Are Cleveland Cavaliers Out of It After Game Four Loss?
Wayne Root: Are Cleveland Cavaliers Out of It After Game Four Loss?
Cinderella's coach may have turned into a pumpkin Thursday night when the Cleveland Cavaliers lost at home to the Golden State Warriors 103-82. The market sure thinks this series is over!
Before Game Four: Golden State was a -115 series favorite
After Game Four: Golden State is a -400 series favorite!
That went from a near coin-flip when the Cavaliers led the series 2-1, to what appears to be a pending rout now that it's tied at 2-2.
Hey...we've seen this before! Golden State was a staggering -700 after winning the opener as Kyrie Irving was lost for the series to an injury. Cleveland climbed out of one big metaphorical hole. Can they do it again?
You know that THE KING OF UPSETS is thinking very deeply about that. I've made my name and reputation by calling more documented upsets than any other handicapper in the industry. And, even if I decide against doing anything bold on the Cavaliers in terms of winning the championship, I have to consider their "cover" possibilities as underdogs of around +8 or +9 on the road, and probably around +3 or +4 in their only remaining home game.
It's possible that Cleveland can go 2-0 or 2-1 against the spread while being eliminated. And, our goal of course as Las Vegas sports bettors is to make money. Winners always look for value.
I'm not going to tell you here in a web article whether exactly what I'll be doing this weekend in the NBA. But, I will tell you this much. For the Cavs to make a run at another shocker, or at least cover some spreads, they'll have to do the following:
*Remember what got them here! It was amazing to see the Cavaliers play faster basketball Thursday night. They fell into the brilliant trap set by Golden State head coach Steve Kerr. Even when the Cavs' aggression was working at first...you knew it was going to cause troubles because Cleveland doesn't have the depth to play four quarters of aggressive basketball. I won't step out with a big pick in Cleveland unless it's clear that the coach and players have made it clear they understand this!
*Be more aggressive on defense! The Cavs only forced seven turnovers in Game Four, after forcing 12, 18, and 14 in the first three games. I think fatigue was part of the issue here. Cleveland just ran out of gas, which killed them on both ends of the floor. Having two days off should help them a bit. Though, they have to come right back with only on day off between Sunday and Tuesday for Game Six. In terms of raw energy, that could set up "road" value for the next two games.
It also wouldn't hurt for them to find somebody who can make some shots outside. J.R. Smith is having a horrible series. This isn't something a handicapper can really anticipate in advance, particularly with a colorful character like Smith. The fact that Smith has been so out of sorts makes it hard to be too aggressive about a championship run. Cleveland is more likely to "compete" and lose valiantly than they are to win the series. Even that's not a sure thing given the look of the last five quarters.
Being based in Las Vegas, I've had very good access to the Golden State story this season. Whenever a California-based team does well, it creates quite a buzz in local sportsbooks. This isn't quite what we see with Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. Well, not yet anyway! Maybe in a few seasons. Still, I think I have a very good sense of when Golden State is going to play well...and when they're going to lose focus and take things too casually. What I've learned watching the Warriors will ultimately have the greatest influence in how I play the rest of the series. Whether or not I step out on the underdog is going to be based on what I know about the favorite.
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