NBA Championship Final 2015 - US Sports Trader's View
It’s the final that everyone’s been waiting for. The two teams that dominated their opponents in the Conference Finals will square off in one of the most anticipated finals in recent memory.
Ever since early rumours after the 2013/2014 season of a return to Cleveland for LeBron James, there has been a ridiculous amount of hype for the Cavaliers. The money has come thick and fast for King James and co to celebrate Cleveland’s very first championship, with the vast majority of stakes falling on the Cavs. This faith has not been unrewarded. After a shaky start, they finished the season with a 39-9 record, and romped their way to the Championship final, sweeping two of their opponents 4-0. That’s without the likes of star forward Kevin Love, and with point guard Kyrie Irving dealing with injuries. Four time MVP winner James will be hoping to cap off a fairy tale return to Cleveland with his third NBA Championship.
Meanwhile, Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors has been writing fairy tales of his own. He led his team to an incredible 67-15 record over the regular season – 11 more wins than 2nd place Houston who they eventually dispatched 4-1 in the Conference Finals. They did so in a dominating fashion beating their opponents by an average of over 10 points per game over the course of the season, and in the process, Steph deservedly earned himself the accolade of Regular Season MVP.
Both teams were heavily backed for their respective conferences, and neither disappointed. The combined 29 games required for these two teams to get to the Final is a record fewest since the 7-game series was initiated in 2003. The obvious question now that these two formidable forces will collide is which one will prevail? The answer is not so obvious.
They faced each other twice in regular season. The Warriors won their home game by 18; the Cavaliers won theirs by 11. The Warriors’ impressive regular season record earned them home advantage, and this could prove crucial when you consider that they lost at home only twice during the regular season. This seems heavily built into the pre-series prices of 4/9 Warriors, 15/8 Cavaliers.
Despite this impressive home record however, the punters remain unconvinced, with early money still coming for the Cavaliers. Part of this could be down to experience. LeBron James is undoubtedly the go to guy in clutch situations, and what more experience do you need than having played in 5 Championship Finals? That being said, you can hardly say Curry is a guy who buckles under pressure, shooting 44.3% from beyond the arc this season and 91.4% from the line.
It’s unsurprising that these two personalities take up the majority of the book for the title of Finals MVP, with prices of 1/2 Curry and 15/8 James very much mirroring their team’s season prices. However, for those looking for a player to rip up the rule book like last year’s Kawhi Leonard (who began the Championship Series as a 33/1 shot) there is a whole host of talent on display. Draymond Green will likely have the unenviable task of defending against James, but as the runner up defensive player of the year, and having contributed to forcing MVP runner-up James Harden to a record 13 turnovers in Game 5 against the Rockets, could be more than up to the task. His combined stats in the two regular season games against the Cavaliers of 26 points, 14 assists, 19 rebounds could make him an appetising play at 20/1. Guards Klay Thompson and Kyrie Irving could also be capable of overcoming injury problems and having a monster series, priced at 16/1 and 14/1 respectively.
Neither team seems particularly likely to replicate the dominance shown in their previous series, with 4-0 Warriors at 8/1 and 4-0 Cavaliers at 25/1, whereas a highly competitive series looks far more likely with 7 Games at 2/1.
Game 1 tips off at 2am on 5th June 2015 of what is certainly hyped to be an incredibly series, of which only one can be crowned champion, and only one fairytale can become reality.