The Warriors are a minus-260 series favorite over the Cavaliers (plus-220) in the NBA Finals, which start Thursday at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. Here’s a survey of opinions from Review-Journal staff members, other media, oddsmakers and professional handicappers.
Mark Anderson, Review-Journal: Cavaliers in 6
I see Cleveland stealing one of the first two games in Oakland and clinching at home later in the series.
Bill Bradley, Review-Journal: Cavaliers in 7
LeBron James will play at a high level, but so will Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.
Dave Cokin, ESPN Radio 1100: Warriors in 5
Fully expect the games to be ultra-competitive. But I see Golden State as the superior squad overall.
Joe D’Amico, Aasiwins.com: Cavaliers in 6
Cleveland’s superiority at the forward position, combined with the league’s second-ranked 3-point shooting squad, will give the Cavs their second straight NBA title. Too much physicality and talent inside and out for Golden State to handle.
Todd Dewey, Review-Journal: Cavaliers in 7
History repeats itself, as LeBron James and Kyrie Irving again prove unstoppable, with an assist from a much-improved Kevin Love, and Cleveland wears down the Warriors’ weak interior defense.
Chuck Esposito, Sunset Station sports book director: Cavaliers in 7
Bulletin board material. The Cavs are +200 to win the series. Too much value for LBJ, as the Cavs repeat as champs.
Patrick Everson, Covers.com: Warriors in 5
I can’t see this going seven games, but also can’t see the Warriors winning a Game 6 in Cleveland. So, a motivated Golden State squad in five games.
Doug Fitz, Systemplays.com: Warriors in 6
It’s extremely difficult to win back-to-back titles, so the Warriors exact their revenge, but the Cavs will make them earn it.
Mark Franco, Francosports.com: Warriors in 6
The Warriors are the more talented group, and they are playing with a feverish motivation after the embarrassment of losing last year’s Finals.
Bernie Fratto, Berniefratto.com: Cavaliers in 6
The greatest shooting team in history added … a shooter! But Golden State will miss Andrew Bogut, Harrison Barnes and Marreese Speights as a result. All great rim protectors and help defenders. LeBron and company will repeat, but it won’t be easy.
Ed Graney, Review-Journal: Warriors in 6
My guess is, Steph Curry and his guys are already planning how they are going to mock LeBron on Halloween.
Adam Hill, Review-Journal: Warriors in 4
It’s always nice to see a scrappy team bounce back from a disappointing defeat and find a way to overcome all odds. Nobody believed in this team from Day One, and it will be rewarding to see their miraculous journey end in a championship.
Jay Kornegay, Review-Journal: Warriors in 5
Best team and revenge on their minds make it a shorter than anticipated series.
Allen Leiker, Review-Journal: Warriors in 6
Draymond Green atones for his stupidity in last year’s Finals that cost Golden State its second straight title.
Bryan Leonard, Bleonardsports@cox.net: Warriors in 5
Cleveland allows too many open 3-pointers. The Warriors will make them pay.
Vinny Magliulo, Gaughan Gaming, VSiN: Warriors in 6
The Warriors have advantages with their pace and defense. I also like the added dimension of Kevin Durant.
Ed Malinowski, Stratosphere sports book director: Cavaliers in 6
It’s never wise to bet against the team with the best player on the floor.
Gilbert Manzano, Review-Journal: Warriors in 6
LeBron and company will put up a fight, but they’re no match for the Western Conference All-Stars. Excuse me, Golden State Warriors.
Bruce Marshall, Goldsheet.com: Warriors in 5
LeBron and Co. will not be able to outscore this foe, as Cavs’ defensive shortcomings will be exposed.
Brent Musburger, VSiN host: Warriors in 7
The Cavaliers can hold serve in a Game 6 in Cleveland, but Kevin Durant just adds a little more firepower for Golden State.
Tony Nevill, TI sports book director: Warriors in 6
The difference will be the additional scoring abilities of the Warriors with Kevin Durant. I look for Golden State to withstand foul trouble easier than the Cavaliers.
Wes Reynolds, @WesReynolds1: Warriors in 6
Golden State is known for its offense, but ranked second in defensive efficiency during the regular season and is first in the same category for the postseason.
Micah Roberts, Sportsline.com: Cavaliers in 7
We’ll see something similar to last season, when the Warriors looked to have them outclassed in the first two games with the Cavs playing no defense. But then LeBron and Kyrie take over the rest of the way.
Ed Salmons, Westgate sports book manager: Warriors in 5
Favorites have absolutely dominated this year’s playoffs, and you have by far the best team left in Golden State.
David Schoen, Review-Journal: Warriors in 5
If Draymond Green didn’t punch LeBron James in the junk during Game 4 last year, Golden State would be going for a three-peat.
Jeff Sherman, Westgate sports book manager, Warriors in 6
Both offenses have numerous weapons, but the Warriors’ defense vs. the Cavaliers defense will be the key difference in the series.
Tom Spousta, Review-Journal: Warriors in 6
LeBron might be playing great, but it won’t matter. Kevin Durant makes the difference and finally gets his bling.
Brett Steidler, Review-Journal: Warriors in 5
This Golden State team didn’t win 73 games, but Steph Curry is healthy, Draymond Green (probably) won’t be suspended and the new guy, Durant, is quite a bit better than Harrison Barnes. Even LeBron will need some luck to steal more than one game in this series.
Kelly Stewart, @Kellyinvegas: Warriors in 6
Warriors are clearly the more dominant team. Cleveland might snag one on the road, but I doubt it.
Paul Stone, @paulstonesports: Warriors in 6
Kevin Durant shines on the championship stage, as he proves to be too much to handle for the defensively challenged Cavaliers.
Ken Thomson, Sportsxradio.com: Cavaliers in 7
The acquisitions of Kyle Korver and Deron Williams will pay dividends depth-wise, while Tristan Thompson dominates the glass. LeBron is still the best player in the world, and he will get his back-to-back titles with his home-state team.
Mal Van Valkenburg, Review-Journal: Warriors in 6
Golden State has even more firepower this year, and it will be tough for Cleveland to pull off four victories.
Matt Youmans, VSiN.com editor: Warriors in 7
A year after the Warriors’ wheels fell off in Games 5, 6 and 7, Kevin Durant makes the difference in another series that goes the distance.
Total: Warriors 24, Cavaliers 9