All of a sudden, the Cleveland Cavaliers are in the driver’s seat to force a Game 7 in the 2016 NBA Finals. It’s not what the betting public would have counted on after the Golden State Warriors took a commanding 3-1 series lead, but it’s what oddsmakers predicted before the series began.
Heading into Game 6, Bovada.lv gives LeBron James and Co. +325 odds to win the title. Golden State remains a heavy favorite with -450 odds, though they are slight underdogs in Game 6 with the betting line set at two points.
Prior to Game 5, the Warriors were considered a virtual lock to repeat as champions. The Warriors had -1600 odds, and they were 5.5-point favorites Monday — even after Draymond Green was suspended. Cleveland was a +850 underdog to win the series, but the Game 5 victory cut their title odds by more than half.
Having set a record with the longest home-winning streak in NBA history, Golden State was expected to clinch the title at Oracle Arena. They had +300 odds to win the series in either five or seven games, making it the most likely outcome. Next was Golden State in six, which was given +450 odds after the conference finals, but that outcome now has +115 odds.
The Cavs’ best chance was considered to be a series win in six games (+500), but Cleveland can no longer close the series out at home. Instead, they hope to extend the series with a chance to close out the Warriors at Oracle Arena, where Golden State has lost just four times this season. The Cavs entered the series with +750 odds to win the championship in exactly seven games.
The odds of the series ending in five (+240), six (+210) or seven (+200) games were all relatively close at the start of the finals, but a sweep by either team (+550) wasn’t given a strong chance of happening. No team has been swept in the finals since James and the Cavs failed to win a game against the San Antonio Spurs in 2007.
Despite Golden State’s dominance in the regular season with a record 73-wins, their postseason run hasn’t been a cakewalk. They lost a game in both the first and second round — Stephen Curry sat with an injury in each defeat — and the Warriors climbed out of a 3-1 series hole to get by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
San Antonio was given better title odds than Golden State to start the season, but that changed when the Warriors got off to the best start in league history with 24 consecutive wins. Golden State remained the favorites until they lost three of the first four games of the conference finals.
The Warriors clinched the title on Cleveland’s home floor in Game 6 of the 2015 NBA Finals. Golden State’s odds to win this year’s finals reached as high as -230 after they beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in the conference finals.