Despite plenty of evidence to the contrary over the past two games of the 2016 NBA Finals, Las Vegas still favors the Golden State Warriors over the Cleveland Cavaliers in Sunday's Game 7.
LeBron James and the Cavaliers erupted over the past two games of the series, winning 112-97 and 115-101 to rally out of a 3-1 hole and stand on the cusp of history.
It's the headline act in quite the interesting set of odds going into a historic occasion. For bettors who are looking to end the NBA season with a bang, it's worth taking a long, hard look at the remaining lines.
2016 NBA Finals Game 7
When: Sunday at 8 p.m. ET
Where: Oracle Arena, Oakland, California
Live Stream: ESPN Player
Congratulations go out to those who banked on this one going to seven games, even after the Warriors jumped out to a commanding 3-1 advantage.
According to Stephen Campbell of Odds Shark, the odds the series lasted seven games were 2-1. It wasn't the impressive 21-10 odds of the series ending in six, but making coin as opposed to losing it sure feels good on something as important as the Finals.
Now bettors need to decide on this team-based prop:
|Cleveland in Seven||8-1|
|Golden State in Seven||6-1|
As mentioned, Las Vegas sees only a five-point margin in Game 7, which is interesting because each game in the series so far has been a blowout.
Golden State took the first two games of the series, rolling off the momentum of climbing out of a 3-1 hole of their own in the Western Conference Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Game 3 went to Cleveland, which wasn't much of a shock because Golden State wound up losing every Game 3 of its postseason. It was back to business as usual in Game 4, a 108-97 Warriors triumph behind 38 points from Curry.
Then something changed.
The Cavaliers have cruised over the past two contests, with James scoring 41 points each time out and throwing a wrench in the MVP conversation, much as he did last year.
James, though, hasn't wanted anything to do with the conversation going into Sunday's contest.
"Last time I answered the question about MVP, it didn't go that well for me, so I'm not going to do it," James said, according to ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin. "Yeah, I'm not going to do it. I'm not going to do it again. I'm not. I will not."
Barring an out-of-nowhere ordeal, it seems the individual hardware will go to either Curry or James, depending on which guy's team hoists the Larry O'Brien Trophy.
For those interested in more individual props, though, you can pick the top scorer for the series:
For context, Kyrie Irving has totaled 164 points; James sits on 181, while Curry has 141. This one, at least, looks like it belongs to James no matter how the series pans out.
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It's hard to argue much with oddsmakers on this one.
LeBron has been great—no, transcendent. But is it sustainable? Can the guy who has played north of 40 minutes in all but one game in the series keep up such a superb level of play one last time on the road?
It's hard to say, but bettors should keep in mind an important stat brought up by ESPN's John Buccigross:
Pair this with the fact the Warriors haven't done much wrong over the last two losses outside of miss shots. They're still the same team that just came back from a 3-1 deficit against the Thunder, still the defending champions and still the 73-win team.
It would explain why head coach Steve Kerr sounded confident in a recent interview with the Associated Press' Josh Dubow.
"But you get a couple of days, you kind of take stock," Kerr said. "You think about where we are. We like our positioning. We like our chances. And we're at home with a chance to win the championship. You can't ask for much more than that."
If the biggest landmarks of the past two games have been superhuman performances by James and shoddy shooting by the Warriors (36.4 percent from the floor in Game 5, 40.2 in Game 6), bettors can safely gamble on these developments turning around.
Count on the locale and Golden State's experience to win out, and in respectable fashion too, given the prior six results.
Prediction: Warriors 118, Cavaliers 110