Most sportsbooks are calling the matchup on Thursday night in the NBA between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, the most likely matchup for the NBA Finals this season
Most of the shops following the Derrick Rose injury this week, now consider Cleveland an even heavier favorite to win the Eastern Conference.
According to Bovada and sportsbook.com, the Cavaliers are currently -180 to make the NBA Finals and Chicago had been dropped to +1500. Out West, Golden State is +220 to take that conference title.
A Finals pairing between the Cavaliers and Warriors is currently paying +250. The pairings next highest include Cleveland/Oklahoma City at +650, Cleveland/Memphis at +800 and Atlanta/Golden State at +1000.
That makes the game on Thursday in Cleveland even that more of a big deal.
If bookmakers are correct in this matchup between Cleveland and Golden State does end up being a preview to the championship, this game would be the only reference point for the matchup.
The first head-to-head game between the two teams cannot be used as a comparison since star forward LeBron James did not play for Cleveland.
Golden State was victorious in that game 112-94. Golden State enjoyed an edge of 36-3 in points on the fast break and recorded 35 assists on 43 field goals.
The loss at the time was Cleveland’s fourth straight and the Cavs would eventually lose six straight. However, since James returned from two weeks on the sideline Cleveland is 17-2.
Nevertheless, Golden State is 21-5 over its past 26 games overall and has won 16 of 19 games against Eastern Conference opponents.
One the MVP front, Stephen Curry remains at -300, the overwhelming favorite. James is third at +500, with Houston’s James Harden sitting second at +350 and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook in fourth at +1000.
With the consistency Curry has played with all season and the way his team had taken the West by storm and leading the NBA with the best record overall, it will be hard to un-seed him from the top.
Curry scored 51 points on February 4 and is averaging 28 points per game during the month. He scored 32 on Tuesday night after sitting out a game over the weekend with a sore ankle.
Kyrie Irving is a great defender for Cleveland, but Curry was not fazed the first time they met this season as he scored 23 points, had 10 assists and just one turnover.