn’t quite as talented as Golden State’s team. However, the one thing that Cleveland does have is amazing chemistry, which is surprising when you consider that this team was put together on the run this season. So expect LeBron, great defense and veteran leadership to power Cleveland to its first major sports title ever.

Series Prediction: Cleveland wins 4 games to 2

Golden State vs Memphis Game 6 Betting: Warriors favored on Road

golden-state-memphis-game-6The Golden State Warriors finished with one of the best regular-season records of all time (67-15), and now they are trying to prove that they’re one of the best teams ever period. However, their second-round opponent, the Memphis Grizzlies, are making this a mighty challenge. The Grizzlies actually had control of the series at 2-1, but they now find themselves having lost two straight and on the brink of elimination. There’s plenty at stake as we head into tonight’s contest, which we’ll discuss in a moment, but first, here’s the Game 6 betting line:

Game Time: Friday (May 15th) at 10:30pm ET on ESPN
GTBets.eu Betting Line:
Golden State -5 (-110)       Over 193.5 (-110)
Memphis (-110)                 Under 193.5 (-110)

The fact that the Warriors are favored with a -5 line on the road shows just how much we respect them. Then again, Memphis is a very tough defensive team, and they’re definitely not afraid of the challenge that Golden State presents. But do they have enough left in the tank to beat the Warriors and force a Game 7? Let’s discuss the matter below by looking at some critical points for Game 6 betting.

Golden State’s Bench proved the Difference Maker

It’s easy to look at the combined 9-for-19 three-point shooting by Klay Thompson and Steph Curry as a big factor on why this team won Game 5 by a dominating score of 98-78. After all, Thompson and Curry have been crushing souls with their outside shooting all season. But what went unnoticed by some is how effective the Warriors bench was. Led by Andre Iguodala (16 pts on 7-of-10 shooting), the reserves combined to shoot 15-for-25 from the field. With as tough as Golden State’s starters are, you can’t expect to win when their bench does this to you.

Tony Allen is needed on the Court

However offensively limited he may be (exposed in Game 4), Tony Allen is a very important player to this Golden State team. Sitting out of Game 5 due to a hamstring injury, Allen watched helplessly as the Grizzlies were exploited by Golden State’s guards again and again. Given how well everybody played on the Warriors, they probably would have won anyways. However, with Game 6 being in Memphis, they need Allen on the court as much as possible, making Golden State as uncomfortable as possible.

marc-gasolMarc Gasol needs a Comeback Game

When he gets going, Marc Gasol is probably the one Grizzlies player that Golden State can’t stop. However, he stopped himself last game while only shooting 8-for-22 from the field en route to 18 points. If Gasol could have made three or four more of these shots, putting him around 50%, then his team may have at least had a chance. Assuming there’s any possibility for Memphis to win tonight, they need a combination of a hot Gasol and Allen playing regular minutes.

Golden State may be Too Good No Matter what

There’s a reason why the Warriors won 67 games in the regular season – they’re an excellent team! And while Memphis tripped them up in the beginning, this young Warriors squad smells blood in the water and will likely finish off the series tonight. Expect plenty more three’s from Curry and Thompson, along with more quality bench production from Golden State’s reserves.

Final Score Prediction: Golden State 103 – Memphis 91

Golden State Warriors Betting: Was Klay Thompson’s Max Contract a Good Idea?

klay-thompson-max-contractOn the surface, it appears that Klay Thompson is worth every penny of the 4-year, $70 million max contract that he just signed with the Golden State Warriors. After all, the 6’7″ shooting guard is just 24, he’s leading the league with 29.7 PPG, and he’s nailing almost 54% of his shots from the field. So if there’s somebody who deserves a max contract it’s this guy, right?

Purely in terms of scoring and shooting the basketball, yes, Thompson’s contract is totally justified. But from a winning perspective, this move has to be questioned by anybody who looks closely at the matter.

First off, consider that noted champions like Kobe Bryant and Dwayne Wade had already won NBA Championships by the time that they signed a major contract. Sure many free agents also get max deals without truly proving they’re winners. However, the teams that sign/re-sign them out of desperation are often relegated to mediocrity for years in the aftermath.

Now consider Thompson, who’s being paid like the centerpiece of a championship caliber team that includes Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala. So far in Thompson’s young career, the team has missed the playoffs once (2012), lost to the Spurs in the conference semifinals (2013), and lost to the LA Clippers in the first round. And while they won 51 games last year, legacies are made through the playoffs, where Golden State had a regression.

Thompson’s playoff legacy right now is of a guy whose game fades when the competition level is increased. For evidence of this, look at how his numbers dipped against the Clippers:

2013-14 Regular Season – 44% shooting, 41.7% three-point, 18.4 PPG
2014 Playoffs (7 Games) – 40.8% shooting, 36.4% three-point, 16.4 PPG

klay-thompson-max-contract-1Assuming the Warriors make the playoffs again this season, one could argue that Thompson’s scoring and shooting will pick up. But the flipside is that there’s no guarantee his game will rise to the level of NBA postseason competition.

