NBA Finals 2016 Tips
Golden State Warriors v Cleveland Cavaliers
The Warriors have a habit of breaking records so far in the 2015/16 season. The best ever regular season record (73-9), the first ever unanimous MVP (Steph Curry) & only the 10th team to rally from 3-1 down in a NBA Playoff series. They face their toughest task yet though against the Cavaliers, who are fully healthy this time round. Injuries to Irving & Love derailed their Championship hopes last season, despite Lebron’s superstar showing, averaging 35.8 points per game, 8.8 assists & 13.3 rebounds. The Warriors took 6 games to get past them, the series tied at 2-2 after 4 games.
The 2015/16 season was turbulent at times for the Cavs, sacking David Blatt mid-season despite his 30-11 record. Tyrone Lue replaced him, and the Cavs have not looked back since. Whizzing through the first two rounds of the playoffs with an 8-0 record, they came slightly unstuck on the road to the Raptors, but home-court advantage played a huge part, winning their 3 home games by an average of 29.3 points. The finals begin Thursday night, giving the Cavs a full 6 days’ rest, vital at this point of the season.
The Warriors have had a much tougher fight, injuries to Steph Curry led to an extended series against the Trail Blazers, winning 4-2. That was no easy fight, the Trail Blazers scoring over 100 points in all but one game. The Thunder posed an even bigger challenge, handing the Warriors just their 3rd loss at home of the season. Give this team immense credit though, they were down 3-1 in this series, and trailed by 13 points in Game 6 & Game 7, immaculate 3 point shooting from Curry & Thompson digging them out of a massive hole. The Warriors are hungry to be regarded as a better team than the 95/95 Bulls, but only a Championship will secure this status. The finals will be there downfall though, for a number of reasons.
- Fatigue: While key players may have got reduced minutes in the regular season, the constant focus & desire needed to win 73 games in the NBA is taxing, no matter who you are. Warning signals have been displayed during the playoffs, their defence coming under particular strain, conceding over 100 points in 9 of their last 12 playoff games. Their rally from 3-1 down in the Conference finals with the addition of just 3 days rest before they play again is also a major factor.
- Home Court Advantage: Just like last season, the first two games of this series will be played in the Oakland Arena. In 2015, both Game 1 & Game 2 went to overtime, the Cavaliers winning one of these games. The Cavaliers are fresher, and will be determined to steal home-court advantage in this series, they’ll have little fear of playing on the road. With a perfect 7-0 post-season record in Ohio, pressure is on the Warriors to produce, and should they fall behind in the finals, their physical & mental attributes will undergo another huge test.
- Cavalier’s roster & shooting: The availability of Irving & Love should tilt this series in the East’s favour. Cleveland have turned to their 3 point shot regularly in the post-season, breaking the NBA record for 3’s made vs Atlanta, and averaging over 40 3pt attempts per game vs the Raptors. They have the ability to go into the post too, something Golden State struggled with immensely against the Thunder, and being outscored & out-rebounded on the inside will be a big worry if their outside shot dwindles.
- Cavaliers to win the Championship: (2.86 Ladbrokes)
- Cavaliers to win Game 1 (3.15 Bet365)
- Cavaliers +1.5 Series Game Handicap (1.80 Ladbrokes)