It was much more than a basketball game. It was pro wrestling-style entertainment, with all sorts of theatrics and threats of fights. Kevin Durant and LeBron James, the biggest stars of the promotion, traded words in a heated moment.
The Golden State Warriors were denied history Friday, when their run at 16-0 in the playoffs fell one win short. It was a memorable night in Cleveland nonetheless.
Now, it’s back to California. There’s something to look forward to Monday. Another NBA Finals game means tens of millions of dollars to the league and its TV partners, while bookmakers and bettors welcome what might be the last big wagering event of the summer.
Instead of a sweep, there will be a Game 5 in Oakland.
“I wouldn’t mind seeing the Cavaliers win, but they are in a tough spot,” South Point oddsmaker Jimmy Vaccaro said.
The Warriors, who won the first two games at home by a total of 41 points, are 8½- to 9-point favorites. Remember when these teams played low-scoring games? The total is 231½.
“I believe this will be a monster side. I think it will be all favorite and ‘over’ in the parlays,” said Vaccaro, who projects the total to close at 233.
Golden State is a 20-1 favorite to win the championship — in five, six or seven games — and Durant is in position to be Most Valuable Player of the series.
James and the Cavaliers delivered a determined effort Friday to extend the soap opera and the camera time for the Kardashian sisters.
There is plenty to reflect upon from a bizarre Game 4. Cleveland scored 49 points in the first quarter and an absurd 86 points in the first half en route to its 137-116 victory.
James recorded a triple-double (31 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists) and threw the ball off the backboard to himself for a dunk over Durant before getting into an animated argument with the Golden State star.
Cleveland made a Finals-record 24 3-pointers — the proposition for the teams’ combined made 3s was 25½.
The Warriors’ Draymond Green was seemingly ejected for drawing a second technical foul, but he stayed in the game after one of several officiating fiascos. He topped off his night by taunting and insulting Cleveland fans.
The Cavaliers’ Iman Shumpert was elbowed in the face by Green and hit in the groin area by Warriors center Zaza Pachulia.
There were some Golden State fans (and bettors) who claimed the fix was in, yet the Warriors shot 36 free throws to the Cavaliers’ 31. Durant made 15 free throws on his way to 35 points.
Stephen Curry stunk, hitting only 2 of 9 3-pointers, and barely seemed to care.
Kyrie Irving dribbled circles around Curry, sank seven 3s and scored 40 points. Kevin Love and J.R. Smith combined for 11 made 3s.
“The Cavs played a perfect game,” Westgate sports book manager Jeff Sherman said. “I can’t imagine the 3-point shots are going to fall like that in the next game.”
Golden State is a minus-350 favorite in Game 5, which looms as the end of the road for the Cavaliers.
Still, noting that James has won a road game in 29 consecutive series, VSiN host Mitch Moss posted on Twitter: “BIG if, but IF the Cavs can win game 5 in Oakland, this baby is going 7 games.”
The prop on the Warriors’ perfect postseason was shot down. All that matters now is the title, and bet on Durant getting the final say.
NBA Game 5 propositions
(Posted at Westgate sports book)
Largest lead of the game by either team: 19.5 (over/under -110)
Total 3-point field goals made by both teams: 26.5 (over/under -110)
Will the team that wins the first quarter win the game? Yes -200; No plus-175
Points scored by LeBron James: 33.5 (over/under -110)
Total rebounds and assists by James: 20.5 (over/under -110)
Free throws made by James: 6.5 (over -130)
Points scored by Kyrie Irving: 27.5 (over/under -110)
Points scored by Stephen Curry: 28.5 (over/under -110)
Points scored by Kevin Durant: 31.5 (over/under -110)
Total points, rebounds and assists by Draymond Green: 27.5 (over/under -110)