The Warriors are entering the 2018 NBA Finals as heavy favorites to win their third championship in four years after upending the Rockets in the conference finals. Golden State opens its latest rematch against the Cavaliers as a -1,000 favorite, according to ESPN, which makes for the most lopsided Finals matchup in at least 16 years.
Cleveland enters the series as a +650 underdog after eliminating Boston in the previous round. The Cavaliers may have LeBron James, but they’re going to be the biggest underdog in a Finals since his career started in 2003.
The Warriors open Game 1 against the Cavaliers as a 12-point favorite, which is tied for the widest point spread for a Finals game since 1991. The only game that’s matched that spread was Game 1 of the 2001 NBA Finals between the Lakers and 76ers. Philadelphia actually won that game in overtime to take a 1-0 series lead, but Los Angeles would rattle off four straight victories from there to repeat as champions.
This is the fifth straight trip to the NBA Finals where James’ team is considered an underdog, but the odds makers have less faith than ever. The Cavaliers were +190, +180 and +250 underdogs in 2015, 2016 and 2017, respectively. Even in 2007, when James made his first Finals trip with a weak supporting cast, the Cavs were just a +360 underdog to the Spurs, per ESPN.
The Warriors needed seven games to get past the Rockets in the Western Conference Finals, but they’re heavily favored to win another title. As good as James has been this postseason, Golden State’s star-studded lineup makes for a brutal matchup.