The Cavaliers Haven't Been Favored for a Single Second of the NBA Finals
The Warriors won the first two games in Oakland by a total of 41 points. Over the 96 minutes played over those two contests, Cleveland spent only 6:16 with the lead (early in both games), the two teams were tied for 4:11, and the Warriors led for a whopping 85:33 of game time. The Cavaliers haven’t even led for a single second beyond the opening frame of either game.
And our win probability graphs -- via numberFire Live -- for both games show the story of one team completely outplaying the other.
Here’s Game 1:
The Warriors opened Game 1 as 77.01% favorites to win, and the closest Cleveland ever got to flipping the script was when a Kyrie Irving jumper made the score 12-8 in favor of the Cavs at the 7:15 mark in the first quarter. At that point, the Cavaliers win probability peaked at 33.08%.
By the time a Stephen Curry three pushed the lead to 73-52 in favor of Golden Stat with 8:07 to go in the third quarter, the Warriors were already 97.40% favorites to win the game and never really looked back.
Game 2 was more of the same:
The Warriors opened Game 2 as strong 80.82% favorites. The Cavaliers’ win probability peaked even earlier in this one, when a LeBron James defensive rebound at the 9:44 mark in the first quarter pushed their win probability to 32.82% with an 11-6 lead and over 95% of the game left to be played.
LeBron then missed a layup, and the Warriors once again remained the heavy favorite throughout, hitting a 92.13% win probability as early as the 8:41 mark of the third quarter.
And with that, the closest the Cavaliers have come to being favored to win even a game in this series was when they had a 12-8 lead and 33.08% win probability not even halfway through the first quarter of Game 1.
Suddenly, a series we were once trying to convince ourselves could be competitive looks all but over.
Teams that go up 2-0 in a playoff series in the NBA have an all-time record of 262-18 (.936), including a 28-4 (.875) mark in the Finals. Of course, of those few teams that have come back, few were facing a team as dominant as these Warriors, who are making a serious case to be considered the best team ever assembled.
As far as our algorithms are concerned, the Warriors now have a 92.64% chance of winning the title, and a their chances of doing so in a sweep -- and thus completing a historically unprecedented 16-0 playoff run -- now sit at 31.17%.
If they can pull that off, their “best team ever” case might not even be much of a debate.