NBA Championship Preview

BOTH CAVS AND WARRIORS HAVE IMPROVED FOR THIRD STRAIGHT FINALS MEETING

It's the rubber match, as the defending World Champion Cleveland Cavaliers prepare to take on the Golden State Warriors in the 2017 NBA Finals for the third straight year. But, in a sense, it's really just the "first" meeting between THESE respective collections of talent with so much on the line.

*Golden State was already great, then added Kevin Durant!
*Cleveland was already great, but tweaked their offense to include more dynamic three-point shooting.

This year's Warriors team would beat last year's Warriors team...and that's not even accounting for the fact that Golden State was banged up in the finals in a way that allowed for that famous Cleveland comeback. This year's Cavaliers team would likely outscore last year's in a shootout because of the extra three-point production. Amazing to see two conference dynasties getting BETTER because they know they have to.

Let's run through the categories...

OFFENSE
You'll be watching two of the greatest offenses in the history of the NBA this week and next. We're not saying that because today's talent is better than the stars of yesteryear. We're saying that because today's talent is elite...and the world of analytics has created scoring schematics that are extremely difficult for opponents to defend. Golden State takes the best of what Magic Johnson's Lakers could do on the fast break, but adds in three-point volume and more half-court ball movement. Cleveland takes the best of Michael Jordan's Bulls, with a bigger "charge the basket" force and more outside shooting. If there's an edge...it's probably to Golden State because they have more guys who can get hot and win a game on their own. Klay Thompson is long overdue to be heard from in these playoffs. Yet, the Warriors can still win if he stays quiet. Slight edge to the Warriors in this battle of historically elite offenses.

DEFENSE
No mystery here. Golden State is the much better defensive team. That's hidden to many because they play high scoring games at a fast pace. But, when you measure points allowed per possession, Golden State is one of the best in the league. They force turnovers, block shots, and deny open looks in crunch time. Cleveland has lifted its play on this side of the floor in the playoffs as compared to the regular season. It's still a relative weakness. They were lucky to run into shorthanded opponents in the last two rounds of the Eastern brackets or that would have been more obvious. Big edge to the Warriors, and the key reason they're laying -250 on the series price in Las Vegas. If you believe that "defense wins championships," then there's only one series play here.

REBOUNDING
Neither team is a rebounding power because they tend to pick their spots. Obviously, the NBA Finals is a spot you're going to pick! So, we should see aggressive efforts from both teams whenever the games are close. Truly, you're only going to notice rebounding when one team or the other goes cold from long range. We expect this category to cancel out...but we'll be watching Game One closely just in case it doesn't. If Golden State is owning the boards out of the gate...then this series isn't going to last very long.

PACE
Golden State loves to play at a very fast pace, daring defenses to stop the blitzkrieg. Cleveland has historically slowed it down in the playoffs to save LeBron's legs, and to take advantage of his awesomeness in the halfcourt. Recently, though, Cleveland has been having success pushing pace. They'd better be careful vs. the Warriors. Running with these guys is dangerous. We'll say that now. If Cleveland gets lured into fast break basketball, they're going to be in real trouble. They need to deny easy buckets to the Warriors shooters.

There's a very interesting dynamic playing out at sportsbooks so far. The public, who generally loves favorites, has been coaxed into leaning toward big dog Cleveland because it's so rare for the Cavs to be getting prices like this. And, everyone who loved Golden State last year remembers how that worked out! It's the Wise Guys who are thinking of ways to invest in the Warriors because Durant has been added, and sharps respect defense.

How is JIM HURLEY going to play the series opener for his clients? You have to be a client to find out! You always can purchase BEST BETS on game day right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about combination packages through the NBA Playoffs or the Major League All-Star Break, please call us in the office during normal business hours at 1-800-323-4453.

This is going to be a historic series. TV ratings will be through the roof. Las Vegas betting handle should set records, particularly if it goes deep. Will it go deep? Is the dog the steal of a lifetime? Or, is this Golden State Warriors team really as good as analytics and Power Ratings say? Don't try to take any guesses on your own. When championships are on the line, YOU NEED WORLD CHAMPION HANDICAPPER JIM HURLEY!

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