The Cleveland Cavaliers are 7-0 straight up over their last seven postseason games with a 4-1 record against the spread over their last five games. Yet they enter the NBA Finals on Thursday as underdogs to the Golden State Warriors in both the series and in Game 1.
Cleveland is a +165 underdog to win the best-of-seven series at sports books monitored by OddsShark.com. Golden State is a -190 favorite to win the series and has opened as a 5.5-point favorite to win Game 1.
With Kevin Love out for the rest of the postseason with a shoulder injury and Kyrie Irving hampered by foot and knee injuries, LeBron James has stepped up his offensive output this postseason to help the Cavaliers reach this point.
After averaging 25.3 points per game during the regular season, James has produced 27.6 per game this postseason and averaged 30.3 in Cleveland's sweep of the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals. James needed only 29 minutes of playing time to score 23 points in Cleveland's 118-88 series clincher in Game 4.
The Golden State Warriors were virtually unbeatable at home during the regular season with a regular season record of 39-2 straight up and 26-14-1 against the spread, and they have carried that success into the postseason with records of 7-1 straight up and 3-5 against the spread, according to the OddsShark NBA Database.
Those betting on the Warriors will likely relish the smaller spread to cover on Thursday night, as Golden State has a 7-1 record against the spread in their last eight games when favored by six points or less at home.
Like James, Stephen Curry has elevated his scoring to 29.2 points per game in the postseason, including a mark of 31.2 points per game in Golden State's series win over Houston in the Western Conference Finals.
Curry won regular season MVP honors over James and James Harden, and his team was able to defeat Harden and the Rockets in the conference finals. Curry is a 4/7 favorite on the odds to win NBA Finals MVP at the sportsbooks, while James starts off at 17/10. Kyrie Irving and Klay Thompson are each listed as 12/1 to win the award.