What’s more is that Thompson doesn’t turn in big numbers on the defensive end either. Last season he averaged 0.9 SPG and 0.5 BPG through 81 contests. These aren’t exactly stats that would impress Bryant, Wade, Michael Jordan, Jerry West or any other championship shooting guard who cared just as much on the other end of the floor.

Let’s face it…the Warriors overpaid for a one-dimensional shooter who’s won one playoff series in his career. Granted he’s a great shooter who will get better over the years. Furthermore, somebody was going to pay this guy the big bucks – definitely Minnesota if they could landed him through the failed Kevin Love trade.

But now Thompson becomes one more huge contract on a team that has too many of them. And while he may provide much more than the oft-injured Andrew Bogut and his $13 million contract, we don’t see Thompson becoming the type of max-contract player who carries his club deep into the playoffs.

What Impact will the Andre Iguodala Trade have on the Warriors?

andre-iguodalaFormer Denver Nuggets small forward Andre Iguodala was already set to sign a 4-year, $48 million deal with the Golden State Warriors through free agency. However, he went to his new club via a three-team trade instead. This deal, which also involves the Utah Jazz and Nuggets, allows all three teams more roster and salary cap flexibility. Here’s a look at what all three parties got in the deal:

Golden State Warriors – Receive Andre Iguodala from Denver and guard Kevin Murphy from Golden State.

Denver Nuggets – Get guard Randy Foye from the Jazz along with a $9 million trade exception (for Iguodala) which they can use any time next year.

Utah Jazz – Receive Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins and Brandon Rush, and their $24 million in expiring contracts from the Warriors. Utah also gets Golden State’s 2014 and 2017 first round picks as well as 2016 and 2017 second round picks. Additionally, Denver sent the Jazz a 2018 second round pick.

Moving past the salary cap implications and trade exceptions of this deal, Iguodala is definitely the big news here. In his lone season with Denver, the 6’6″ guard/forward helped his team return to relevancy as they went 57-25 during the regular season – a 19-game improvement from the previous year.

The Nuggets rode into the playoffs on a high note, having grabbed the third seed in the Western Conference. However, they were bounced out of the first round by the sixth seed, Golden State. This certainly wasn’t Igoudala’s fault as he averaged 18.0 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 5.3 APG and shot 48.3% from the three-point line.

andre-iguodala-1During the regular season, he put up numbers of 13.0 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 5.4 APG and 1.7 SPG. Statistically, Iguodala has had better seasons during his career. But the numbers don’t tell the whole story here because the Arizona product’s impact on the Nuggets was huge.

Aside from helping Denver boost their win total, Iguodala was a true lockdown defender with the ability to shut down point guards, shooting guards and small forwards. Some even argue that Iguodala is the best wing defender in the league – LeBron James included.

The 29-year-old is also one of the NBA’s best passers from the wing, as evidenced by the 5.4 APG he averaged for Denver last year. With his excellent ballhandling skills, it was basically like the Nuggets had two point guards on the floor in Iguodala and Ty Lawson.

Now he’s bringing these same attributes to a young Golden State team that’s already on their way up. Iguodala should fit in very nicely with star point guard Stephen Curry, shooting guard Klay Thompson, power forward David Lee, wingman Harrison Barnes and center Andrew Bogut. Assuming Bogut and Lee can stay healthy in 2014, the Warriors have a truly complete starting five, with Barnes and Carl Landry providing some nice minutes off the bench.

andre-iguodala-2Curry and Iguodala’s chemistry should be excellent right away. The two became great friends during Team USA’s run to the 2010 FIBA title. And Curry was a huge reason why Andre turned down an extra $4 million from Sacramento to play for Golden State.

A couple of notable spots where Iguodala figures to have an immediate impact include passing and stealing the ball. Aside from Curry (6.9 APG) and the departed Jarrett Jack (5.6 APG), the Warriors had no true passing threats. Now they add a non-point guard who can dish out assists just as good as Jack did.

So where will the addition of Iguodala put Golden State in the Western Conference race next season? It’s hard to say because the West is so muddled, but our guess is that you can expect the Warriors to at least grab one of the top four playoff seeds – maybe even better. Of course, with the Thunder, Spurs, Clippers and Grizzlies all coming back with strong squads, this won’t be easy.

NBA Power Rankings for March 14th, 2013

dwayne-wadeAt the beginning of February, the top of the NBA looked pretty competitive with several different teams seeming like they could be the league’s best. However, the Miami Heat have easily proven themselves to be number one since then after going on a 20-game winning streak.

