Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors -12.5, Total: 214.5

The Series that seemed inevitable nine months ago is finally here, as the Cavaliers and Warriors will meet in the NBA Finals for an unprecedented fourth consecutive time. Even though we are all familiar with this matchup at this point, these NBA Finals do feel different than the previous three, and for good reason.

For really the only time since the 2016 Western Conference Finals, another meeting between these two teams seemed unlikely at best a week ago. Both teams trailed their Conference Finals series 3-2 and both needed historically bad three-point shooting by their opponents to win Game 7s on the road. This is arguably the worst roster LeBron James has ever taken to the finals, while the Warriors’ bench is worse than it has been at any point in this title run.

A Warriors win in five games has the feeling of inevitability, but even if that is the case, it should be interesting to see how they get there.


Game Play Predictions

  • The Cavs have lost the first quarter of Game 1 in each round of these playoffs by at least 14 points.
  • The Warriors are +130 in the third quarter in the playoffs. They were +68 in the third quarter in the Western Conference Finals.
  • The Warriors have assisted on 63 percent of made baskets in these playoffs, but their assist percentage was down to 53.2 percent in the Conference Finals.
  • The Cavaliers have a 51.4 assist percentage in the playoffs and had a 49.2 assist percentage in the Conference Finals.
  • Tristan Thompson won the opening tip just once in the Eastern Conference Finals, and there is no reason to believe he will have more success against Kevin Durant than he did against Al Horford and Aron Baynes .
  • LeBron James has used 37.6 percent of the Cavs’ possessions in the playoffs, per
  • The Warriors lead the league in assist-to-turnover ratio during the playoffs at 1.90, but it was down to 1.56 against Houston last round.
  • The Cavs are shooting 31.3 percent on threes on the road in the playoffs. Only the Spurs were worse. Cleveland is shooting 37.0 percent on threes at home in the playoffs.
  • The Warriors’ 52.2 percent rebounding rate ranks second in the playoffs behind only the 76ers. Cleveland is eighth at 50.1 percent.
  • The Cavaliers have made 10.3 threes and 26.4 twos per game in the playoffs, compared to 10.8 threes and 29.9 twos for the Warriors.
  • Cleveland is making 17.6 free throws per game in the playoffs, just ahead of Golden State at 16.9 FTM.
  • The Cavaliers rank 14th among the 16 playoff teams in opponent’s turnovers at just 12.2 per game.
  • This matchup features the two teams with the fewest opponent’s blocks in the playoffs.

Players to Watch

Cleveland Cavaliers

LeBron James : LeBron was the primary defender on Kevin Durant for most of the 2017 finals, and it seems nearly impossible for LeBron to guard Durant for 30 minutes per game while also averaging 34.0 points, 9.2 rebounds and 8.8 assists per game while shooting 54.2 percent from the field, as he has throughout the postseason. The problem is, Cleveland doesn’t really have anyone else to put on Durant.

Kevin Love : Love remains in the concussion protocol, and he is questionable for Game 1. While they Cavs will likely need his shooting in this series, their defense might be better if he is out.

Tristan Thompson : Thompson was left for dead for most of the first round of the playoffs, but his switch ability on defenseand rebounding on both ends have been essential against Golden State in the past.

George Hill : Hill is averaging 7.3 ppg on 42.5 percent shooting on the road in these playoffs compared to 11.8 ppg on 53.3 percent shooting at home. The Cavs can’t afford for the good George Hill to only show up at home in this series.

Jeff Green : Green had the game of his life in Game 7, and he has the best chance of any non-LeBron Cav of preventing Kevin Durant from scoring 50 points every night.


Golden State Warriors

Stephen Curry : Curry was 7-15 on threes in Game 7, so it is easy to forget he was completely outplayed by Chris Paul in the Warriors’ Game 5 loss. George Hill is a capable defender, but Steph should still have a big series.

Kevin Durant : If Durant is the best player in this series, Golden State should win pretty easily. After being hounded by Trevor Ariza for seven games, Durant should have a much easier time scoring in this series.

Klay Thompson : Even in the playoffs, the Cavs have been prone to defensive lapses that have led to open threes, and nobody can make them pay like Klay Thompson can.

Draymond Green : Green shot 2-17 on threes in the Conference Finals, and Cleveland will be more than happy to give him those shots. The Warriors just need Draymond Green to outplay Tristan Thompson in this series, which shouldn’t be too difficult.