The Cleveland Cavaliers suddenly find themselves in a must-win situation down two games to none to the Golden State Warriors in the best-of-seven NBA Finals after cruising to the Eastern Conference title in just 14 games.
Game 3 is set for Wednesday night in Cleveland. And after the Cavaliers opened as slight one-point home favorites with Bovada, the betting public as moved the spread in Golden State's favor as a 1.5-point favorite on the road. The total line for this game is currently set at 205 after being driven down from a 206.5 opening line.
While there are any number of team and player props you can bet on in conjunction with Game 3, I have focused my attention on a pair of alternate betting line props that offer the best value on the board.
2016 NBA Finals Game 3 Alternative Pointspread
The Warriors have won the first two games by a combined 48 points, so it hardly mattered that they closed as six-point home favorites in each contest. There is no denying that they have completely dominated the Cavaliers in every phase of the game, and to make things even more lopsided Golden State's top two scorers (Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson) have not been a real factor in either win.
While the early results of this series paints a pretty bleak outlook for Cleveland, this is still the second-best team in the NBA with guys like LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in the starting lineup. There has to be some concern about the availability of Kevin Love for Wednesday night, but this could actually open the door for someone else on the Cavaliers' roster to make their presence felt in this crucial showdown.
Going with my bold assumption that Cleveland does find some way to make this a series with a strong showing in Game 3, I have decided to stretch the prop bet odds on an alternative pointspread in my favor. You can get Cleveland plus 3.5 points at -165 odds or move the line all the way to plus 5.5 points at -230, but I actually have the Cavaliers winning this game straight up, so I am going in the other direction.
You can really roll the dice and take the Cavaliers minus 6.5 points to earn $215 on a $100 bet, but I am going to back this down to minus 2.5 points for a +115 moneyline return as my top pick. You cannot ignore the fact that Cleveland is 7-0 SU at home in the playoffs with a 6-1 record against the spread as a favorite while Golden State has gone 3-4 both SU and ATS in seven previous road games this postseason.
2016 NBA Finals Game 3 Alternative Total Line
The Cavaliers came into this series averaging more than 106 points per game in the playoffs, but after scoring 89 points in Game 1 they could not even cross the 80-point barrier in a dismal 33-point loss in Game 2. This has caused the total line to fall from 210.5 points in the series opener to 209 points in the second game and now 205 points for Game 3.
I see this as a tremendous opportunity to go with the "over" on a higher total line for Wednesday night's game at much more favorable odds. By stretching the line up to 209.5 points, the return on $100 bet is set at $125.
My main rationale for this prop bet pick is two-fold. First, I cannot see Cleveland coming out completely flat for a third straight game. It would actually be hard for the Cavaliers to shoot the ball any worse than they did the first two games, and James has far too much pride (and talent) to let his team get its doors blown off in front of some very loyal home-town fans.
The other reason I am going this way is league MVP Stephen Curry. After scoring just 11 points in Game 1, he was held to 18 points this past Sunday's win after getting into some early foul trouble. The Warriors did not need a big night from their top player to get either of these wins at home, but I do not see that being the case in front of a very vocal crowd at Quicken Loans Arena.
Read more articles by Dave Schwab
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