The Cleveland Cavaliers reached their second straight NBA Finals, third overall in franchise history, and next gun for their first championship when the best-of-seven series begins Thursday, June 2.
But LeBron James, who’s become the only non-Boston Celtic in league history to make six consecutive finals appearances, is still waiting to find out who he will face in the finals.
And while Cavaliers fans may feel confident and desire a rematch with the Golden State Warriors after how their team dispatched the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference finals, the Cavs will have a stronger shot at winning the very first title in franchise history if they face the Oklahoma City Thunder rather than Golden State.
The Thunder and Warriors will tip off Game 6 of the Western Conference finals Saturday night, with Oklahoma City leading 3-2 and capable of ending the series now before it turns back to Golden State for a potential and decisive Game 7.
Right now, the Cavs stand as title favorites over both teams. Cleveland’s chances of winning it all improved from +140 to +110, while the Thunder’s slipped from +160 to +210 after they dropped Game 5 to Golden State, and the defending champion Warriors are still at +300, according to Bovada.lv.
With James, forward Kevin Love, and point guard Kyrie Irving all playing well and healthy, unlike last year’s series with Golden State, the Cavs are in an excellent position to bring the City of Cleveland its first major professional sports title in more than five decades. Especially if they can play at home.
Should Oklahoma City wins the series outright, Cleveland would play host in the finals. The Thunder won 55 games in the regular season, compared to the Cavs' 57 wins, giving them home-court advantage if they meet in the finals. Golden State’s historic 73 wins in the regular season would obviously hand it home-court against the Cavs or if any other team had managed to come out of the East.
The Cavs were one of the best home-court defenders in the league this season, as well as the playoffs, and teams with home-court advantage usually win the series. Teams with home-court advantage have won 50 of the 69 NBA Finals going back to the first championship series in 1947.
The Cavs home record of 33-8 was only surpassed by Golden State and San Antonio this season, with Oklahoma City just one game worse than Cleveland at 32-9.
Cleveland’s also a perfect 7-0 at Quicken Loans Arena during these playoffs, while the Thunder have lost twice at home and the mighty Warriors once.
Odds to Win 2016 NBA Finals
Cleveland Cavaliers +110
Oklahoma City Thunder +210
Golden State Warriors +300