Wednesday’s contest between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors showed exactly how much of a difference one game can make. LeBron James and Co. are still decided underdogs in the 2016 NBA Finals, but their odds have markedly improved after winning Game 3.
Following a dominant performance that saw the Cavs beat the Warriors by 30 points, Cleveland has +275 betting odds to win their first ever championship. Golden State’s odds have been more than cut in half as a result of one game, going from -750 to -350 for the series at Bovada.lv. Cleveland was a +475 underdog before Game 3.
It wasn’t hard to see why the Warriors were such heavy favorites after winning the first two games at Oracle Arena. Golden State won the series opener by 15 points, even though Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined for a season-low 20 points. Game 2 was a 33-point blowout, and the Cavs seemed to have no answers for the team that had beat them seven times in a row.
Cleveland is a slight favorite in Friday’s Game 4, and they can guarantee that the series will last at least six games with another victory at Quicken Loans Arena. But the most likely conclusion might be Golden State in five, and Sportsbook.ag gives the Warriors +170 odds to win the next two games. The odds of Golden State closing out the series in six games or seven games are +225 and +250, respectively.
The Cavs have +600 odds to win in seven games, an improvement from the +800 odds they were given after Game 2. Four straight victories is still a longshot (+1000), but a much more reasonable thought than it was after Game 2 (+1600).
Cleveland looked like a completely different team than they had in the first two games, right from the start of Game 3. With Kevin Love out of the lineup with a concussion and replaced by Richard Jefferson, the Cavs jumped out to a 19-4 first-quarter lead. The Warriors never cut the lead to lower than seven points.
The old adage states that a series doesn’t begin until the road team wins a game, and Cleveland’s improved performance might have a lot to do with returning home. The Cavs are 8-0 at home this postseason, winning their last five home games by an average of 28.6 points.
Golden State has dropped Game 3 in all four of their playoff series. They bounced back to win Game 4 in each of the first two rounds, but they were embarrassed in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals, losing in Oklahoma City by 24 points.