The moment basketball fans have been waiting for is almost here – the first game of the 2014-15 NBA Finals. On the evening of 4th June 2015 (or the early hours of 5th June in Europe), the Cleveland Cavaliers will face the Golden State Warriors in the opening match of the best-of-seven series.
Basketball betting fans are also eagerly awaiting the first clash between the Cavs and the Warriors. So far, there has been little in the way of surprise in this year's playoffs. Many pundits had predicted that Cleveland and Golden State would reach the finals, regarding them as comfortably the best two teams in the competition. Now the line-up is set in stone, the Warriors are favourites to win the championship at 10/21 with Ladbrokes Sports. LeBron James' Cleveland can be backed at 7/4.
James, arguably the sport's biggest star, is making his fifth straight appearance in the NBA Finals. He has already won the championship twice with the Miami Heat, but never with his beloved Cavaliers, who he rejoined last year. Cleveland fans will be looking to James to spearhead the team's challenge with his outstanding all-around game – the 30-year-old leads the Cavs in points (27.6), rebounds (10.4), assists (8.3) and steals (1.8) per game in the playoffs this year.
William Hill Sports makes James second favourite to be named Finals MVP at 15/8. The main man standing in his way is Golden State's Stephen Curry, the NBA's reigning MVP. Curry's razor-sharp shooting has been instrumental in securing a first finals appearance in 40 years for the Warriors. For many fans, the finals will represent a showdown between an established icon of the NBA and a younger star who is already well on his way to greatness. There are plenty of parallels between James and Curry – both players hail from Akron, Ohio. But Curry is favoured to emerge as the Finals MVP at 1/2 with William Hill Sports.
However, billing the Cavs-Warriors series as a two-man show would be a mistake, given the strong cast of supporting characters. Chief among them is Klay Thompson, one of the players nicknamed the 'Splash Brothers' by Golden State fans (the other is Curry). Thompson, like Curry, is known for his ability to score with three-point shots. The two players have racked up a combined 48.9 points per game during the post-season, which accounts for almost half of the entire team's per-game scoring average. Thompson can be backed at 8/1 with Ladbrokes Sports to emerge as the NBA Finals MVP.
Elsewhere in the betting markets, predicting the series score will be popular. Looking back on recent years, three of the last six NBA Finals – including last year, when the San Antonio Spurs beat Miami – finished with a 4-1 series score. That outcome in favour of the Warriors can be backed at 3/1 with Coral Sports, which prices a 4-1 win for the Cavaliers at 14/1.
It's been a while since we saw a 4-0 series whitewash in the finals. Interestingly, it was the Cavaliers (with a young James in the side) who last tasted such an emphatic defeat – they lost 4-0 to the Spurs in 2007. Coral Sports offers odds of 7/1 that the Cavs are swept away once more this year, while pricing a 4-0 victory for the Ohio-based team at 25/1. Punters can also bet on the number of games the series will include. The NBA Finals went to the full seven games as recently as 2013, when Miami defeated San Antonio 4-3. Coral Sports is offering 2/1 on another seven-game series, which could prove to be good value if the two sides are as evenly matched as some pundits believe.
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