There are no two better words in sports than “game seven” and that goes doubly true for Sunday’s contest between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers (8pm ET). That’s because, given the way this series began, no one expected a seventh and deciding game.
So it all comes down to this, and here is our NBA Finals Game 7 preview with predictions and betting picks’ advice.
Opening up the series as the defending champions and 73-win NBA record breaking team, Golden State looked every bit the part. Despite getting only minimal production from the league’s first ever unanimous MVP, Steph Curry, and his Splash Brothers mate, Klay Thompson, the Warriors won with excellent defense and step-up bench production. Game 1 went in favor of the home team by a more than impressive 25 points.
It didn’t look promising for the Cavaliers losing by so much, especially since both Curry and Thompson were held to below 30 points between them. But Game 2, despite again limiting both Thompson and Curry, to just a playoff-low and third low of his season 11 points, was no better for Cleveland. The Warriors came out on top by 33 points and no one was even talking about a Game 7. In fact, many people were ready to call the series then and there as Cavaliers’ star forward LeBron James was even forced to admit that the team simply had no answers for Cleveland’s offense.
Going back to Cleveland seemed to be more about saving face than it was about giving the Cavaliers any prospect of winning the series. It was quite simply a must-win and to their credit, Cleveland came up big time. The Cavaliers held the Warriors to just 90 points, which again was among their playoff lows. And the Cavs scored 120, their series high. It was a full team effort and one that kept the Cavaliers with their heads above water.
Then in Game 4 the narrative returned to the Warriors. They were just one game away from winning their second title in a row and capping off what would be the greatest season in NBA history. It was the lowest margin of victory of the series, just 11 points, but still Golden State came up on top thanks to Curry’s 38 points, including 7-of-13 from three point range. It had seemed that the MVP was ready to take over the series and headed back to Oracle Arena, there was little doubt that Golden State was headed home to lock things up.
In Game 5 however, with their backs pressed firmly against the wall, Cleveland fought back in a big way. For the first time in LeBron James’ extensive playoffs and finals history, he scored 40+ points alongside that of a teammate. James and Kyrie Irving, who had been a key reason why the Cavaliers were able to win Game 3, combined for a massive 82 points. James added 11 assists and eight rebounds to his line as well. The Cavaliers won by 15 points.
This pattern of dominance continued in Game 6 as the Cavaliers, back home, led wire-to-wire including at one point, by 24 points. The Warriors did manage to close the gap several times, but there was no denying the better team. Defensively, the Warriors were outmatched even with Draymond Green back from his suspension. For the first time all season Curry, who had 30 points, fouled out of the game and the frustration was clear.
So now, it is the Warriors who have their backs against the wall. The Cavaliers have not only gotten James and Irving as hot as they have been all season, but they’ve found a way to stop Golden State’s offense. That is something that plagued Cleveland over the course of the first two games of the series.
It has been a tale of two series, the one dominated by the Warriors in the first three of four games and the one dominated by the Cavaliers in the last two. Game 7 is the last chance for both teams to etch their names into the record books and to cement their legacies. It is certain that whichever team returns to form will be the one holding the trophy at the end of the night.
Will it be Cleveland, who have found a way to best the Warriors small lineup despite Kevin Love being a non-factor? Golden State started their so-called Lineup of Death, the lethal squad that helped the team win in Game 6 of last year’s finals. However, this year, the Cavaliers destroyed that line-up and seemed to have answers for everything. For the first time all season a team managed to frustrate Curry to the point of missed shots, bad looks and, as I mentioned, the six personal fouls.
It is hard to believe that the best team in the country won’t find a way to adjust or that Cleveland will be able to play Curry to such perfection the way they did in Game 6. Of course, injuries to Andrew Bogut and for part of Thursday’s loss, Andre Iguodala, helped the Cavaliers execute their game plan. Sticking Harrison Barnes (pictured) and making him a non-factor has been critical as well. Barnes is a 38 percent three point shooter but in Game 6, the amount of open looks he missed was shocking.
Steve Kerr is going to have to seriously dig deep to find the answers but the most important thing the Warriors can do is put games five and six in the rearview mirror. There is a lot to fix and little time to figure it out. Unfortunately for the Warriors, Cleveland has them figured out and the team that lost by 55 points in the first two games is long gone.
Our Preview’s Cleveland Cavaliers vs Golden State Warriors Game 7 Betting Picks Verdict
So, can Golden State somehow find a way to come out on top? According to the USA sportsbooks, that answer is ‘yes’ as the Warriors are somewhat of a surprising 4.5 point favorites for Sunday’s Game 7.
This spread reflects the crucial role being home with play and the fact that all it takes is one game for Curry and Thompson to return to their status as the best duo in the league. They have been outplayed by Irving and James thus far but the thing about the Warriors is, they are way too talented to expect they’ll be kept down for long.
There is a reason this team only lost nine regular season games, even if they have lost six of their last 13. They don’t have to be hot; they just have to play their style, something the Cavaliers have been doing better than them. But with Game 7 at home, it’s hard to believe the Cavaliers attacking will have the same level of impact and it’s hard to believe Curry won’t take over the game like this series has been demanding him to. So our preview’s concluding betting picks are:
- Bet on the Warriors -4.5pts @ -115 betting odds with Bovada Sportsbook to win back-to-back NBA titles. It is -5pts with 5Dimes, BetOnline and Bookmaker @ -110.
- As for the total game points in this NBA Finals Game 7 decider, take the over 206.5pts @ -110 with 5Dimes Sportsbook, BetOnline or Bookmaker. Bovada go over 207.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.