Leading Off

Predicting the NBA Finals

The Warriors have captured more than the imagination of Northern California basketball fans. They’ve become the darlings of oddsmakers and media (outside, of course, the Cleaveland area.)

According to Odds Shark, the Warriors are 5-12 favorites to win the NBA Finals, while the Cavaliers are 19-10 underdogs.

And there’s no shortage of media types picking the Warriors, though not everyone is sold on Stephen Curry and company.

Here’s a sampling of predictions:

Dan Favale, Bleacher Report: “Nothing can take away from all (the Cavaliers have) accomplished. … (But) any chance (LeBron James) gives (the Cavaliers) just won’t be enough against a deeper, more well-rounded Warriors team for the ages.” Warriors in six

Ken Berger, CBSsports.com: “The Warriors have plenty of length/athleticism (not to mention 24 fouls) to use against LeBron James. … As all-powerful as LeBron is, a deciding game at Oracle would be the perfect culmination to what has felt like the Warriors' year from wire-to-wire.” Warriors in seven

Sean Deveney, Sporting News: “Golden State was the best defensive team in the league, it's a pretty good rebounding team and it has the NBA’s most versatile rotation. The Cavs’ momentum is not going to be enough to counter that.” Warriors in seven

Chris Haynes, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “The zone LeBron James is in makes it difficult for me to pick against him. His demeanor, his attitude is all business and it’s rubbing off on his teammates. He focused on both ends of the floor. At this point, I’m not sure there’s anything the Warriors can do to contain him, even though they have the personnel to do so.” Cavaliers in six

Joe Varden, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Cleveland's playing the best defense in the league and its best player – arguably the league's best, with Curry also staking a claim – is playing at the very top of his game.” Cavaliers in seven

Brian Mahoney, Associated Press: James nearly averaged a triple-double in the conference finals against an Atlanta team that was limited in its options against him. If (the Warriors) can force James to beat them from the outside, he’ll probably have to shoot better than his current 17.6 percent from three-point range in this postseason to do it. Warriors in 6

Mark Kiszla, Denver Post: Curry does have a better supporting cast than James. What I really like about the Warriors is they prove it's possible to build a legit contender without winning the draft lottery or spending a ton of money in free agency to acquire a superstar. Warriors in six

Tom Couzens, (916) 321-1097 @tomcouzens

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