NBA Finals 2017: Odds, Props, Score Prediction for Cavaliers vs. Warriors Game 4

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistJune 9, 2017

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) defends Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) during the second half of Game 3 of basketball's NBA Finals in Cleveland, Wednesday, June 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Tony Dejak/Associated Press

One game stands between the Golden State Warriors and NBA history. 

Ditto for the Cleveland Cavaliers and questions about pride and the future.

The vibe going into Game 4 of the NBA Finals Friday at 9 p.m. ET at Quicken Loans Arena isn't hard to figure out. As much as some might want to raise a finger and suggest talking about the 3-1 comeback a year ago, this simply doesn't feel like anything close to a potential rehash of the epic.

Oddsmakers out of Las Vegas certainly don't like the idea. According to OddsShark, the line opened as the host Cavaliers favored by two, then violently whipped to a 6.5-point advantage for the Warriors, the team hunting for the first 16-0 mark in playoff history. The best moneylines don't do the Cavaliers any favors either, not with Golden State holding a -225 advantage (bet $225 to win $100) versus the best Cleveland (+205) line.

Not that this should shock bettors at all—this series has consistently come down to bettors needing to decide whether the Warriors will cover the spread in a victory. Stephen Campbell of OddsShark noted the series-long odds going into Game 3, where Golden State (-1100) had a big advantage over Cleveland (+650) and there isn't any reason to go against the grain now, good payout or not.

Game 3 didn't do much to dispel the narrative surrounding this series, even if Kevin Durant needed to hit a big shot late to steal the lead and victory. Look at it this way—LeBron James played 46 minutes, scored 39 points and added 11 rebounds and nine assists for good measure.

He still lost 118-113 at home to go down 3-0.

There's almost something fundamentally wrong about the above, but it makes a pretty cut-and-dry case for bettors. Golden State isn't going to drop a game if it can laugh off a King like that, which is what happens when Cleveland's bench only scores 11 points and the Warriors win key areas such as rebounding (44-37) and assists (29-17), not to mention shoot 48.5 percent from deep.

Durant doesn't sound like a guy who will permit the Warriors to succumb to the comeback like they did a year ago, either. 

"I never been in this position before," Durant said after Game 3, according to the Associated Press (via ESPN.com). "I don't want to relax. It's not over. This is a crazy game. Anything can happen. So I don't want to relax or feel like it's over; it's not."

Durant carried the Warriors through the first two games while giving the Cavaliers fits, though the most recent affair saw Stephen Curry pitch in 26 points and Klay Thompson come out of hibernation for 30 to Durant's 31.

No matter what happens Friday, though, Durant is the clear-cut favorite for MVP. Over these Finals, he's averaging 34.0 points, 10.3 boards and 6.0 assists per game while shooting 56.1 percent from the floor and 52.4 percent from range.

Per Campbell, the notable MVP candidates are as follows, and it isn't really close:

  • Kevin Durant (-250)
  • Stephen Curry (+225)
  • LeBron James (+900)
  • Draymond Green (+1600)

ESPN Stats & Info provided further proof Durant is the runaway winner here: 

The Cavaliers won't go down at home without a fight, but there's something off here. LeBron averages a triple-double through three games (32.0 points, 12.3 rebounds, 10.3 assists) and finds himself in a 3-0 hole.

James simply isn't getting help. He's gassed by the fourth quarter of each game because nothing on the defensive end of the court is helping him stop Durant. He might deflect suggestions of his late-game exhaustion, but it's apparent to onlookers—and the opposition.

Check what Draymond Green had to say after Game 3, per NBA TV:

This is the biggest reason the Cavaliers won't extend the series Friday night. In Game 3, Kyrie Irving scored 38 points, but Kevin Love only managed nine on 1-of-9 shooting. The bench went 3-of-14 from the floor and 2-of-11 from deep, once again getting crushed by Golden State's second unit.

James isn't shy about the fact he doesn't seem allowed to take rest at all or put an entire game at risk.

"I don't know the answer to that right now," James said, according to USA Today's Jeff Zillgitt. "Obviously, I hate the fact that we're not able to just try to keep the leads, and if I come out of the game or not, even keep the leads, just sustain it. I hate it for my teammates. I hate it for myself. I hate it for everybody that's involved."

Durant simply creates too many ripple-effect problems. Love isn't exactly a stranger to struggling against the Warriors, and Irving hasn't been his usual self. The gross disparity in assists flaunts the borderline archaic iso ball the Cavaliers keep trying to use in an effort to impose their will, but it's clearly not going to work on these Warriors.

The spread here is a little trickier to navigate than usual in this series because there is an element of desperation on Cleveland's side at home with backs against the wall. But one has to think sheer exhaustion on the part of the team's heavy lifters might kick in and make this big spread seem justified in hindsight.

Good payout with the underdogs or not, the safe avenue is banking on Durant to continue creating nightmares the Cavaliers can't handle while a fatigued James fades slightly. Golden State's hot shooting didn't stop on the road, so don't expect it to change now.

The broader implications of a Golden State sweep on the NBA itself aren't easy to figure out—but the Warriors have sure made this easy on bettors.

Prediction: Warriors 124, Cavaliers 101

            

All stats and info via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified. Odds via OddsShark