3-1 ahead, back on their own floor, the Golden State Warriors should be planning a NBA Championship parade in Oakland tonight.
Instead, Draymond Green’s suspension has lobbed a large powerful bomb into the permutations for Game 5 – and perhaps a way for the Cleveland Cavaliers to resurrect their chances.
Green has averaged a little below his average with 14.8 points and 5.8 rebounds in this series but it’s his emotional leadership that the Dubs will miss the most. In kicking out at LeBron James, it showed the All Star can cross a line in his intensity. But in the Finals so far, Golden State are +13.6 with him on the court and -9.6 with him on the sidelines. The Cavs, surely, smell an opportunity now.
It should give James more offensive openings, especially at the rim and in rebounding after he landed 25 points and 13 rebounds in Game 4’s 108-97 defeat, suggesting this could be the highest scoring clash to far – with taking over 208.5 points at 2.30 worth a punt.
It also figures to bring Kevin Love back into contention for a starting spot to take advantage after his post-injury benching on Friday, with Andre Iguodala taking Green’s initial place for the Warriors.
Honours even there – and the heart of the champions cannot be underestimated. But at 3.00 to prolong this series, Cleveland have the slice of hope they badly needed, even if they remain 12.00 long shots to steal the title.
Best bet: Take Cleveland for the first quarter at 2.48
The women’s Olympic basketball qualifier starts on Monday in Nantes and there is a real gulf between top and bottom in the race for the five spots in Rio – with France and Spain unbackable, and Belarus, Turkey and China close behind.
The only intrigue might be if the Belarussians or Chinese might falter with the latter a potential upset at 2.50 to miss the Games.
Best bet: Go under 30.5 points in the fourth quarter of France-Cuba at 1.95