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Playoff Journal, June 5

   by Larry Ness - 06/05/2016

Playoff Journal (June 5)

The “Splash Brothers” combined for just 20 points in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, as neither All Star was able to find his range (duo shot a combined 8 of 27 or 29.6 percent, including 4 of 13 or 30.8 percent from three-point range). However, the Warriors did not even need their two biggest stars to flatten the Cavs in a 104-89 Game 1 victory. Shaun Livingston made 8 of 10 FGs while scoring a playoff career high 20 points, as he led the way for a Golden St bench which outscored the Cleveland reserves by a WHOPPING 45-10 margin!

The Cavs opened the 2016 postseason with 10 consecutive wins before losing Games 3 and 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Toronto. However, the team rebounded nicely with dominating 116-78 and 113-87 wins in Games 5 and 6. After the Warriors fought back from a 3-1 deficit to win their series against the Thunder, the two teams were headed for an NBA Finals rematch. LBJ dragged an injury-riddled Cleveland team along with him for six games in last year’s matchup but a fully healthy Cavaliers team didn’t seem any more capable of defeating the Warriors in Game 1 Thursday night, than did last year’s depleted unit .

LBJ and ALL the Cavs are well aware of the ‘whispers’ which say “The Cavs were able to cruise through the inferior Eastern Conference all season AND in the postseason to-date. They haven't really been tested.” Now everyone is anxious to see how the Cavaliers will respond after they took a ‘body blow’ in Game 1. LBJ had 23 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists in Game 1 but committed four turnovers. "When you're outscored 45-10 in bench points and give up 25 points off turnovers, you're not winning that game," James told reporters after the game. The Cavaliers are averaging 13.9 made three-pointers in the playoffs (most of any postseason team) but went 7-of-21 (33.3%) from beyond the arc in Game 1.

Golden State held the Cavaliers to 38.1 percent from the floor and only turned the ball over nine times in Game 1. Just ONE of those turnovers came from the reserves, as Iguodala, Livingston and Barbosa combined to shoot 18-of-24 from the floor (75%) to pick up the slack for Curry and Thompson. “Regardless of how the night’s going shooting for me or Klay, we definitely get a boost when our bench guys come in and change the game,” Curry told reporters. “We rely on that pretty much every night, whether it’s 45 points off the bench or just playing aggressive and continuing what we start.”

This year’s Finals features each conferences No. 1 seed, something which hasn’t happened since the Celtics beat the Lakers in the 2008 Finals. However, almost NO ONE considers the Cavs the NBA’s second-best team. Can Cleveland change the narrative? If so, the Cavs are almost in a a “must-win” situation here in Game 2. Game 1 winners have gone on to capture 22 of the last 32 NBA Finals and under the 2-3-2 format (adopted in 1985), the team with the home court edge is 24-7 (77%). Just ONE team in this format has lost first two games of Finals, then come back to win series. The Mavs won the first two games of 2006 Finals at home vs Heat and then had a 13-point lead with about six minutes to go in Game 3 in Miami. However, the Heat rallied to win 98-96 in Game 3 and then won the next three games as well, to take the series 4-2 (four straight wins). Talk about a choke job by Dallas!

Game 2 tips at 8:00 ET on ABC and checking in on the postseason numbers to-date, home teams are 55-25 SU (.688) and 49-31 ATS (61.3%). Forty-nine of the 80 games have stayed under (same 61.3%) and those following the Zig-Zag theory are 33-32, which is minus-2.2 net games (will have the Cavs tonight). Golden St is favored by points.

My next journal will be available Wednesday by 12 noon ET.

Good luck...Larry

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