LeBron James has never been this big of an underdog in the Finals.
The Golden State Warriors have been installed as overwhelming favorites over James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the fourth straight Finals meeting between the two teams. This year’s matchup is expected to be the most lopsided.
The Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas opened Golden State as a -1,000 favorite to win the best-of-seven series, which tips off Thursday. The Warriors are the largest Finals favorites in at least 16 seasons, according to odds database Sportsoddshistory.com.
Cleveland opened as a +650 underdog against the Warriors in the series. The Cavaliers were around +360 underdogs against the San Antonio Spurs in 2007, James’ first trip to the Finals.
The Warriors opened as 12-point favorites in Game 1. That’s tied for the largest point spread in a Finals game since 1991, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Los Angeles Lakers were 12-point favorites over the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 1 of the 2001 Finals, a game won by the Sixers.
Golden State never opened as anywhere close to this big of favorite in the previous three Finals meetings with Cleveland. The Warriors were around -300 over the Cavaliers in last year’s Finals. Golden State won that series four games to one.
The Cavaliers were only +180 underdogs when they upended Golden State in the 2016 Finals.
Both teams had to survive Game 7s on the road in the conference finals. The Cavaliers won at Boston on Saturday, and the Warriors came from behind to beat the Houston Rockets on Sunday to set up another Finals showdown.
James has been an underdog in seven of his nine Finals appearances. He has won three titles.