Golden State and Cleveland will contest the NBA finals over a maximum of seven matches beginning this evening with the potential decider if required scheduled for June 21st. Golden State host the first contest and will have home advantage in four matches and that rota could be key in determining the outcome of the series. The Finals bring together the side that were first in the Western Conference and the runners-up in the Eastern Conference.
Click here for the NBA Conference standings.
Conference and Divisional Form
Golden State are based in Oakland in California and won the Western Conference of the NBA having qualified through the Pacific Division. They had a win-loss record of 67 to 15 in becoming divisional champions. They lost just 2 and won 39 home matches and were beaten 13 times on the road in 41 fixtures. They had the best win percentage in the NBA during the regular season and lost fewest fixtures. The side with the second best win-loss record in the regular season had seven more defeats in divisional matches. Golden State have won the NBA Championships three times, most recently in 1975 but under a former name.
Cleveland play in the city of their franchise name and were second in the Eastern Conference and won the Central Division. They had a win-loss record of 53 to 29 in becoming divisional champions. They lost 10 and won 31 contests at home and were beaten on their travels 19 times in 41 fixtures. Only Atlanta lost fewer matches in their Conference and had a better home record. Six sides had a better win percentage in the NBA during the regular season. Cleveland have never won the NBA Championships times but lost in the finals in 2007.
Path to the Finals
Golden State won 12 of 16 play-off matches and in none of the three rounds was a deciding fixture required. They lost just 1 of 8 fixtures played at home and in two of three rounds won the first two matches. On the path to the finals they scored 1565 points and conceded 1444 which equates to 52% of the total. Cleveland’s win-loss record was 12 to 2 and in three rounds did not go beyond the sixth match. They lost just 1 of 7 home meetings and in making the finals registered 1419 points while giving up 1295 which was also 52% of all point scored in their play-off matches.
As both sides came through the semi-finals with matches to spare there has been a gap in proceedings and that has increased the excitement ahead of potentially great Finals. Both sides deserve to have reached the end-of-season showpiece and have a combined 83% win percentage on route to the culmination of the NBS season. Cleveland may have the best player in the world in LeBron James in their ranks but will struggle to win the Larry O’Brien Trophy awarded to the NBA Champions.
Golden State have had a tougher route to this stage of the competition and have had to beat much better teams. The Western Conference is usually stronger than the Eastern version and Golden State have faced more potential contenders for the overall championship. Cleveland have played teams that for various reasons were not at their best and they have had some luck at just the right time throughout the regular season and play-off rounds.
They have won their last seven matches but are over reliant on James especially now with injuries to Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. James is playing in his fifth straight finals but the occasion will be new to all his teammates and Golden State can take advantage of that lack of experience. A big factor is home advantage in four matches and Golden State have lost just three times at their Oakland arena this season with an average margin of victory of almost 15 points. James is still a star but his side have too many injury issues to win the Finals as underdogs.
Golden State Can Cover 6 Point Handicap
As outsiders Cleveland have covered the handicap in just four of 15 fixtures while Golden State have covered in 26 of their 41 regular season matches at home and 43 times as favourites from 72 matches. The conclusion is that Golden State should be backed to overcome a six point handicap in tonight’s first match.
European odds can be found at British bookmakers William Hill
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