Updated NBA Finals Odds: Are the Cavs Now Favorites to Win It All?
It seemed like everyone and their dog picked the Golden State Warriors to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in this year's NBA Finals before they began. Our algorithms agreed, giving the Dubs a 78.76% chance to win it all before the ball was even tossed up on Game 1.
The Cavs were only a LeBron James buzzer-beater or Iman Shumpert put-back at the end of regulation away from stealing that game in Oakland, but the Warriors' eventually prevailed in overtime and the victory pushed their odds of winning the title to a convincing 88.38%. And Cleveland not only lost the game, but they lost Kyrie Irving for the remainder of the series with a busted kneecap.
No one expected the Cavaliers to win another game with the roster they had left, let alone make the series competitive. Then again, they have LeBron James.
The severely depleted Cavaliers shocked the world on Sunday, stealing Game 2 in Oakland in the second consecutive overtime thriller, reducing Golden State's title odds to a still seemingly unbeatable 71.56%.
Then, in last night's Game 3, LeBron and his rag-tag band of misfits and castoffs pulled together to win another game, taking a 2-1 series lead.
Teams that go up 2-1 in the NBA Finals after a 1-1 tie have gone on to win the series 31 out of the 37 occurrences (83.8%). You would think that a 2-1 lead and two games left in Cleveland would finally put the Cavs in the driver's seat, but our algorithm still contests that the Warriors are made of historically good stuff:
Cleveland Cavaliers win in 5: 12.7%
Cleveland Cavaliers win in 6: 22.24%
Cleveland Cavaliers win in 7: 12.05%
Cleveland Cavaliers win series: 46.99%
Golden State Warriors win in 6: 20.6%
Golden State Warriors win in 7: 32.41%
Golden State Warriors win series: 53.01%
That's right, our numbers still say that the Warriors take the title despite the 2-1 deficit, although the margin for error has obviously been significantly reduced. We can simply no longer count out the big three of LeBron James, Matthew Dellavedova, and Tristan Thompson (and maybe we were foolish to ever do so).
A Cavaliers win in Game 4 would mean a 3-1 series lead and inevitably an advantage in title odds per our algorithm for the first time these playoffs. A loss would mean going back to Oakland for two of the final three games and almost certainly reinflated Warriors title odds.
Let's just say that Game 4 will be a must-win for both teams.