This 20-game run is tied for the third best all-time behind the 2007-’08 Houston Rockets (22 games) and the 1971-’72 L.A. Lakers. The latter is arguably the greatest NBA team of all-time, while the ’08 Rockets were ousted in the first round of the NBA playoffs. We suspect that this year’s Miami Heat are more in line with the ’72 Lakers team, which featured Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Pat Riley and Gail Goodrich.

1. Miami Heat (49-14) – A few weeks ago, there was more of a debate between whether the San Antonio Spurs or Heat were the NBA’s beat team. However, as we discussed before, there’s definitely no debate now since the Heat are not only on a historical win streak, but they’ve wrestled the league’s top record away from the Spurs. Interestingly enough, LeBron James’ scoring (26.1 PPG) has dipped to 24.1 PPG over the last 10 contests while Dwayne Wade (21.8 PPG) has poured in 25.0 PPG during the same stretch.

kawhi-leonard2. San Antonio Spurs (49-16) – The Spurs aren’t on the same torrid streak they were on in January. In fact, they’ve been pretty mediocre after going 5-4 lately and losing their last game to the Minnesota Timberwolves. However, San Antonio also beat Oklahoma City by 12 during this stretch and remain in the second spot in our power rankings. Kawhi Leonard continues to make himself a bigger part of this team after scoring 14.5 PPG over the last 10 games. He’s also leading the club with 1.8 SPG and averaging 5.4 RPG.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder (48-17) – Oklahoma City has done pretty well in March after going 6-2 this month. Road losses to Denver and San Antonio are the only blemishes during a stretch that also includes victories over the Clippers, Lakers, Knicks, Celtics and Jazz. Russell Westbrook seems to be asserting his role in the offense a little more lately after raising his season-long average of 23.2 PPG to 24.7 PPG over the last 10 games. Unfortunately, the rest of the team doesn’t seem to be scoring as much, but the wins keep coming nonetheless.

4. Memphis Grizzlies (44-19) – How is this even possible? The Grizzlies trade away Rudy Gay – their leading scorer – and win 14 out of 15 games. Ironically, the only team that’s beaten them is during this stretch is the Miami Heat, which is the only club that’s been hotter too. Memphis has played good defense all year and has really stepped things up over the past few weeks. Of course, you have to play strong defense when your leading scorer is only averaging 15.8 PPG (Zach Randolph).

5. L.A. Clippers (45-21) – Los Angeles has provided lots of highlight-reel dunks lately, including DeAndre Jordan’s posterizing of Brandon Knight. deandre-jordanHowever, the insane dunks haven’t really led to more victories in March, and the Clippers are just 3-3 in the past six games. They’ve also dropped home games to the Grizzlies and Thunder during this stretch, which makes it hard to rank them any higher. The schedule does get slightly easier over the next two weeks though.

6. Indiana Pacers (40-24) – Indiana is still holding onto the Eastern Conference’s second seed, despite a challenge from the Knicks. This is a team that does a good job of beating who they’re supposed to – although they’ve had some difficulties with strong teams. They have lost recent games to the Clippers, Celtics and Heat over the past couple weeks. The rest of March looks pretty easy for the Pacers though, and we expect them to increase their lead over New York.

7. Denver Nuggets (44-22) – Ty Lawson is definitely taking the reigns of this team as he’s averaging 21.0 PPG over the past 10 contests. This is up ty-lawsonfrom Lawson’s season average of 17.0 PPG and has really given Denver a boost. Of course, it also helps that Danilo Gallinari (16.4 PPG), Andre Iguodala (12.9 PPG), Kenneth Faried (11.8 PPG), Corey Brewer (11.7 PPG) and Wilson Chandler (11.4 PPG) are scoring in double figures too. There are also three other players who are scoring at least 8.3 PPG or more, giving the Nuggets a very good bench.

8. Brooklyn Nets (38-27) – We don’t particularly think that the Nets have done great lately. But they’ve done well enough to surpass some of the other struggling Eastern Conference playoff teams like New York and Chicago. After losing four out of the past five contests, Brooklyn has rebounded to win four out of the last five games. The next three contests are very winnable too, and the Nets could certainly use some W’s because they’ll be heading out on an eight-game road trip on March 18th.

9. New York Knicks (38-24) – The Knicks have been fading over the past two months and things haven’t gotten much better lately. They lost three out of the past four games and don’t perform well against playoff teams on the road. They were beaten at Denver last night by 23 points, and were dismantled at Golden State by 29 the game before. Carmelo Anthony is really suffering these days since his season average of 27.5 PPG has dipped to 22.1 PPG over the last 10 games.

10. Golden State Warrior (37-29) – Previously this year’s Cinderella story, Golden State had an awful month in February. They lost six straight games at one point and lost 10 out of 13 games from February 5th to March 2nd. Amazingly, the Warriors are still in the thick of the Western Conference race after all this, and they’ve won four out of the last six games. We don’t see the Warriors gaining home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, but they could lock down the fifth seed with some strong play.