NBA Betting: Back Golden State Warriors to draw first blood in a series they should win comfortably

They have the basketball’s best player. The experience, just 12 months ago, of confounding expectations to become the champions of the NBA. And a playoff record in 2017 of 12-1.

So Cleveland Cavaliers think it’s a little insulting that they’re 3.35 long shots to come out on top in this season’s NBA Finals.

"The whole underdog thing is funny to me,” Kevin Love declared. “Because, yeah, at the end of the day, we are defending our title.”

Against the Golden State Warriors though. Their long-time rivals who have arrived here with a perfect 12-0 mark in this post-season. The foe with a wealth of motivation after coughing up a 3-1 series lead over the Cavs 12 months ago. 

The superteam who added Kevin Durant last summer with one mission: to be so far superior to Cleveland when – and it’s seemed like destiny – the sides would be reunited once more as the last two standing.

The Warriors who have lived up to their name, only twice winning by single figures in these playoffs and only once threatened in the mammoth come-from-behind epic against the Spurs in Game 1 of the West Finals that showed grit as well as guile. 

So yes, Kevin, there’s nothing of the funnies about the Dubs being a mere 7.50 to sweep this series 4-0, starting with Thursday’s Game 1 in Oakland.

Durant and Steph Curry might be the toughest double act LeBron James has faced in his seven straight trips to the Finals and it would be a shock if Golden State hasn’t imprinted some of the harsh lessons learnt from 2016 when complacency and ill-discipline cost them dear.

Curry may not have been as spectacular but his steadiness looks set to trump the hit-but-occasionally miss of Kyrie Irving. Durant has all the tools to exploit Love at both ends and is worth a look at 4.50 to score the most points in the series. While Draymond Green will know a cool head is required to limit James as best he can.

What LeBron did last year was spectacular beyond belief. One against five but numbers beyond compare. But Cleveland is defensively fragile with its points differential  –  at 7.1 – well adrift of the Warriors unfathomably good 13.9, one reason why taking the 2015 champions at -9.5 to draw first blood at 2.28 is no outrageous punt.

Golden State, simply, look too focused, too motivated, too deep. And even if James pulls one miracle out of the bag, it will merely be one consolatory bone to throw to the underdogs.

Because while this may be a battle between two great teams, one – in truth - is another level above.

Best bet: Take the Warriors to win the series 4-1 at 3.75.