NBA Finals – Game 1
Tip-off: Thursday, 9:05 p.m. ET
Golden State -6.0, Total: 210.5
The Warriors will be looking to take a 1-0 series lead when they host the Cavaliers in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday.
The Cavaliers made it to this point by defeating the Raptors in six games in the Eastern Conference Finals. This Cleveland team has lost just two games throughout the entire postseason and will be looking for revenge against a Warriors team that emerged victorious when these teams met in the Finals a year ago. The Cavaliers were, however, extremely banged up when these teams played last year and they will be at full strength when things get started on Thursday.
The Warriors, meanwhile, will be coming into this series after a battle in the Western Conference Finals. Golden State trailed Oklahoma City 3-1 in the series, but the team ended up winning 96-88 as a seven-point home favorite in Game 7 on Monday. The Warriors enter the Finals after having won-and-covered in three straight games. One trend favoring Cleveland in this series is that the team is 12-2 ATS when playing only its second game in seven days over the past three seasons. The Warriors are, however, an impressive 30-15 ATS as favorites of 3.5 to 9.5 points this season. Golden State, like Cleveland, will be at full strength coming into this contest.
The Cavaliers have looked very good throughout the duration of the postseason and they’ll now have their chance to make up for last year’s loss to Golden State in the Finals. As is always the case with this team, SF LeBron James (24.6 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 7.0 APG, 2.2 SPG in playoffs) will need to have a great series if the Cavaliers are going to find a way to hoist the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.
James was excellent in Game 6 against the Raptors last series, putting up 33 points with 11 rebounds, six assists and three blocks in 41 minutes of action. He was aggressive going to the basket and didn’t settle for too many jumpers. He’ll need to do the same against Golden State. James should, however, be feeling good about the way he’ll play in this series. He averaged 35.8 PPG, 13.3 RPG, 8.8 APG and 1.3 SPG in the Finals last year and won’t need to do as much, as his team is healthy coming into this series.
Both PG Kyrie Irving (24.3 PPG, 5.1 APG, 1.5 SPG in playoffs) and PF Kevin Love (17.3 PPG, 9.6 RPG in playoffs) should be able to really help James in this series. Both guys were out for the series when these teams met last year and they are both capable of taking over games. If Irving can hold his own against Curry on Thursday then the Cavs just might steal Game 1. It’d also be big if Love can get hot from deep.
The Warriors looked like they were down for the count against the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals, but they ended up coming away with a victory in the series and now have a chance to win their second straight NBA title. If Golden State is going to win this series then PG Stephen Curry (26.7 PPG, 6.1 APG, 5.9 RPG, 1.8 SPG in playoffs) will need to stay hot throughout this series. Curry scored at least 31 points in each of the final three games of the series against Oklahoma City. He is now 16-for-34 from the outside over the past three games and has a real chance to do some damage against the Cavaliers. Cleveland does not defend the point guard position well, so Curry must be aggressive on Thursday.
SG Klay Thompson (26.2 PPG, 1.1 SPG in playoffs) will also need to come out firing in this one. Thompson has been scorching hot over the past two games, going 17-for-29 from three in those contests. If he can continue to hit his threes then it’s going to make things a lot easier on his teammates moving forward. One guy who might just be the x-factor in this series is, however, PF Draymond Green (15.1 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 5.9 APG, 2.1 BPG, 1.6 SPG). Green is the Warriors’ most versatile defender and he will likely spend a lot of time guarding LeBron James in this series. If he can hold his own in that matchup then it’d be big for the Warriors.