It’s here at long last as the Golden State Warriors will face off against the Cleveland Cavaliers in game one of the NBA Finals.
The two sides have been on a collision course since the Cavaliers defeated the Bay Area outfit in the championship game last term to claim their maiden crown.
Cleveland produced a miraculous comeback from 3-1 down in the series to defeat the Warriors, leaving Steve Kerr’s men with the bitter taste of a heartbreaking loss, despite their record-breaking season.
Golden State responded to their defeat by adding further firepower to their already star-studded line-up in the form of 2014 MVP Kevin Durant from the Oklahoma City Thunder. He has provided an extra dimension to Kerr’s men, making them almost unstoppable.
Tyronn Lue and the Cavaliers cracked the code last season to defeat the Warriors’ juggernaut and will have to channel the same level of performance this time around.
Both sides breezed through the playoffs, proving that they were indeed the class of the Western and Eastern Conferences respectively.
Cleveland broke Golden State’s opportunity to carve out a dynasty, but the Bay Area outfit will have the same chance this time to stop LeBron James and company, beginning with the opener at Oracle Arena.
We’ll now break down both teams and their odds of taking the early advantage in the Finals.
Golden State Warriors
The Warriors have been on a roll in the post-season, winning all 12 of their matches. Kerr’s men have been rampant and operating the peak of their powers, albeit receiving slight fortune when Kawhi Leonard sustained an ankle in game one of the Conference Final.
The 25-year-old was ruled out for the rest of the contest and it swung the momentum of the match into Golden State’s favour, with Durant leading a comeback to secure the win. From that point on Kerr’s side dominated the San Antonio Spurs to sweep the series.
There were concerns about the health of Durant before the playoffs after he missed 19 games towards the end of the regular campaign. The 28-year-old sustained a knee sprain that at the time looked as though it may have ruled him out for the year.
However, the 2014 MVP has bounced back to his best form and his power in and around the rim will be vital to the Warriors to set the tone.
In their defeat last season were knocked out of their rhythm in the latter matches, with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson failing to fire from the perimeter.
With Durant in the side along with Draymond Green, Kerr’s men can be more direct in their approach, alleviating the pressure on their point guards.
Curry has not hit the incredible heights he achieved last season, although to remain that perfect would require a superhuman effort. The 28-year-old still dictates the tempo of the Warriors’ offense and through him the Bay Area outfit will be determined to put the Cavaliers on the back foot.
Should he operate at his peak level – Golden State should be on their course to open the series with a victory at Oracle Arena.
The Cavaliers backed into the post-season with a poor run of form that cost them the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. The lapse performances proved to be of no concern for Lue’s men as they brushed aside the Indiana Pacers and the Toronto Raptors with ease.
Toronto and the Cavs had battled out a decent series in the Eastern Conference Finals last term, but even with DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry in the side – the Canadian outfit were no match for James and company.
The Boston Celtics capitalised on the Cavaliers collapse towards the end of the campaign to snatch the top seed, but not even home advantage could prepare them for the potent strikes of James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.
Cleveland’s star three players were operating at the peak of their powers over the course of the series, with only one small blip in their defeat in game three of the series. Lue’s men perhaps were a little complacent due to the absence of Isaiah Thomas.
However, the bounced back with two emphatic victories to seal their place in the Finals for the third year on the spin. James has been at his best in the playoffs and when he is in this sort of form there are few teams and players that can cope with his presence on the court.
The 32-year-old will renew his battle against Green at Oracle Arena. That contest could well decide the outcome of game one as well as the series. Should James be limited in his points scoring the pressure will be on Love and Irving to match the Warriors’ firepower.
Cleveland will have to be flawless on the road to swing the balance of the Finals in their favour.
The Warriors and their supporters will be riled up for the opener with revenge for their defeat last season firmly on their minds.
Golden State will be determined to set the tone for the series with a dominant performance on home court, playing their style of basketball to put the Cavs under pressure.
They were not explosive in the opener at Oracle Arena in game one last season, but managed to up the ante late in the contest to take the game away from Lue’s men.
With LeBron at the age of 32, the Warriors will be aiming to tire out the All-Star and ensure that his minutes on the court are limited. Using their high-tempo speed and ability to notch points on the fast-break they should be able to take the impetus in the match.
Therefore backing Golden State to win the opener at odds of 9/251.36-2800.36-2.800.36 with Bovada sportsbook is the option to take.
Durant will be aiming to make an impact in his second appearance in the Finals and his presence alone could allow the Warriors to win by a comfortable margin – as a result take the over Kerr’s men to win by 11 at 42/252.68+1681.681.68-0.60 with Marathon Bet.
Golden State Warriors To Beat Cleveland Cavaliers Game One
Thursday 1st June 2017 21:00 ET (Friday 2nd June 2017 2:00 BST)
Golden State Warriors To Beat Cleveland Cavaliers By 11 or Over
Thursday 1st June 2017 21:00 ET (Friday 2nd June 2017 2:00 BST)
Eric has been a sports journalist for over 20 years and has travelled the world covering top sporting events for a number of publications. He also has a passion for betting and uses his in-depth knowledge of the sports world to pinpoint outstanding odds and value betting opportunities.
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