Coming into the NBA postseason, we all knew that the Golden State Warriors were widely considered the best team in the NBA, and the most prohibitive favorite to win the NBA title (-200 in most places) at playoff outset in the modern era. I believe most of us knew, even if they were the No. 2 seed in the East, that the Eastern Conference was LeBron James's (and the Cavaliers', but mostly LeBron's) to lose.
We just didn't realize how lopsided it actually was, a tilt made even more skewed when the second-best team in both conferences suffered injuries to its best players — Kawhi Leonard in San Antonio, Isaiah Thomas in Boston — early in the conference finals. The end result has been the evolution of the NBA Playoffs into the de facto "LeBron and Warriors Invitational."
(NOTE: I know it looks like I'm disrespecting the rest of the Cavaliers, but screw them — they were a garbage lottery team before LeBron got back there, even with Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love never won squat without LeBron either. So I will refer to them as "LeBron" whenever I damn well please.)
The NBA has been a top-heavy league for a majority of its history. Every season, the list of teams with even an outside shot at the title can be counted on one hand. Such is life in a sport that requires four wins in a seven-game series to advance and, ultimately, win the championship.
However, this season it feels like the NBA Finals we are about to get have been a fait accompli all season, even when the Cavaliers were going through a swoon over the last two months of the season that saw them fall to second place. All roads have led to Warriors versus LeBron, Part III. That said, we didn't realize the plunder and scorched earth that would be left on those roads.
Heading into last night's Celtics-Cavs Game 3, the Warriors and the Cavs are both undefeated in the postseason, collectively 21-0. They've both been favored in every single game of the postseason, which raises the question, what kind of money could you have made if you had shown night-to-night faith in both of these teams that they would merely win their games? Not cover the spread, just win outright.
Or, more accurately, now that the Celtics pulled off a miraculous 111-108 upset last night in Cleveland, how much did you watch flush down the tubes? Well, good news! I have the Google-ability to find that data, run the numbers and tell you!
Here are the results of each of the Cleveland and Golden State games, by round. The home team for each game is in CAPS, and the money line for the favorite is in parentheses after the score of each game.
I'll pause after each round of the playoffs to show the winnings by interval. Here we go...
CLV GAME 1: Saturday, April 15 — CLEVELAND 109, Indiana 108 (CLV -500)
GSW GAME 1: Sunday, April 16 — GOLDEN STATE 121, Portland 109 (GSW -2500)
CLV GAME 2: Sunday, April 17 — CLEVELAND 117, Indiana 111 (CLV -435)
GSW GAME 2: Wednesday, April 19 — GOLDEN STATE 110, Portland 81 (GSW -833)
CLV GAME 3: Thursday, April 20 — Cleveland 119, INDIANA 114 (CLV -125)
GSW GAME 3: Saturday, April 22 — Golden State 119, PORTLAND 113 (GSW -200)
CLV GAME 4: Sunday, April 23 — Cleveland 106, INDIANA 102 (CLV -169)
GSW GAME 4: Monday, April 24 — Golden State 128, PORTLAND 103 (GSW -417)
First Round Parlay Payout: $816.01
The closest shave in the first round was Cleveland having to come back from being down 26 in the second half to Indiana. In fact, Cleveland was still so far from being dominant early in the playoffs that they were damn near a pick 'em in Game 3 of this round! To INDIANA!
So we roll the $816.01 and keep moving...
CLV GAME 1: Monday, May 1 — CLEVELAND 116, Toronto 105 (CLV -312)
GSW GAME 1: Tuesday, May 2 — GOLDEN STATE 106, Utah 94 (GSW -1429)
CLV GAME 2: Wednesday, May 3 —CLEVELAND 125, Toronto 103 (CLV -345)
GSW GAME 2: Thursday, May 4 — GOLDEN STATE 115, Utah 104 (GSW -1667)
CLV GAME 3: Friday, May 5 — Cleveland 115, TORONTO 94 (CLV -145)
GSW GAME 3: Saturday, May 6 — Golden State 102, UTAH 91 (GSW -270)
CLV GAME 4: Sunday, May 7 — Cleveland 109, TORONTO 102 (CLV -294)
GSW GAME 4: Monday, May 8 — Golden State 121, UTAH 95 (GSW -435)
Conference Semifinals Parlay Payout (rolling over $816.01 from first round): $5,199.95
No real close shaves in the second round, just one game with a single-digit margin among the eight combined Cavaliers and Warriors games. Now onto the conference finals (which will be over on Tuesday night)...
GSW GAME 1: Sunday, May 14 — GOLDEN STATE 113, San Antonio 111 (GSW -625)
GSW GAME 2: Tuesday, May 16 — GOLDEN STATE 136, San Antonio 100 (GSW -1429)
CLV, GAME 1: Wednesday, May 17 — CLEVELAND 117, Boston 104 (CLV -182)
CLV GAME 2: Friday, May 19 — CLEVELAND 130, Boston 86 (CLV -213)
GSW GAME 3: Saturday, May 20 — Golden State 120, SAN ANTONIO 108 (GSW -455)
Conference Finals Parlay Payout (rolling over $5,199.95 from first two rounds): $12,724.82
But then last night happened...
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CLV GAME 3: Sun, May 21 — BOSTON 111, Cleveland 108 (CLV -3333)
Yes, in a game in which the Cavaliers were favored by more than they'd been favored by in any game all year (they were 17-point favorites), they lost at home outright to a team missing its best player.
Welcome to gambling!
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.