The Golden State Warriors were up 3-1 in the NBA Finals last spring before Draymond Green got suspended, Andrew Bogut got hurt and LeBron James unleashed the full arsenal of his talents to help the Cleveland Cavaliers storm to the title. Both teams look prepared to make it three straight meetings in the Finals and will see each other for the first time in the 2016-17 regular season Sunday when the Cavaliers host the Warriors on Christmas.
Cleveland largely kept its championship team intact and is enjoying a four-game winning streak while leading the Eastern Conference despite losing shooting guard J.R. Smith to a fractured right thumb. “Are we ready to set ourselves up for a seven-game series between us and the Warriors? Hell no,” James told reporters. “Our starting 2-guard is out four months. And we have no sense of entitlement thinking we can even get to a seven-game series. We’re not ready for that. We’ll be as well-prepared as you can be for a regular season game.” The Warriors are a different team but just as deadly with the subtraction of Harrison Barnes and Bogut but the addition of former MVP Kevin Durant. “They’re the best team in the East, and we’re the best team in the West,” Golden State shooting guard Klay Thompson told ESPN.com “We’re both fighting for that home court through the playoffs, so it obviously means something. It’s always good to play the best teams in the league and see where you’re at.”
TV: 2:30 p.m. ET, ABC
LINE HISTORY: The Cavaliers opened this Christmas Day showdown as slight 1.5-point home underdogs and that’s where the number currently sits. The total also hasn’t moved off the opening number of 223.5. Check out the complete line history here.
Golden State – No injuries to report
Cleveland – SG J.R. Smith (late March, thumb), PF Chris Anderson (out for season, knee)
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Warriors (-16) – Cavaliers (-10.1) + home court (-3) = Warriors -2.9
ABOUT THE WARRIORS (27-4 SU, 14-16-1 ATS, 14-17 OU): Golden State beat the Cavaliers in six games in the 2015 NBA Finals and will face Cleveland in a Christmas Day game for the second straight season after winning last year’s game at home. The Warriors come in riding a seven-game winning streak and are thriving behind Durant, who recorded 32 points in 32 minutes at Detroit on Friday and is shooting 61.8 percent from the floor in the last four contests as the team ramps up for its latest showdown with Cleveland. “It’s going to be a fun game,” Golden State’s other MVP, Stephen Curry told reporters. “We’ll enjoy the atmosphere, hopefully get a win and keep it moving.”
ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (22-6 SU, 14-13-1 ATS, 15-13 OU): Cleveland got star power forward Kevin Love back from a knee injury on Friday and used him and the rest of the starters just long enough to shake the rust off before sitting out the entire fourth quarter in a 119-99 drubbing of the Brooklyn Nets. Kyrie Irving, whose 3-pointer in the final seconds of Game 7 proved to be the deciding basket in the series last spring, is looking forward to the rematch. “For us, we’re just going to go out and play our game and have fun,” Irving told reporters. “It’s just a game at the end of the day. We’re playing in the regular season and I know there definitely will be high emotions in both locker rooms. That’s a given. If you’re not getting up for this game – all the great players that will be on the floor at one time – you shouldn’t be in there.”
DANCE TEAM BATTLE:
* Warriors are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 road games.
* Cavaliers are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games following a ATS win.
* Under is 9-1 in Warriors last 10 overall.
* Over is 4-1 in the last 5 meetings in Cleveland.
* Warriors are 1-4 ATS in the last 5 meetings.
Check out a complete list of hot and cold trends, here.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The road Warriors are picking up 62 percent of the early spread wagering on Covers in this rematch of the 2016 NBA finals. The Over is grabbing 52 percent of the totals action. View full consensus data here.