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The vast majority of NBA experts are predicting the Golden State Warriors to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals.
We surveyed 47 experts and only 10 are predicting a Cleveland victory. The other 37 all like Golden State, and the majority of that majority like them in six games. Here’s how a few sports media outlet see the series playing out:
ESPN – 22 of 27 picking the Warriors. Sports Illustrated – 6 of 8 picking the Warriors Bleacher Report – 4 of 4 picking Warriors SB Nation – 7 of 8 picking the Warriors
Taking a look at the more algorithmic approach, both Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight and Microsoft Cortana like the Warriors. FiveThirtyEight gives the Warriors a 69% chance to win the series and a 71% chance to strike first in Game 1. Cortana, meanwhile, gives the Warriors a more modest 65% chance to win Game 1, but didn’t predict the series as a whole.
From a betting perspective, hours before tip-off the Warriors are Vegas favorites to lift the Larry O’Brien trophy for the second consecutive year.
According to OddShark, the Warriors are 5.5-point favorites on their home court tonight, marking the first time all playoffs that the Cavaliers are underdogs. Per Vegas Insider, the Warriors enter the series as a heavy -215 (bet $215 to win $100) favorite, compared to the Cavaliers, who are +180 (bet $100 to win $180).
Among the most prominent NBA writers, almost everyone likes the Warriors. ESPN’s Zach Lowe (recently hailed by Slate as the best sportswriter alive) picks the Warriors in 7, while Howard Beck of Bleacher Report and Lee Jenkins of SI both like the Warriors in 6. ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh picked the Warriors in five, while Tom Ziller of SB Nation strayed from the consensus, picking the Cavs in 6.
Of the 10 experts who favor the Cavs, nine of them like them to win in six games. This makes sense: as we saw with the Thunder, it’s nearly impossible to close out a series away from home, especially during the NBA finals, and especially at Oracle Arena.
Insofar as experts’ predictions tell us anything, the Cavs have a tough task ahead of them. The good news for Cleveland fans is that these predictions come true about as often as they do not.