Can the Raptors close it out in Oakland, or will the Warriors push it to a seventh game?
The series is still wide open as we look at the best bets for Wednesday’s clash in Oakland.
The bookies can hardly split the Warriors and the Raptors for part one of the 2019 NBA Finals.
See our prop picks and futures tips for Golden State and Toronto in the 2019 NBA Finals.
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
Game six : Golden State Warriors @ Cleveland Cavaliers, Wednesday, June 17, 11am AEST, ESPN
ONE more win.
That is all it will take for the Golden State Warriors ($1.54 with WilliamHill.com.au) to win their first NBA Championship in 40 years after they withstood an insane triple double from The King Lebron James in a 104-91 game five victory over Cleveland ($2.56 with CrownBet.com.au) in front of a raucous Oracle Arena crowd.
James was irrepressible, dropping 40 points to go with 14 rebounds and 11 assists to deliver for CupsBetting.com readers who followed our tip for him to record a triple double in the match at $3 with WilliamHill.com.au.
It was his second triple double of the series, but it wasn’t enough to surpass an insane shooting night from NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry.
The hot shooting point guard, who hasn’t been as dominant in the series as he would have liked, was on fire, dropping 37 points to go with seven boards and four assists, many of his seven three point makes either from the parking lot or adding the exclamation mark to his insane handles that bamboozled the Cavs defenders.
Curry’s supreme night was the highlight, the two superstars effectively cancelling each other out.
But this series has always come down to how well the support cast performs and, on this night, it was the Warriors lesser lights who stood up.
Draymond Green scored nine of the Warriors’ first 14 points, to end with 16 points, nine rebounds and six dimes and, while Klay Thompson only managed 14 points, little used Brazilian Leandro Barbosa stepped up with 13 off the bench to fill his void.
And it was Andre Iguodala, as he has done throughout the series, who again played out of his skin, dropping 14 points to go with eight boards, seven assists and three steals. He was involved in all the key plays and was the go to man defending Lebron.
It’s not often you’d say a guy has defended well when his opponent has dropped 40 points, but King James is that good – he did it at will when Thompson or Barnes went to him.
“He has the ball in his hands a lot,” Curry said after the game, when asked by a reporter how to stop Lebron.
“Stick with the program.
“Don’t get discouraged if he makes shots.
“He’s going to.
“Over the course of 48 minutes, we hope we wear him down to make it very tough on him.”
James is averaging an other worldly 36.6 points, 12.4 rebounds, 8.8 assists and 1.2 steals throughout the five finals games, but the Warriors have held him to under 40 per cent shooting from the field and would call that a win.
And, for all Lebron’s brilliance, he found a match in Curry, with Cavs’ coach David Blatt at a loss when asked by a reporter how to deal with the sharp shooter after the game.
“Not a lot you can do, honestly,” Blatt said.
“He made some terrific shots.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr went small in game four and it proved a master stroke, helping them secure victory.
Towering Cavs’ centre Timofey Mozgov had a career night in game four with 28 points and 10 rebounds, but hardly saw the floor in game five, playing just nine minutes as we got a glimpse of the future of NBA basketball.
Lebron basically played all five positions on the court, Draymond Green played centre for much of it for the Warriors and the ball was pushed.
The problem for Cleveland is that the Warriors play like this all the time. The Cavs do not.
The Cavs’ best contributor was Tristan Thompson, who hit the glass as he has done all series, finishing with 19 points and 10 boards, while JR Smith looked like he’d caught fire, dropping 14 points with four three pointers, but all of that came before half time.
After taking a 3-2 lead, the Warriors now have two chances to win the series, with the Cavs playing for their lives.
They’re in the box seat, but don’t tell Lebron that.
Game result: Golden State Warriors win ($1.54 with WilliamHill.com.au)
Line: Golden State Warriors -4.5 ($1.92 with sportsbet.com.au)
Total game score: Over 195.5 ($1.92 with CrownBet.com.au)
Margin betting: Golden State Warriors over 11 plus ($3.36 with sportsbet.com.au)
We’re sorry Lebron. But we think the dream of bringing a major title in any of America’s big sports to Cleveland is still going to be just that – a dream.
Cleveland has not won a major title in any sport for 51 years – it’s about to be 52.
Under the current 2-2-1-1-1 schedule format, the winner of Game Five in a series tied at 2 all has won the title 12 of 14 times in NBA history.
Lebron is averaging a massive 45.6 minutes per game in this series.
He played 45 minutes yesterday.
He only gets a one day break between games.
For all his supreme talents, he is only human, it will be a monumental effort if he can perform at the same level he did in game six – and we’ve already seen that doesn’t guarantee a Cavs victory.
The Warriors have been the best team in the NBA all season. They won 67 games. The won on the road, they dominated at home.
The bench runs deep with guys like Barbosa, Shaun Livingston and the forgotten man David Lee, coming into the line up, giving quality minutes and giving the stars like Curry plenty of rest.
The Cavs are ripe for the picking and we’re expecting the Warriors to run them off their feet.
The last time the Warriors visited the Quicken Loans arena, they walked away from it with a blow out 21 point win.
Lebron might be the hungriest player on the floor, but champion teams tend to trump a team of one champion.
The Warriors are primed to win this title, they have something special and it’s time to complete the job.
The last two games the Warriors have managed to win by 11 or more and we’re tipping the same thing to happen, even if it is on the tiring Cavs home floor – the bench only runs two deep, so expect them to stick with the Warriors early and then fade late.
The blue, yellow and white confetti is set to fall after this one, with Curry to complete his record breaking MVP season with a best on court performance.
Finals Most Valuable Player tips
Our tip: Lebron James ($2.14 with sportsbet.com.au)
Smokey: Andre Iguodala ($7.10 with sportsbet.com.au)
Even if the Golden State Warriors win this series, Lebron James should be the Finals Most Valuable Player.
Take any other player in the NBA and put him on that roster and the Warriors sweep them, no question.
No Kevin Love, no Kyrie Irving.
The side is made up of second round draft picks and undrafted scrubs.
And yet he’s put them on his back and managed to help them win two games in this series, averaging, as we’ve mentioned, 36.6 points, 12.4 rebounds, 8.8 assists and 1.2 steals.
No one comes close to him.
Lebron’s effort, even if he loses, has been as good as anyone since Shaq during the Los Angeles Lakers’ three peat in the early 2000s.
He has history against him though, with only the great Lakers shooting guard Jerry West winning the finals MVP in a losing effort.
Curry could be the danger after his 37 point night yesterday, but he would need a monstrous performance in game six to even be considered. He’s averaging 26.2 points, six assists and five rebounds, but he’s dropped seven treys twice in the series and while he’s struggled early on, seems to have turned the corner, making several key plays in the last three games.
Many believe Andre Iguodala has been the best Warrior in this series.
The 14.6 points, six boards and four dimes doesn’t appear to be MVP like numbers, but his defence on Lebron, making The King work for every thing and his ability to make big plays on both ends of the floor has caught the eye of many experts and he could be a real dark horse at odds for the gong.