The record of Eastern Conference champions Cleveland has been almost as sensational and they will be determined to avenge last year’s 4-2 finals defeat in perhaps one of the most eagerly-awaited series ever. Bookmakers are also anticipating a gripping seven-match contest and there are some intriguing basketball betting markets to consider.
- Golden State Warriors topped the Western Conference with an astonishing 73-9 record, while the Cavaliers went 57-25 to to finish the regular season as top seeds in the east.
- Cleveland came through the playoffs without losing a single game in the first round or the semi-finals and beat Toronto Raptors 4-2 in the Eastern Conference finals. Golden State overcame Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers 4-1, and then had to come from behind to beat Oklahoma City Thunder 4-3 in their final.
- Golden State beat Cleveland 89-83 and 132-98 in their two regular season matches. They also won four matches to two when the teams met in last year’s NBA finals.
Cleveland navigated the playoffs more smoothly and appear to be hitting top form at just the right time. They are looking stronger than they did at this time last year, when injuries to key players like Kevin Love damaged their chances of competing with the formidable Warriors. James remains the talisman and netted 33 points in their Conference-clinching 113-87 victory over the Raptors, but he will need to sustain this kind of scoring for the Cavaliers to have a good chance.
The bad news for Cleveland is that Golden State also appear to be a better side than they were in 2015, which is some achievement. The Warriors’ tally of 73 wins was an NBA regular season record and they also showed their character to spin off three successive victories from 3-1 down to Oklahoma City in the Western Conference finals. Curry’s performances have even left James in the shade, having averaged 30.1 points per game in the regular season, and there have to be doubts over whether Cleveland’s defence can combat the NBA’s hottest shooter.
The key factor could be that the first two matches will be held at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, which has been a fortress for Golden State all year. They lost just two out of 41 home games in the regular season and if they get off to a fast start they could well be in a position to clinch the title by the time the series returns to California for match five.
- Sports.net’s top tip: Golden State Warriors to win 4-1 - 16/5