If the NBA Finals odds are even remotely correct for the best-of-seven series, the 2015 championship matchup is going to be one of the more exciting basketball contests in recent memory.
The current line at Vegas Insider and Sportsbook.ag has the Western Conference’s Golden State Warriors at -215, topping the Eastern Conference’s Cleveland Cavaliers at +180. That means on a $100 bet, you’d win just $46 if you’re going with the Warriors, but $80 if you place the money on the Cavs.
With this year’s MVP Stephen Curry leading the Warriors, and the NBA’s top all-around player by consensus LeBron James guiding the Cavs, the showdown is shaping up to be an epic duel.
Asked how to stop the sharpshooting Curry, LeBron told reporters, “Well, the same way you slow me down. You can’t.”
Against All Odds?
Without question, LeBron James has been the game’s biggest and most sought after commodity since he entered the league in 2003.
After leading the Cavs to the NBA Finals in 2007 and winning the regular season MVP award in both 2009 and 2010, James notoriously announced at the end of his contract that he was “taking his talents to South Beach.”
He won two more MVP awards with the Miami Heat and captured his first two NBA titles before announcing the kid from Akron was “coming home.”
Given his ability to completely control a basketball game, LeBron is undoubtedly the wild card in the series. Betting against him never seems like a sound gambling strategy, but the Vegas sports books are more accurate than you might realize.
Last year, the books had the Spurs as a slight favorite over the two-time defending champion Heat.
Oddsmakers at the time went out on the thin limb of going against James and Dwyane Wade in favor of Tim Duncan and the Spurs, and in the end they were correct as the Spurs won the series handedly at four games to one.
LeBron or Bust
It isn’t smart to go against Vegas, but the smart money is struggling to find a home in this NBA Finals. The underdog has the biggest bite in the NBA, but his opponents won seven more games than any other team in the league this season, and lost a total of three times on their home court the entire year including the playoffs.
The Cavs are also without star power forward and the team’s third-leading scorer Kevin Love, and Cleveland’s second-leading scorer, point guard Kyrie Irving, is battling a left knee injury but is expected to play.
Asked whether he’ll be 100 percent for the Finals, Irving said, “Unless something miraculous happens. Just like I said before, and I’m going to keep saying it, it’s a day-to-day thing.”
With the Cavs’ second-best player injured and its third-best out for the season, Vegas naturally sees the Warriors coming out victorious, but then again, LeBron is LeBron.
It’s the league’s best team versus the league’s best player, how to bet on that is a question only the seven-game series can correctly answer. The Finals tip-off tonight at 9 PM EDT.