For the fourth year in a row the Golden State Warriors will face off against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals.
Both teams dug deep in their respective Conference Finals as they were each taken to game sevens, but their experience proved to be vital guiding them over the line.
The Warriors proved their quality as they rallied from a first-half deficit to crush the dreams of the Houston Rockets on the road.
Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson came to the fore to drive their side over the line with an outstanding second-half performance.
The Cavaliers also proved their quality on the road by defeating the Boston Celtics. Brad Stevens’ men put LeBron James and company under pressure in the first quarter.
However, the response was emphatic from LeBron and his team-mates, rallying to edge out the home side at the TD Garden.
As a result, the stage is for round four of the contest between the Warriors and Cleveland. Golden State have won two of the three Finals between the sides.
This includes their 4-1 drubbing of the Cavs last season when they were able to romp towards the Championship.
Cleveland are weaker this term without the presence of Kyrie Irving. Therefore LeBron will have to elevate the standard of play beyond the incredible he produced against Boston to secure his side’s second crown.
The Warriors are looking to establish their dynasty as one of the all-time greats and will begin their quest in game on at Oracle Arena.
Golden State Warriors
The Warriors were under pressure in the first half of game seven against the Rockets. James Harden, Eric Gordon and Clint Capela found their form from the perimeter and in the paint. Houston held a first-half lead, but fell apart in the second half. They missed 27-straight shots from deep, while Curry and Durant seemingly nailed every three-pointer in the second half. The experience of the Warriors was crucial in deciding the contest, while the absence of Chris Paul also played a role.
In the clutch Curry and Durant were able to rise to the occasion, while Harden and his team-mate crumbled. Golden State have Championship DNA and were able to use that to completely swing the momentum in their favour to close out a comfortable win on the road. They will now look to capitalise on their second-half form to get off to a winning start in the Finals.
Curry had an up-and-down time during the Western Finals. However, when the Warriors needed him to fire, he was outstanding from the perimeter. The 30-year-old is arguably the best shooter in the history of the NBA from distance and he used those skills to put Houston the sword.
Curry notched seven of his 15 attempts at three-pointers, which were the backbreaker for the Rockets. It’s a worrying sign for the Cavaliers that he appears to be fully healthy after his knee injury. He can take the game single-handedly away from Cleveland and will be looking to regain his NBA Finals MVP crown from Durant.
Durant was also exceptional in game seven as he top scored for the Warriors with 34 points. He was just as deadly from the perimeter as Curry, while he went for the net the Rockets had no answer for his power. The 29-year-old was dominant in the Finals last term and will be looking to start in a similar manner.
The Cavaliers’ experience was also the key factor in seeing off the Celtics. LeBron had as expected a huge game, rising to the occasion with a 35-point performance. However, the Cavs also received key contributions from Jeff Green, JR Smith and Tristan Thompson. The rest of the roster needed to produce, especially considering that Kevin Love was sidelined due to a concussion.
Cleveland were put on the back foot by Boston’s start to the game. LeBron began the charge in the second quarter to bring the game back within reach. The Cavaliers took the lead late in the third quarter and then saw off a brief rally from the Celtics to see out the win, with the 33-year-old effectively ending the contest with a late flurry of points.
LeBron was the driving force behind the Cavs’ win over the Warriors in the 2016 Finals. He put the team on his back and put Golden State to the sword with two 40-point outings, including one in game six at Quicken Loans Arena. He will have to produce a similar performance in the Finals as he did in the 2015 campaign when he arrived with a team short on talent.
This side may have a slight edge compared to that team, although Irving and Love were both sidelined. To win the fourth crown of his career LeBron will have to be flawless throughout the series at both ends of the court. He is capable, although it will take a special effort, beginning at Oracle Arena.
In the Cavs’ triumph in 2016 Irving was the foil for LeBron. Either Green, Smith or George Hill will have to put points on the board to support the 33-year-old on this occasion. They do not have to be Irving from the 2016 Finals, but each one has to have one match where they are able to put 20 points on the board due to the Warriors’ potent offense.
The Warriors have won the first game in all three of the previous meetings between the two teams in the Finals. With Durant, Curry and Thompson operating at the peak of their powers expect that trend to continue. The Cavaliers defeated Boston more from the Celtics’ errors than their brilliance, putting only 89 points on the board.
Golden State will not be as forgiving as the Celtics, especially from the perimeter. Therefore back the Warriors to extend their run of winning game one in the Finals to four years on the bounce. Back them at odds of 1.11Bet €100 to win €11111/100Bet £100 to win £111-909Bet $100 to win $1110.11Bet HK$100 to win HK$111-9.09Bet Rp100 to win Rp1110.1100Bet RM100 to win RM111 with BetOnline, although take the Cavaliers to cover the +10.5 spread at odds of 2.15Bet €100 to win €21523/20Bet £100 to win £215+115Bet $100 to win $2151.15Bet HK$100 to win HK$2151.15Bet Rp100 to win Rp215-0.8696Bet RM100 to win RM215 with 888Sport.
Golden State Warriors To Beat Cleveland Cavaliers Game One
Thursday 31st May 2018 21:00 ET (Friday 1st June 2018 02:00 BST)
Odds: 1.11Bet €100 to win €11111/100Bet £100 to win £111-909Bet $100 to win $1110.11Bet HK$100 to win HK$111-9.09Bet Rp100 to win Rp1110.1100Bet RM100 to win RM111
Take +10.5 Spread Cleveland Cavaliers
Thursday 31st May 2018 21:00 ET (Friday 1st June 2018 02:00 BST)
Odds: 2.15Bet €100 to win €21523/20Bet £100 to win £215+115Bet $100 to win $2151.15Bet HK$100 to win HK$2151.15Bet Rp100 to win Rp215-0.8696Bet RM100 to win RM215
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- Golden State Warriors
- NBA Finals
- Steph Curry