The NBA conference finals have seen blow out after blow out, but at least LeBron James is winning enough of them to keep everybody interested.
Cleveland went into game six versus Boston needing another James inspired victory to keep their dream of a second championship in three years alive.
He delivered of course, collecting 46 points, the seventh time he’s crossed the two-score mark in this season’s playoffs.
.@KingJames balled out and finished with an all-time performance to force Game 7. ?
?46 PTS | 11 REB | 9 AST pic.twitter.com/ep83MaFIdu
— NBA TV (@NBATV) May 26, 2018
With LeBron James playing at an epoch-defining level, you would think they’d be nailed on in game seven, but you’d be wrong.
Match Odds: Cleveland Cavaliers – 23/20
Essentially, you’re betting on James’ greatness here. The Cavs are 2.5pt underdogs going into Boston as the best player in the game has been dragging a mediocre Cavaliers roster towards a barely deserved fourth consecutive finals appearance. James himself will make it eight finals in a row with a win.
The main hurdle is Boston’s home court form. Through the playoffs they’re undefeated in TD Garden.
They would be even stronger favourites despite the absences of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward if they’d shown more on the road in that run. They’re 1-7 away and have only topped 100 points twice in those eight games, averaging just 94 points.
So how can you back Cleveland?
Put simply, if LeBron is the greatest player of all time, this is where he proves it. I will not bet against him in a situation like this.
Winning Margin: Cleveland Cavaliers 1 – 10 – 2/1
If the Cavs win, the game is going to be tight.
Boston’s defensive effort at home is one of the best in the league. Without their stars they’ve had to become a team that grinds down opponents.
There have been so many double-digit wins in series’ throughout the playoffs, things have to revert to the mean some time, and, if teams don’t up their game in a game seven conference finals decider, when will they?
LeBron’s scored heavily in games Cleveland have lost in this series too, so someone will need to step up to help him. Kevin Love’s ruled out with a concussion, making it tougher still, so one or more of Tristan Thompson, JR Smith, Kyle Korver or George Hill will need to show up here, which would give the Cavs a good chance to sneak this game.
Even if they don’t, you can’t rule out James scoring 65.
LeBron James: Over 37.5pts – 8/11
James has played in 22 elimination games, winning 13 and losing nine. In those games he averages 33 points.
And as he’s getting older, he’s getting better.
In the last seven of these games, he’s scored 40 or more five times.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens has had success in this series limiting the great one in Boston, but it will take a supreme team effort to hold James off here.
Even when he loses, he goes down swinging, so it’s easy to imagine him hitting 45 and the Celtics still holding off the Cavs.