THE wait is over and now the NBA Finals action kicks off with Game 1 on Thursday 6pm (Friday 11am in Australia).
The best thing about the Golden State Warriors playing the Cleveland Cavaliers is that punters get to see the two best players in the NBA go toe-to-toe.
It’s not just the Warriors vs. Cavaliers, it’s Stephen Curry vs. LeBron James and both players will no doubt bring their best form in what bettors hope is a long series.
By now we’ve seen that Golden State are the overwhelming favourites in Game 1 at home, so we’re going to look at a couple of exotic markets that some punters may overlook.
The First Basket market is a profitable and quick way to cash in these playoffs and we will also look at the Wire-to-Wire option.
First Basket market and tips
You may be thinking that picking the first basket scorer is pure luck, and in some ways we agree, but it can be analysed and the odds on offer are worth having a stab at.
Much like the very popular First Touchdown Scorer options for NFL, the First Basket market features the starting lineups from the Warriors and Cavaliers, with LeBron James currently favoured at $4.95.
James is currently the market favourite for three reasons: he controls the play when Cleveland are in possession of the ball, he will be looking to score early and set the tone for the series and starting centre Tristan Thompson has a very good leap.
What does that matter? When he faces the tip-ball situation at the start of the game, it’s vital that your team secures possession and has the first attempt at making a basket. If they don’t, you’re relying on that team missing and your player to score the next bucket, so securing the tip is key to betting this option.
Going on history, Thompson has a good chance of getting the tip and the ball will immediately shift to LeBron James – hence his favouritism tag at $4.95.
If James does want to give the ball up, he might get Kyrie Irving involved early to test out his niggling injury problems.
Irving is a solid choice at $6.75 as he won’t put up a wild three-point attempt. He will likely try and drive to the hoop and score an easier bucket.
Other Cavalier point-scoring chances include Iman Shumpert ($11.10), Tristan Thompson ($11.10) and Timofey Mozgov at $12.50.
Of those three players, the most likely to score first is Shumpert. The former New York player thrives on confidence – much like J.R. Smith – and they might look to get him going early in the play.
The Warriors have plenty of scoring threats, but as expected, Stephen Curry is their best shot to make the first bucket.
The regular season MVP is much like LeBron James in the fact that he will likely control the ball if Golden State win the tip.
The only thing that worries us about taking Curry is the likelihood of him taking a three pointer as his first shot. Statistically, three pointers are less likely to go in – regardless of who is shooing them – so we’re going to lean towards one of his teammates.
Klay Thompson has had a good learning experience in the playoffs so far. He’s under-performed to date and is coming off a hefty concussion after getting kneed in the face, but we’re expecting big improvement from one half of the duo known as the ‘Splash Brothers’.
Take both LeBron James and Klay Thompson ($6.45 at Sportsbet.com.au) and if your man scores first, you can always reinvest your winnings on the game in live betting.
First Basket Scorer market:
LeBron James – $4.95
Stephen Curry – $5.05
Klay Thompson – $6.45
Kyrie Irving – $6.75
Draymond Green – $9.60
Iman Shumpert – $11.10
Tristan Thompson – $11.10
Harrison Barnes – $11.50
Timofey Mozgov – $12.50
Andrew Bogut – $16.00
Wire-to-Wire betting options
Not the most common betting option, but one many punters have been pushing for.
The Wire-to-Wire option has three options and favours the punters that think one team is going to lead from the first quarter onward.
1. Cavaliers lead at end of each quarter – $7.00
2. Warriors lead at end of each quarter – $2.70
3. Any Other Result – $1.67
This market is for Game 1 of the NBA Finals only and the most popular option with the bookmakers is ‘Any Other Result’.
This option requires there to be a lead change after the end of the second, third or fourth quarter. For example; if Golden State lead after the first quarter, but lose their lead in any other quarter, the $1.67 for Any Other Result will cash.
For backers of Cleveland who think they will dominate from the word go, the $7 available to lead at the end of each quarter is great money.
They will be hoping the Cav’s get out to a handy first quarter lead and it’s just a case of holding on from there.
Alternatively, the option that will take a large majority of the money in Game 1 is for the Warriors to lead throughout at $2.70 with WilliamHill.com.au.
The Warrior are expected to win comfortably in Game 1 and a first quarter lead is also well favoured by punters. This option is a good exotic bet for Warriors backers who expect the Splash Brothers to fire up in the biggest game so far in their careers.
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