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Underdog Cavs Face Uphill Climb

   by ASA - 06/06/2007

The opening lines on the NBA Finals have come out and the Eastern Conference Champion Cleveland Cavaliers are heavy underdogs. Lines have ranged from +350 to +440 as odds-makers are giving the Cavs little chance of upending the three-time champion Spurs.

If recent history has proven any thing, though, it’s that bettors cannot discount Cleveland. Two of the last three NBA Champions – Detroit in 2004 and Miami in 2006 – have come from the supposedly weaker Eastern Conference. Both Detroit and Miami were big underdogs in their respective finals appearances but still came away with series wins.

The most pivotal portion of the NBA Finals will probably come in Games 3 through 5, if it reaches that far. The finals employ a 2-3-2 home schedule with Cleveland hosting the middle three games of the title runs.

The Pistons and Heat combined to go 6-0 SU and 4-2 ATS in those home contests. The Cavs will need to take advantage of their three consecutive home games if they wish to duplicate the Eastern Conference’s recent success.

Dating back to the 2000 Finals in which the Lakers defeated the Pacers 4-2, it has become evident that the underdog’s three home games make or break the dog’s chances of pulling off an upset. Detroit and Miami are the only underdogs to win the title in the last seven years and it all comes down to those middle three games.

In the five years in which the underdog failed to pull of the upset, the underdog managed to pull out a road win over the favorite four times in order to take home-court advantage. Each time, though, the underdog failed to make use of that advantage by losing at least one of those three middle home games. During those five finals, the underdog has gone a combined 5-9 SU and 4-9-1 ATS on their home court.

The Cavs were a very good home team during the regular season with a 30-11 SU record and a 22-19 ATS mark. That success has continued into the postseason, where they are 7-1 SU and 5-3 ATS. If Cleveland wants any chance of beating the lofty odds going against them, it will need to continue its strong home play.

Dwyane Wade led his team to an upset in the NBA Finals last year. Now it’s draft-mate LeBron James’ opportunity to try and do the same … with a little help from the Cavalier faithful.

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