The Golden State Warriors are four wins away from completely arguably the greatest season in NBA history. After a difficult Western Conference finals in which they barely escaped an upset at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder, the defending champs are favorites to repeat in the 2016 NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Shortly after the Warriors defeated the Thunder in Game 7 on Monday night, Golden State was named a -185 favorite to win the title by the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. Cleveland was given +165 betting odds, but the betting public quickly threw their support behind the team that won 73 games in the regular season. The Warriors’ odds increased to -230, and the Cavs became a +200 underdog in their quest for revenge from last season.
Golden State has been in the driver’s seat to win the title all season long. After winning last year’s championship, the team got off to a record-setting 24-0 start on their way to an historic regular season. The Warriors were so dominant that the 67-win San Antonio Spurs were largely overshadowed, and after overcoming a 3-1 series deficit to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, Golden State’s chances of winning the title are even better than they were when they prepared to face a banged-up Cavs team this time last year.
Heading into the 2015 NBA Finals, the Warriors were between -180 and -220 favorites depending upon the sportsbook. Kevin Love was ruled out for the postseason after the first round of last year’s playoffs, and Kyrie Irving saw his season end after Game 1 of the finals. This year, Love, Irving and LeBron James are healthy and rested, having played just 14 total playoff games.
The Cavs will have five days off before Game 1 of the finals, while the Warriors will get two days of rest. Golden State’s road to the finals was far from easy, playing 17 games, including six without Stephen Curry. The NBA’s back-to-back MVP and first ever unanimous winner missed time with two different injuries, and there were rumblings that he wasn’t completing healthy in the conference finals.
But there didn’t seem to be anything wrong with Curry once the Warriors faced elimination, and the star point guard averaged 32.7 points, 7.7 assists and 7.3 rebounds in the last three games. Even if Cleveland steals one of the first two games in Golden State, the Warriors should remain the favorites to win it all.
Last year's series lasted six games, and the most likely result this time around, according to the odds st Sportsbook.ag, is Golden State in seven (+300). The Warriors have +350 odds to close out the series at Oracle Arena in Game 5, and Cleveland's best chance to win the series is in six games (+400), considering they'd play Game 6 at home.
The Cavs have never won an NBA title, losing in the finals in 2007 and last year. This year marks the sixth season in a row in which James has reached the finals, winning the championship in 2012 and 2013.
James is 2-4 in the finals, and his team has been the underdog the last two times he’s come up short.