LeBron James entering the NBA Finals as the underdog … again

LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks on during the trophy presentation after Game Five of the 2017 NBA Eastern Conference Finals at TD Garden on May 25, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

This might sound strange, but LeBron James is used to being the underdog. Yes, one of the greatest players in NBA history is getting accustomed to the “little guy” role.

As James gets ready to make his eighth career NBA Finals appearance with Game 1 between the Cavaliers and Warriors on Thursday night, he’ll enter as the underdog once again.

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Interestingly, James’ team has started six of his eight Finals appearances as the underdog. Cleveland and Golden State are meeting in the Finals for the third consecutive season this year, and the Warriors have begun each of those three series as the favorite.

In James’ four NBA Finals appearances as a member of the Heat, he entered two of them as the favorite and the other two as the underdog.

“I only play blackjack in Vegas anyway, so it doesn’t matter,” James said to reporters about being the underdog again.

It didn’t matter last season, as the Cavaliers began the 2016 Finals as heavy underdogs and still won the championship in a memorable seven-game series. One needed to bet $220 on the Warriors to win the series to take home $100, while a $100 bet on the Cavaliers to win the series would have resulted in a $180 profit.

But even after winning the championship last season, Cleveland is an even bigger underdog this time around. According to Bovada.lv, the Warriors are listed as the favorite at 5-to-12 odds (need to bet $240 to win $100) to win the series, while the Cavaliers’ odds to win the title are at 2-to-1 (a $100 bet would result in $200 profit).

Based on James’ other seven Finals appearances, this doesn’t really matter much.

James is 1-1 in the two NBA Finals series his team entered as the favorite — he and the Heat lost in the 2011 Finals against the Mavericks, and he won with Miami in the 2013 Finals against the Spurs. He’s 2-3 in the NBA Finals series his team entered as the underdog.

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