Bettors on NBA Finals backing underdog Cavaliers in Las Vegas

ByDavid Purdum ESPN logo
Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Golden State Warriors are the favorites to win the NBA Finals, but bettors in Las Vegas have been more interested in backing LeBron James and the underdog Cleveland Cavaliers.

Eighty percent of the action at the Westgate SuperBook was on Cleveland as of Wednesday. The story was the same at William Hill. At the Wynn, the bigger bets were on the Cavs. The MGM sportsbook was anticipating a six-figure wager to add to a growing number of five-figure bets already placed on Cleveland.

"It's been a steady stream of Cleveland money," Craig Barmazel of the MGM Mirage said

The Warriors opened as high as minus-270 favorites over the Cavaliers when the Finals matchup was finalized last week. The price had dipped all the way down to minus-220 at some books as of Wednesday morning and could continue to fall leading up to Game 1.

All of the early action at the SuperBook was from public bettors, but that could change Thursday.

"We haven't taken any wagers from [respected bettors]," SuperBook assistant manager Jeff Sherman said Wednesday morning. "But I've heard that they're looking for Golden State at $2 (minus-200) or 210."

John Avello, executive director of the Wynn sportsbook said the biggest bets on the series he'd taken as of Wednesday afternoon were in the $25,000 range.

"There are big bets on both sides, but more of them on Cleveland," Avello said. "That's because you're getting the best player in the world [James] at a plus."

Golden State is a 6-point favorite in tonight's Game 1 (9 p.m. ET, ABC) at most sportsbooks, with the over/under total sitting at 202.5. As of Wednesday at William Hill, 63 percent of the money wagered was on the underdog Cavaliers, but the bulk of the action will be placed Thursday.

The teams split their two regular-season meetings, with each team winning on its home floor. The Cavs beat the Warriors 110-99 as 3-point favorites on Feb. 26 in Cleveland. The Warriors defeated Cleveland 112-94 as 13.5-point favorites on Jan. 9 at Oracle Arena. James did not play in that game.

The most likely exact series result at sportsbook operator CG Technology is the Warriors winning in five games at odds of plus-270. More bets have been placed on the Warriors winning in six games at 4-1 than any other possible outcome. A Cavaliers sweep pays 20-1.

"We took a $300 bet on Cavs in a sweep," CG Technology vice president of race and sports Jason Simbal said.

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