I have some bad news, LeBron lovers.
While nobody can dispute the talent of your hardwood hero, the truth is that he just plain stinks when it comes to betting on him in the NBA Finals. King James and his teams are 13-19-1 against the spread over the course of his six NBA Finals for a winning percentage of just 40.6 against the betting line.
That’s enough to shoot a hole greater than $700 in your bankroll if you blindly bet LeBron’s teams in the NBA Finals throughout his career.
The numbers are made even worse when you consider they are propped up by the 2012 Finals when the Miami Heat went 4-1 against the spread on their way to disposing of the Oklahoma City Thunder. In each of the other five years you would have made money by blindly betting against LeBron and in the last two Finals alone, you would have gone 8-3 against the spread simply by fading James.
I know those numbers may feel a little strange. After all, LeBron put up Superman stats last year by becoming the first player in the Finals to lead both teams in points per game, rebounds per game and assists per game. Yet in betting terms, it was James’ second most costly performance in a Finals.
The good news for those looking to bet Cleveland is that the formula is pretty straightforward here. When LeBron’s teams win in the Finals they cover and when they lose they don’t. LeBron is 13-20 straight up in the Finals compared to 13-19-1 against the spread so if you decide to take the Cavs as underdogs with the points you may also want to dab a little on the moneyline.
Early love was coming in on the Warriors at several books for Game 1 and the spread held steady at Golden State -6 early in the day. If the series action is any indicator though, I think we may see that line come down closer to game time. Fifty-seven percent of the action was on Cleveland to win the series at Sportsbook and several other books chopped their prices on the Cavs considerably ahead of Game 1.
LeBron is a tempting wager as an underdog and the Cavs have only been handed points in nine games this year. They went 7-2 against the spread in those.