Boy, what a season it has been for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Here is a team that essentially reconstructed itself around LeBron James, putting together a whole new supporting cast that, unfortunately, did not provide a whole lot in the way of support. But on the strength of James’ super-human play, they are back in the NBA Finals again. The bad news for them is that they have to face the Golden State Warriors, in the best-of-seven championship that is set to begin on Thursday night. As we progress through each one of these games, VietBet customers can place wagers after the opening tip, making use of what is available through Like Betting Ultra.
2018 NBA Finals Odds
2018 NBA Finals Odds have been posted on this game by the folks at VietBet and Cleveland is a huge underdog:
Golden State Warriors -1000
Cleveland Cavaliers +650
The Game 1 favorite at home is Golden State, which is laying 12.5 points, with a posted total of 214.5.
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2018 NBA Finals Odds: CJ’s Take on the Series
A lot of different people came over for the Cavs, and a couple of them got lost in the shuffle. Rodney Hood, a guy who can score 16 or 17 points a game, was not used very much, got frustrated, and wound up in coach Tyrone Lue’s doghouse. Jordan Clarkson has also not been used effectively. And George Hill, a point guard on some good teams in the past, is still not really sure what his role is. It’s not so much that Cleveland doesn’t have good players to put around LeBron, it’s that it really is all ABOUT LeBron, and King James himself, while giving a lot of lip service to his teammates, rarely trusts the ball in anyone else’s hands.
Of course, there are occasional exceptions to the rule. LeBron seems somewhat comfortable playing with the guys that he made it to last year’s finals with, and that includes Kevin Love, the power forward who is questionable for this one, at least in the early part of the series, with his concussion issues. Love gives this team real scoring punch, and is a legitimate rebounder. The same can be said of Tristan Thompson, at least on the rebounding end, so if Cleveland wanted to go with some “muscle,” they could put Thompson and Love on the court at the same time, hoping that Golden State wouldn’t put a smaller lineup on the floor and run them off the court.
Contrary to popular opinion, Lebron can’t do EVERYTHING himself; if his teammates have the opportunity to chip in, and can produce, it is going to make it much more difficult for Golden State to defend them. And if the reserves are used judiciously, they can extract some advantages over the Warriors’ bench. But Lue seems uncertain about how he wants to use his troops. He has used 8 different starting lineup in the playoffs, and there exists a plausible argument as to whether Love, even if healthy, really helps the Cavaliers against this specific opponent.
Love is a good defensive rebounder, but he has problems covering people. If Golden State had to put out a lineup with Kevon Looney at center, perhaps because Andre Iguodala is unavailable for action, Love could conceivably fit in at the center spot, as Looney would not hurt the Cavaliers too much with his offensive ability. But if it is Golden State’s “Hamptons 5” or “Death” lineup in there, Love will have a lot of problems being useful at all on the defensive end.
If you think about it for a second, Cleveland’s best defense might be its offense, particularly that which is contributed by LeBron. After all, one of Golden State’s wings is going to have to guard him, and maybe, for instance, it’s Kevin Durant, who burned the Cavaliers last year for 35 points per game in the Finals. LeBron may have to “sell out” on offense, suffering a little on the defensive end. But if Durant has to deal with him, that might make his offense a little less effective too. And you don’t have to have a great memory to recall that in Golden State’s very anxious seven-game win over the Houston Rockets, Durant went through a three-game shooting slump where he went just 23 for 63 and was caught doing isolation plays all too often.
The bottom line is that a lot of things are going to have to fall into place for the Cavaliers to have a legitimate chance to win this series, and in the opinion of many people, for them to win just two games would be quite a compliment.
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By Charles Jay