THE Golden State Warriors are the toast of the basketball world after winning the franchise’s first NBA title in 40 years.
But one superb punter is counting his blessings after Warriors’ first year coach Steve Kerr inserted athletic sixth man Andre Iguodala into the Golden State starting line up in a bid to shake up his team after a loss in game three put them 2-1 down in the Finals series.
They would not lose again, the move proving a master stroke, Iguodala providing the small ball spark his side needed to win the last three games – and to give him the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player honour.
Sportsbet.com.au’s Christian Jantzen reports the punter decided to back Iguodala to win the trophy after game two in the series, at the juicy odds of $126 to one.
His $500 outlay means a collect of nearly $63,000 in one of the more astute – or lucky – NBA bets you will ever see.
“The punter placed the $500 bet on Iggy between games 2 and 3 at the juicy price of $126 to make a profit of $62,500,” Jantzen said.
Iguodala’s intangibles were what won him this award, not his numbers.
Lebron was dropping 35.8 points per night on the Warriors, but Iggy’s defensive efforts held him to just 39.8 per cent shooting from the field, well below the 48.8 per cent he shot during the regular season.
Iggy’s all round effort yielded 16.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4 assists and 1.3 steals each night, with a pair of hot shooting performances that featured 22 points in game three and 25 in yesterday’s close out game six.
He also hit at least one three pointer in each game, dropping 14 for the series and giving the Warriors another dimension on offence.
Versatile Draymond Green had high praise for his MVP team mate after the game.
“I always said Andre’s a pro’s pro,” Green said.
“He’s a professional guy and it showed, and that’s why he’s MVP of the series and that’s why we’re champions.”
But, for all of Iguodala’s sublime efforts, here at cupsbetting.com, though, we reckon The King, Lebron James, for all his “I’m the best player in the world” arrogance, was the more deserving winner of the award.
Iguodala was no doubt the Warriors best player in the series and his side did win, but there was no better player than Lebron.
Had he not played, this was a 4-0 sweep, probably by a record margin.
The Cavs lost stretch four Kevin Love to a should injury during the first round series with the Boston Celtics and then star point guard Kyrie Irving went down during the over time period in game one, leaving the Cavs with Lebron and a bunch of bench scrubs to contend with the deep and cohesive Warriors.
The only reason the Cavs won two games and forced over time in one other was Lebron.
But he is only human and the weight of carrying the entire franchise on his shoulders eventually wore him down.
He still put up massive numbers in his last two games, but he just didn’t have the gas in the tank to attack and make plays down the stretch.
At the end of it all, though, he ended up with a set of NBA Finals numbers reserved only for the all time greats.
As we mentioned, LBJ put down 35.8 points per night, but he did every thing for those Cavs, adding 13.3 rebounds, 8.8 assists and 1.3 steals per night.
His performances featured two triple doubles and a 44 point explosion in game one.
If only his team mates could make shots.
“We ran out of talent,” James said after the series loss.
“We gave everything we had.”
James now slips to 2-4 in finals and many say that is a massive indictment on his legacy, but it’s hard to see what more he could have done in this series to get his clearly inferior team over the line.
“Doesn’t matter if I’m playing in Miami or playing in Cleveland or playing on Mars,” he said.
“You lose in the finals, it’s disappointing.”
In game six, the Warriors closed it out, 105-97, surviving Lebron’s 32 point, 18 rebound, nine assist near triple double and Klay Thompson’s horrible foul ridden five point night.
Getting 25 points each from the aforementioned Iguodala and NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry and a super triple double from Draymond Green, who dropped 16 points with 11 rebounds and 10 assists to register only the fourth triple double in Warriors playoff history.
“I’m kind of speechless,” Curry said after the game.
“This is special.
“To be able to hold this trophy and all the hard work we’ve put into it this season, this is special.
“We’re definitely a great team and a team that should go down in history as one of the best teams from top to bottom.”
Curry had eight dimes and six boards to go with his buckets, while big man Festus Ezeli, providing some rare offence from the Warriors’ centre position, and point guard Shaun Livingston had 10 points each off the bench.
Both Mozgov – 17 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks – and Tristan Thompson – a 15 point, 13 rebound double double – were most impressive up front for the Cavs, while JR Smith – who has been so woeful in the series – gave the Warriors a late scare with a pair of three pointers that cut the lead to four with 55 seconds to go, on his way to 19 points off the bench.
Kerr paid tribute to “the sacrifice that every guy made”.
“From Andre and David (Lee) stepping away from the starting lineup to, throughout the playoffs, different guys stepping in and playing, whatever matchup we needed,” Kerr said.
“We just played, and they were all in it just to win.
“That’s the only thing that mattered.
“This is an amazing group of guys.”
While the Bay Area celebrates its long awaited title, Cleveland has to wait another year, as it’s drought without a major title extends another year – the last time any major sports team out of Cleveland won a championship was in 1964.
As far as the 2016 market is concerned, the Warriors are the $4.50 favourites to go back to back ahead of the beaten finalists Cleveland at $5.50 and Oklahoma City at $6.50.
The Dubs will obviously have to try and keep Green, but Lee becomes an expensive trade chip, while the Cavs will obviously rely on a healthy Kyrie Irving and either Love – if he stays – or whoever they bring in in his stead.
The Thunder missed the playoffs this season, but that was largely due to the long term injury to former NBA MVP Kevin Durant. He will team with NBA scoring champ Russell Westbrook and big man Serge Ibaka to become a very dangerous line up – if they can stay healthy.
2016 NBA title market
NBA Championship 2015-16
$4.50 Golden State Warriors
$5.50 Cleveland Cavaliers
$6.50 Oklahoma City Thunder
$8.50 Los Angeles Clippers
$10 San Antonio Spurs
$12 Chicago Bulls
$15 Houston Rockets
$17 Atlanta Hawks
$18 Memphis Grizzlies
$26 Washington Wizards
$31 Dallas Mavericks
$36 New Orleans Hornets
$36 Indiana Pacers
$36 Toronto Raptors
$51 Portland Trailblazers
$76 Miami Heat
$101 Milwaukee Bucks