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June 7, 2015 (Posted at 12:00 PM ET)

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Take the UNDER 201 total points in Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Golden State risking 3% of bankroll.

It's Game 2 of the NBA Finals from Oracle Arena tonight. The opener was a spectacular back and forth contest with the Warriors finally edging out the Cavs 108-100 in overtime to take Game 1 of the series. Kyrie Irving suffered another injury during Game 1 and has been ruled out of this contest. While Irving is no doubt an integral piece of the Cavaliers offense, his absence makes predicting who covers the spread an extremely daunting task. We feel that there isn't much value on either side in this contest. We believe the true value in this matchup lies in the total. 

The Cleveland Cavaliers managed to take an early lead in Game 1, going up by as many as 15 points in the first quarter, but saw first-hand just how potent the Warriors offense can be and Golden State rallied back to close the gap at the half to just 3 points. After being outscored 10-2 in overtime in Game 1 and now being without the services of Kyrie Irving for Game 2, Cleveland has to realize that they cannot afford to turn this game into a shootout. The way to beat this Golden State team, especially in Oracle Arena is to follow the blueprint that the Memphis Grizzlies laid. They need to play fundamentally sounds basketball. That means being aggressive on the boards, playing sound defense and not turning the ball over. As many teams have found out, the Warriors have numerous capable shooters on their team and there is no way to completely shut down their offense. What can be done however and what has proven to be successful are defenders sticking to their assignments and contesting shots. Memphis had great success with the likes of Mike Conley and Tony Allen covering both Thompson and Curry. For the most part they limited the damage the Splash Brothers could inflict and forced others to step up and carry the offensive load. Cleveland will need to employ a similar strategy and we expect them to do just that. 

LeBron James managed to light up the scoreboard with 44 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists and still that was not enough to carry his team to a victory. While that was no doubt disheartening, we expect that to serve as a wake-up call to this defense. James can't do it all on his own and we expect the players and David Blatt to realize that. Their focus in this contest should be on the defensive end and they have numerous players on their roster whom can be formidable defenders. Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert and Timofey Mozgov are no doubt better defenders than they are on the offensive end. We certainly expect them to step up their game and help their teammates out by at least continuing to do what they do well. Not much will be expected of them on the offensive end, James will likely carry the bulk of the load, however they will need to be more aggressive defensively to contain the Warriors offense and give James a chance to keep things close. 

While many are concerned about the status of Kyrie Irving, Matthew Dellavedova is a better defender than he is an offensive presence. He's shown that he has a lot of heart and hustle out there on the floor and could cause some problems for the Warriors on the defensive end. His quick hands and intensity during scrambles for loose balls could prove to be a bright spot in this game for the Cavs defense. Both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love brought a lot to this team offensively but at the same time they were both defensive liabilities at times. Their absence has a big impact on the total because not only has it taken away Cleveland's scoring ability but on the other hand, it has actually helped their defense become even stouter. Having Irving and Love missing is twofold as it will likely limit the amount of points offensively that Cleveland can produce, but will also force the team to play more solid defense in order to prevent the game from getting out of hand which should aid in keeping this a lower scoring game than expected. 

While nearly everyone has been enamored by the Warriors offensive prowess, many seem to overlook just how good this team has been defensively. We have head Steve Kerr on the sidelines many times preaching about playing "playoff defense". He is not going to allow his team to simply forget the fundamentals and allow each and every game to turn into a shootout. While he approves of letting the likes of Curry and Thompson shoot at will, he does expect his team to limit their opponent’s possessions. He has called Andre Iguodala his "safety net" when a critical stop is needed. Andrew Bogut is a legitimate rim protector and Draymond Green is an all-around threat, especially on the defensive end. There is a reason why he came in second this season for Defensive Player of the Year. Defense certainly wins championships and we expect both teams to live up to that mantra in this contest. 

Scott Foster, Tony Brothers and Zach Barba will be the referees officiating this matchup.This is the best and most experienced crew in the league and they have been assigned to this game for a reason. We've seen many times this season that ticky-tack fouls are called; sending teams to the line and because of that, teams are allowed to put points on the board with the clock stopped. This is the championship game and the league realizes that the fans to not want to see a free-throw shooting expedition; they want to see a basketball game between the two best teams in the league. Because of that we believe that the referees are likely to be a bit more tolerant in this game and allow the teams to play through some of the "fouls" that may have been called earlier in the season. Both teams went to the foul line in Game 1 a combined 41 times, including overtime. We expect to see a similar amount of attempts in this game as well. 

Many may not realize this but these two teams are the best in both the Eastern and Western Conference defensively since the New Year! The Warriors defense managed to give up 29 first quarter points to the Cavaliers in Game 1 and that is not something that we expect them to allow happen again tonight. Warrior games have consistently gone 'Under' in the playoffs and that's because Steve Kerr puts a special emphasis on that in the post-season. Meanwhile the Cavs have proven to be proponents of games going ‘Under’ themselves, especially when they find themselves in the role of underdogs. We believed the 'Under' was the right side in Game 1 but wisely stayed away because we had reservations that the game may go to overtime and ruin what was a great pick. The 'Over' bettors were fortunate in that game, however we don’t' see this one going the extra 5 minutes, so the 'Under' should cash out here. It's worth mentioning that only one game this postseason has gone 'Over' at Oracle Arena and that was Game 1 which needed overtime to see it happen. 

Four of the last 7 meetings between these two teams have seen the 'Over' hit which has certainly swayed the public perception of how they expect this matchup to play out. As we stated earlier, we have nothing but respect for both of these offenses. At times they can be explosive and no doubt a shootout is always a possibility, but this with this being the championship series, we expect strategy and tactical adjustments to take precedence. We expect both teams to be much more methodical with their approaches to the game looking to limit mistakes and play as efficiently as possible. We expect the Warriors to likely have a comfortable lead for much of this game and that will likely mean they take a more deliberate approach and play more methodically managing the clock as well as shot selection in the 4th. That in itself could be enough to keep this Total from reaching the number. 

In Game 1, both teams managed to grab a double digit number of offensive boards which resulted in numerous second chance opportunities and put-backs. We don't believe that will happen again. Fighting for rebounds and being aggressive on the glass will be key for both squads. We do expect the Cavaliers to be somewhat limited in what they are able to do offensively. LeBron James will no doubt make an impact and get his points but we foresee the Cavs scoring only between 87-94 points in this contest. Should that be the case, it will be hard-pressed to see this total going 'Over'. If this game can avoid another unlucky overtime, the final score could be in the 102-94 range which falls under the 201 mark.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • The Under is 11-4 overall in Golden State playoff games!
  • 16 of 26 Cavalier games have gone 'Under' after they allowed 105+ points previously.
  • Warrior games have gone Under 6 out of 9 times when leading in a playoff series this year!

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