The Western Conference champion has opened as the favorite in 10 of the last 12 NBA Finals, including 2015 with the Golden State Warriors -190 against the Eastern Conference’s Cleveland Cavaliers (+170). However, that favorite status has led to winning the NBA championship just five times over the past dozen years, the last coming in 2014 when the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Miami Heat in five games. In fact, the Spurs won the NBA Finals three times as favorites during that stretch with the Los Angeles Lakers also winning back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010 as chalk.
The Heat are one of only three East teams to win five championships total for the conference dating back to 2004, and they did so twice as underdogs in 2006 against the Dallas Mavericks and in 2012 versus the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Cavaliers are appearing in the NBA Finals for the second time and were massive underdogs when they were swept by San Antonio back in 2007. However, that was the first championship appearance for Cleveland star LeBron James, who will be playing in his fifth straight NBA Finals (the previous four came in Miami). James will be an underdog for the fourth time in six total NBA Finals appearances and has gone 1-2 in that role previously.
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