Categories: NBA

Cavaliers vs Warriors – NBA Game 1 Pick for May 31st

On Thursday, the NBA Finals get underway with the Golden State Warriors hosting the Cleveland Cavaliers in a game where the Dubs are a huge favorite. In fact, the Warriors 12.5 point spread is the largest Game 1 spread since the 2001 NBA Finals.

These two teams are meeting for the 4th straight year in the Finals with the Warriors also listed as a massive favorite to win the series. Depending on the site, the Warriors are listed as high as -1100 odds. Golden State is looking to win back-to-back championships and their 3rd in the last 4 years. They’ve gone 2-1 against Cleveland in the last three NBA Finals.

So, the big question is – does Cleveland have a chance in Game 1?

I do believe the Cavs have a chance in the first game of the series. Albeit, a small chance. But, as of this publication, Andre Iguodala isn’t supposed to play in Game 1 due to the same knee injury that kept him on the sideline for the last 4 games of the Western Conference Finals. With Iggy out, Golden State is going to struggle with defending LeBron James. And, they would be better off not trying to have Kevin Durant guard James until late in the game due to potential foul trouble.

For the postseason, James is averaging 34 ppg, 9.2 rpg, and 8.8 apg. He’s been a one-man wrecking crew and has done a remarkable job leading the Cavs to the Finals. LeBron will need to hit those averages in Game 1 for the Cavs to be within 10 points of the Warriors. However, King James will need help from others for Cleveland to have any realistic chance at winning the game.

That assistance starts with Kevin Love who is expected to return after missing Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals due to a concussion. The Cavs will desperately need his double-double output and defense on Durant or Draymond Green. Additionally, Cleveland will need Hill, Thompson, Smith and Korver to contribute to the stat sheet and not disappear on the road like they’ve done all postseason. I also believe Jeff Green has found his game again and I expect him to contribute solid minutes off the bench.

For the Warriors to win, they just need to hit their shots. When they’re on, they average nearly 113 ppg, but when they’re off it gets ugly real quick. Just look back at the Western Conference Finals when Houston held the Warriors to 92 points in Game 4 and 94 points in Game 5.

Golden State is led by their “Big 4” and as they go, the Warriors go. So far, it’s been Kevin Durant leading the charge with 29 ppg, 7.1 rpg, and 4.1 apg. He had 34 points in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals, which led all scorers. Last year in the Finals, Durant tore up the Cavs on his way to earning the NBA Finals MVP trophy.

Klay Thompson has been wildly inconsistent during the last round of the playoffs and will need to hit his 20.5 ppg average to help the Warriors win. Curry is pouring in 24.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg and 4.9 apg in the playoffs. I expect him to greatly outplay George Hill in this series. Lastly, Draymond Green is averaging 11.1 ppg, 11.6 rpg, and 8.1 apg. He’s the catalyst on defense and does all of the dirty work. Cleveland will need Thompson or Love to try and match Green’s grit and grind.

The 12.5 point spread scares me off. Cleveland could easily get blown out by 30 on the road or cover this spread due to LeBron’s efforts like in Game 7 against Boston. The biggest reason why this spread scares me is because the Warriors are only 9-8 ATS in the playoffs, 20-28 ATS at home this year, 5-8 ATS when favorited by 12.5 points or more, 11-18 ATS in their last 29 games against the Eastern Conference, 6-11 ATS playing on two days rest, and 4-6 ATS versus the Central Division. Bottom line, they’ve been terrible covering the spread at home and in these playoffs.

Although I think the Warriors will win, the -900 moneyline is just too high to bet on. So, the Total is the way to go in this game, and possibly the entire series. The Under is 5-2 in Cleveland’s last 7 games and 4-1 in their last 4 road games. For the Warriors, the Under is 5-0 in their last 5 overall games and 4-1 in their last 5 home games.

Either this is a blowout win for the Warriors in the ballpark of 118 to 94 or it will be a close, ugly game somewhere in the ballpark of 101 to 97. Either way, I see the Under hitting in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

Bet: Under 214.5 Total Points (-110)

Rick Rockwell

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Rick Rockwell

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