Before the Conference Finals started, the overall consensus was that the Warriors and Cavaliers would advance and meet up in a re-match of last year’s NBA Finals. After all, the better team usually wins in a best of 7 series and both the Cavs and Warriors had home-court advantage over the Raptors and Thunder, respectively. The Cavaliers had just swept the Hawks while the Raptors were coming off two grueling seven game series and missing their starting Center Jonas Valanciunas. And no one was beating 73-win Golden State in a best-of-7 series without home-court advantage.
Then, a funny thing happened: OKC stole Game 1. Then, coming off a game 2 rout at the hands of the Dubs, they eviscerated the defending champs in Game 3. Then, coming off back-to-back routs at the hands of the Cavs, the Raptors evened up the Eastern Conference Finals at 2 games apiece, with an injured JV now waiting in the wings to steal a crucial Game 5 in Cleveland. Could the unthinkable happen? Could we end up having a Thunder-Raptors NBA Finals?
For starters, Golden State opened up as a -450 favorite to advance over the Thunder while the Cavaliers opened up as a -1400 favorite. As it stands, Golden State is still favored at -135, down 2-1, while the series price for the Cavs-Raptors series has yet to be determined, although likely still in the -800 range.
What does this mean? Barring the most historic pair of upsets in NBA Conference Finals history, we are still on course for a Cavs-Warriors NBA finals match-up. Cleveland can (and probably will) still win this series by simply holding serve at home and Golden State has yet to lose 2 games in a row all season long. Should these patterns hold, the WCF will be tied 2-2 after 4 games and the Warriors will have a chance to re-assert their home-court advantage in Games 5 and 7.
It goes without saying that Game 4 tonight will be one of the most important games in NBA history. A lot is on the line for a team that set the all-time regular season wins record, coming off a championship no less, and is in danger of being the most disappointing story in sports since the 2007 Patriots lost Super Bowl XLII (and some would argue that this would be an even more tragic disappointment due to the stark differences between football and basketball playoffs). While no team has a better shot of winning three games in a row than the Warriors, they will be hard pressed to solve Oklahoma City on the road if they have not already done so by now.
Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. Or bet on the Cavs to beat the Thunder in 7 games if you’re feeling lucky.