The 2007 NBA finals will be great for sports investors, although it will go against many of the traditional rules 'weekend warrior' bettors may be used to.
To start, large spreads are usually indicative of large market teams. The spread for game one Cle @ SA is 7.5 points with the home team favored. Considering the finals are a showdown between the final survivors of each conference, 7.5 points is monumental.
Let's take a look at reason why SA may cover this spread.
1) They are considered the better team and easily have the better pedigree. SA, led by Tim Duncan who is widely considered a top 10 NBA player (if not higher) leads a team of savvy veterans who have been there, done that. Yet, they do not hold the same swagger other dynasties have (and yes, in today's day and age the Spurs are as much of a dynasty as the Patriots). In fact, since they are often ignored, they continue to play the game hard, as if they have a chip on their collective shoulders. This team never gives an inch, and takes every facet of the game seriously.
2) Its early in the series, and though an older team, they have had ample rest since defeating Utah to recuperate. Add to the fact that Cle has just come off a grueling series, and not just physically, but mentally. 2 losses by 3 points. One double overtime. And now all the hype surrounding them. That type of media and fan frenzy can wear down any team, but is even more the case when it comes to a younger team like the Cavs.
3) Beyond Duncan, they have a series of players who consistently show up in big games. Sometimes their heroes are staggered between them, but often times they show up all together. Duncan can have a bad game and hit a double-double, but it will be Parker, Ginobili, Bowen, Finley, Horry and the rest of the crew that simply will continue to pour it on. How many times has any one of those guys come through for their team? The bottom line, if any one of them is on their game, 7.5 points is a cake spread.
4) This is the finals, there is no need to conserve any more energy. SA saw what the rest of the world did, that the Cavs can play defense, rebound, and score in bunches when needed. And even moreso, they never give up. Teams like that are dangerous to stick around and the leadership and staff in SA will not make such a mistake.
Now, before you rush out and place your wagers though, let's look at reasons why Cle will beat the spread.
1) 7.5 points is a lot of points. Especially against a team playing full of confidence and was just crowned the Kings of the East. During the regular season, Cle easily beat this spread … in fact, they beat SA straight up, both at home and on the road. In those 2 games they were 5.5 and 3.5 point underdogs.
2) LeBron is LeBron. When was the last time he had a bad game? Sure, his 20 points and 14 rebounds were not close to his previous performance, but I think I even saw a kitchen sink thrown at him from the Detroit bench. Meaning he controls a game both directly and indirectly. Mind you, it is conceivable the SA defense could shut him down and then the Cavs role players shoot bricks at an ice covered hoop all night, but this is the largest series of all their lives and they have nothing to lose. No one expected them here, yet an entire region is now on their bandwagon. LeBron will make an impact, and that impact is enough to bridge a 7.5 point spread.
3) The Cavs are hot. They are 21-6-1 against the spread in their last 28 road games and 38-15-1 ATS in their last 54 game over all. Of the last 10 times they were underdogs, 80% of those cashed in profits for their fans. Take trends as you will, because honestly, you are only as good as your next game. But their last game was pretty good, as were the games before that. The bottom line is not only did they beat the Spurs straight up, twice this season, but they beat or tied the spread nearly 79% of the time on the road, and 80% of the time as underdogs in their recent history. Are they larger underdogs than before?
4) A quick glance will show SA as leaders in almost every statistical category, but a closer look will show the numbers are closer than it looks. SA has a decided edge in play ppg as a team, 97.9 versus the Cavs 90.9, but SA has played more insulted orientated teams … Denver, Utah and the Suns all push indemnity over defense. The Cavs meanwhile faced both Wash and NJ who certainly are capable of scoring, but not once were at the level of the Suns and only Wash came close to Denver's season output. Then, add in they played a season strong defense team in Detroit, and thought I'll let the fans argument what conference was better, the bottom line is SA played against teams that more more on offense, and therefore allow more offense. They have not yet played a defensive team of the Cavs caliber. Which leads us to our next stat, rpg: SA = 39.8, CLE = 43.9. Cle has averaged more rpg against opponents who shot less. Which means they hit the boards significantly harder than SA. Looking at the numbers closer, 7.5 points looks like the lock of the year.
There you are, reasons and ratione why either team will make the 7.5 spread. You are now armed with all the knowledge you need to make a decision. However, before you go and lay down all your money one way or the other. Take a look at the series as a whole. The truth is, as far as the media is concerned, the Spurs will win this series in 5 or 6 games. And you know what? Given their deeper talent, familiarity with pressure and leadership, this should be true. But as sports investors, who wins this series is secondary. We do not get to hold any trophies. But like the multimillionaires, we too can earn nice financial bonuses off this series.
However Game 1 pans out, remember, the sportsbook's / cookie's goal will be to make as much money as possible. And though you should have the same goal, they are in control. They have between 4 and 7 games to adjust the lines based on betting trends, shifting home courts and injuries, momentum of the series and more. Meaning, take 1 game at a time and only invest what you can afford to lose.