The 2016 NBA Finals is a match-up between the preseason favorite in the East and the preseason favorite in the West. It’s also a rematch from last year, which everyone was predicting as soon as the 2015 Finals wrapped up. That makes it sound like both teams have had an easy path to the championship, but nothing could be further from reality.
The Cleveland Cavaliers were expected to dominate the East from wire to wire. The talent of the “Big 3” (LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love) dwarfs the competition and few thought anyone could seriously challenge the Cavs. However, internal struggles made Cleveland vulnerable throughout the first half of the season. No one questioned the ability, but many started to think they were ripe to be an upset victim in the postseason.
Ultimately, head coach Dave Blatt was made the fall guy. Since then, LeBron James (er, Tyronn Lue) has been calling the shots and the Cavs have been living up to expectations. Cleveland rolled through the first three-rounds of the playoffs, going 12-2. Unlike last year’s finals, when they limped in with a “Big 1,” they are now healthy and peaking at the right time.
The Western Conference had three excellent teams expected to battle for supremacy. However, the Golden State Warriors became the clear leader of the pack and finished with an NBA-record 73 wins, putting themselves squarely into the “greatest ever” conversation. Despite the West being tough, the Warriors were expected to get it done in the playoffs.
However, once the postseason started, Golden State looked like a tired unit and the two-time reigning MVP Stephen Curry came up gimpy. The Warriors defeated the Rockets and Trail Blazers, both in five games, despite not giving their best effort. Then, in the Western Conference Finals, Golden State found itself down three games to one to the surging Oklahoma City Thunder. It looked like the dream season would come to a premature end.
Then Curry and company found their magic, rallying from double-digit deficits in Game 6 and 7 to capture the West. This is now a healthy team with a ton of momentum.
So now we have the heavyweight favorites squaring off for the championship. Two great teams, led by the two greatest players of this generation. Stephen Curry and LeBron James are playing for another ring and, in doing so, they’re elevating their careers to the next level. They’re entering the “greatest ever” conversation, themselves.
As a fan, all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the greatness. But if you want an early preview of what to expect, check out my odds for this historic match-up, along with the future of the still-budding Curry vs James rivalry.
2016 NBA Finals Odds and Props
Odds to win the NBA Finals:
Golden State Warriors: 1/2
Cleveland Cavaliers: 2/1
Odds the series goes …
5 Games: 7/3
6 Games: 7/3
7 Games: 3/1
4 Games: 6/1
Yes, the Warriors crushed the Cavs in Cleveland during the regular season. But the Cavs have yet to lose at home in the playoffs. Don’t expect a sweep.
Odds to win the NBA Finals MVP:
Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors): 1/1
LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers): 7/3
Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors): 12/1
Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors): 15/1
Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers): 18/1
Sorry Andre Iguodala, I’m very much doubting your ability to repeat, as is everyone else.
Odds to lead the NBA Finals in points-per-game:
Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors): 3/2
LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers): 3/1
Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors): 4/1
Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers): 9/1
Kevin Love (Cleveland Cavaliers): 20/1
Odds to get suspended during the NBA Finals:
Draymond Green: 7/2
Anyone else: 6/1
O/U for total number of technical fouls in the NBA Finals: 3
O/U for total number of flagrant fouls in the NBA Finals: 0.5
This is basically an o/u on flagrants for Draymond.
Odds either head coach (Tyronn Lue or Steve Kerr) is not with the same team next year: 5/1
Odds on which head coach will be fired first:
Tyronn Lue (Cleveland Cavaliers): 1/3
Steve Kerr (Golden State Warriors): 3/1
But it shouldn’t be anytime soon for either one.
Odds to be playing for a different team next year:
LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers): 4/1
Kevin Love (Cleveland Cavaliers): 8/1
Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers): 15/1
Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors): 15/1
Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors): 20/1
Draymond Green (Cleveland Cavaliers): 20/1
Odds of a brawl during the NBA Finals: 12/1
Last time I checked, the artist formerly known as Ron Artest wasn’t on either roster.
Odds of a fan streaking the court during the NBA Finals: 25/1
Odds of reaching the 2017 NBA Finals:
Cleveland Cavaliers: 6/5
Golden State Warriors: 3/2
Odds of a third straight Golden State vs. Cleveland matchup in the 2017 NBA Finals: 9/2
Stephen Curry vs LeBron James Props
Odds to win more career NBA titles:
LeBron James: 3/2
Stephen Curry: 7/3
James currently has two. Curry has one. But Curry has a good chance to even things this season and has more years left, barring injuries.
Odds to win more career regular season MVP awards:
LeBron James: 3/7
Stephen Curry: 9/1
James has the edge (4-2) right now. He’s still playing at an MVP level, too. He’s finished third in the voting each of the last two years. If Curry has any drop off in his play, LeBron could find himself with a fifth very easily.
Odds to win more career NBA Finals MVPs:
LeBron James: 1/4
Stephen Curry: 15/1
James again leads by two (2-0). As last year showed, Curry is no shoo-in for the award even if GS wins. This team is DEEP.
Odds to win more career NBA scoring titles:
Stephen Curry: 11/9
LeBron James: 20/1
Both guys have one right now, and both are likely to be surrounded by very good teammates for the remainder of their careers. That means the wealth will be spread around. The James Hardens and Kevin Durants of the world could snag up the next half dozen scoring titles even with Curry and James playing their best.
Odds to hold more individual NBA records at the end of their career:
LeBron James: 1/4
Stephen Curry: 4/1
Odds to acquire more new endorsements in the future:
Stephen Curry: 1/3
LeBron James: 3/1
James is the undisputed King. But Curry’s stock is still on the rise.
Odds to have more film roles/credits in their career:
LeBron James: 1/5
Stephen Curry: 5/1
James has already started dabbling in the thespian arts, and he’s set to star in the new Space Jam!
Odds a LeBron James statue is built outside the Cavs’ arena: 1/1
If he ceremoniously bails on the city again, they’ll build one just so they can tear it down.
Odds a Stephen Curry statue is built outside the Warriors’ arena: 13/10
He’s already a civic hero, but a lot can happen in the remainder of his career.
Odds James and Curry play on the same team for at least one season: 20/1
This doesn’t count the possibility of them teaming up against the Monstars.
(Featured photo credit: Matthew Addie (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode].)