Predicting the 2015-16 NBA Finals
The conference semifinals are about to come to a close, with Toronto in the East up 3-2 on Miami and the Cavaliers resting after a 4-0 sweep of the Hawks. In the Western Conference, the Warriors sent the Trail Blazers home in five tightly contested games, but the Spurs are in danger of falling to the Thunder, behind 3-2 in their series. With all this drama going on, though, it’s not too soon to make an early sports betting prediction about the NBA Finals.
Predicting the 2015-16 NBA Finals
Oklahoma City will defeat the Spurs — if they do it in Game 6.
The Thunder have already won twice in San Antonio during this series. The only other team to beat the Spurs in their home arena this season was Golden State, who did it when they desperately needed each win down the stretch to hit that number of 73 victories. They have done it with a combination of outstanding offense from their dynamic duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and a suffocating defense. If they bring both of those elements to the gym on Thursday night, they will close the series out.
However, if something happens and they don’t win, and things head back to San Antonio for a Game 7, then I see the Thunder suffering a big mental breakdown and losing that elimination game as well. The Spurs are tough to beat anywhere, and the Thunder have shown a tremendous amount of maturity to take this 3-2 lead. But if they want to take that next step and get to the conference finals, they need to win Thursday.
Golden State will beat either the Spurs or the Thunder.
This team is just unreal right now. Barring another injury, there’s no one else in the West that can deal with them. The Warriors are better on offense than Oklahoma City, and the Spurs haven’t been able to keep up with the Thunder. Steph Curry returned from an injured knee to put up a ridiculous 17 points in overtime in Game 4 against Portland.
Toronto will beat Cleveland in the conference finals.
During the regular season, the Raptors beat the Cavaliers twice, while Cleveland just won once. The home team won all three times, and both games in Toronto were close, while the Cleveland win was a blowout. The problem with the Cavaliers is that they have mental chemistry issues that tend to boil over when they hit real competition. They are a fabulous team, with three fabulous stars in LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. They swept both the Pistons and the Hawks because they had advantages at key matchup points.
But the Raptors have a better defense than either the Pistons or the Hawks. They also have something that the Pistons and Hawks lack — two scoring stars in DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. They can apply mental pressure to the Cavaliers and they have personnel at the right matchup points. LeBron has shown that that sort of stress will cause him to quit beginning way back during his first stint in Cleveland, when he was eliminated in Boston and just stood on the floor, watching the game back and forth. It happened in 2011, when the Mavericks broke the Cavs’ will in the NBA Finals, and it happened again when the Spurs beat the Heat in the Finals, thanks in part to an air conditioning malfunction that sent LeBron to the bench in agony.
Golden State will beat Toronto, but barely.
The Warriors still have an amazing small-ball offense, and the Raptors go through stretches when they simply can’t throw the ball into the ocean. The Raptors will administer a stern defensive test to the Warriors, but unless Curry’s knee or ankle keep him out of action, I don’t think there’s a team in the Association that can beat them four times out of seven.