Thunder still series underdogs against Warriors heading into Game 2

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The Oklahoma City Thunder stunned the Golden State Warriors with a 108-102 comeback victory in Game 1 of the NBA’s Western Conference Finals, but continue to trail the defending champions with +150 odds on the series prices at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Thunder trailed by as many as 14 points on Monday before grabbing an early fourth-quarter lead they would not relinquish en route to their fourth consecutive straight up win, and third straight victory on the road, easily paying out as 7.5-point underdogs.

Since wrapping up the regular season on a lackluster note, posting SU losses in five of their final eight games, including a 1-4 SU record in their final five road contests, Oklahoma City has come to life in the postseason with five wins in six road dates, outscoring opponents by an average of over 10 points per game in those victories.

Monday’s win also ended a five-game SU losing streak in Golden State, but Oklahoma City continues to battle tempered expectations ahead of Game 2, pegged as 8.5-point underdogs going into Wednesday’s Thunder vs. Warriors betting matchup at Oracle Arena.

Listed as diminished -170 chalk on the NBA series prices following their first playoff loss on home court since Game 2 of last year’s NBA Finals, the Warriors have also seen their NBA championship odds take a hit.

Golden State remains perched as the betting favorites to repeat as NBA champions, but find themselves sporting positive moneyline odds for the first time in over two months, falling to +110, while the Thunder vaulted from +600 to +350 with their Game 1 win.

The Warriors have posted just three losses in 11 postseason contests, and are an impressive 12-3 SU in their past 15 overall, but have struggled in recent outings to pay out at the sportsbooks, failing to cover in three of their past four, including their past two home dates.

ATS wins against the Thunder have also not come easy for Golden State, who have failed to cover in back-to-back meetings with Oklahoma City since midway through last season, and are just 6-10-2 ATS in their past 18 matchups.

Meanwhile, the Cleveland Cavaliers improved to a perfect 9-0 SU during the postseason with a decisive 115-84 win over the Toronto Raptors, covering as 11-point chalk in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday night.

Cleveland’s win was just their second in their past four games against the Raptors, who have now dropped seven straight Game 1 decisions and were already well back at a distant +2500 on the odds to win the NBA championship heading into Tuesday night.

Thunder Climbing the NBA Futures After Carmelo Anthony Trade

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If the Golden State Warriors can be taken down, chances are it might come from within the NBA’s cutthroat Western Conference. With the season due to tip off in a couple weeks, Golden State is the -160 favorite on the odds to win the NBA championship at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Warriors have dominated the league for three seasons running with nary a hiccup, save for their breakdown at the end of the 2016 postseason when they lost a seven-game NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James.

This past NBA offseason was all about superstars maneuvering to join Western Conference teams in order to try to take the fight to the Warriors more directly. As a result of their moves to add Carmelo Anthony and Paul George to their forward corps to complement league-MVP point guard Russell Westbrook, the Oklahoma City Thunder (+1200) have seen their price come down precipitously from an opening +6600.

As it stands, more than 10/1 odds on a team which is a favorite to win its division is a pretty good deal.

The San Antonio Spurs, the league’s model of stability, also come in at +1200. The Houston Rockets (+1600) have actually had their price rise in the last three weeks, which might reflect how no one is sure whether newly acquired PG Chris Paul and SG James Harden will be compatible.

Among Eastern Conference teams, Cleveland (+550) is offering good value, since any team which has LeBron James is a solid bet to last at least three rounds in the postseason. One might be able to wait before making a play with the Cavaliers. The need to make sure PG Derrick Rose and PG Dwayne Wade get rest during the season will probably supersede the Cavs’ need to go for a No. 1 seed.

The Boston Celtics (+800) added PG Kyrie Irving (from Cleveland) and SF Gordon Hayward, but one should remember that they were not an overly dominant team last season and their No. 1 playoff seed owed somewhat to being in the Atlantic Division with the likes of the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers.

If none of the contenders near the top of the board pass the eye test, it might be better to take a flyer on some small-market teams with superstar talent. The Minnesota Timberwolves (+2800) are complementing young stars Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns with a supporting cast that includes Jimmy Butler – one of the best two-way wing players any side of Golden State’s Draymond Green – and veterans such as Jamal Crawford and Jeff Teague.

The Milwaukee Bucks (+6600) might not be close to winning a title, but the ceiling for a team with a burgeoning superstar in SF Giannis Antetokounmpo, AKA The Greek Freak, is very high. Milwaukee should get a long look for anyone poring over preseason props.

 

Markelle Fultz considered lock atop NBA Draft, but intriguing odds abound

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The real challenge in wagering on the NBA draft lies beyond the first two selections.

Washington Huskies point guard Markelle Fultz is now a borderline comical -5000 to be taken first at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The trade that the point guard-hungry Philadelphia 76ers swung with the Boston Celtics on Monday to get the No. 1 pick virtually assured Fultz would be the pick.

There’s actually a lower price on the field (+700) than on either UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball (+1200) or Duke small forward Jayson Tatum (+5000).

Speaking of Ball, the line of him being drafted by his hometown Los Angeles Lakers is -260, while there’s a +200 payout if he’s selected by any other team. The Lakers have also signaled their intentions by announcing they’ll trade incumbent point guard D’Angelo Russell. However, some feel Kentucky PG De’Aaron Fox, due to his athleticism and speed, has a higher ceiling.

Speaking of the aptly named Fox, many of the intriguing NBA Draft betting props involve the over/under on what point of the draft certain budding stars will hear their name called at the Barclays Center on Thursday.

The total for Fox  is 4.5. Tatum also has a 4.5 total. The Boston Celtics, who pick third, are set at point guard, but the Phoenix Suns could be looking at one at fourth overall.

One should probably keep an eye on speculation about Frank Ntilikina, whose draft-slot total of 9.5 seems on the high side. The 18-year-old Frenchman is one of the youngest players in this draft class and has the skillset to also play either guard spot. The New York Knicks and Dallas Mavericks, who are in the eighth and ninth slots, are both keen on him, and there’s always the chance of one trading up to get him.

Ntilikina is also a -1400 favorite to be the first international player taken. The total on how many international players will go in the first round is 4.5.

College basketball fans can also carry over their rooting interests by betting on how many players will be taken in the first round. There is a 3.5 total for Duke players taken in the first round. The over pays a generous +145, which would require SG Frank Jackson sneaking into the first round to join Tatum, SG Luke Kennedy and C Harry Giles.

Conversely, the under on the 2.5 total of Oregon Ducks players selected – three players are second-round possibilities – is +220.

The early picks, of course, are mostly comprised of one-and-done talents. There is good value on picking who will be the first college senior taken. Colorado combo guard Derrick White is a slim +185 favorite, with Big 12 rival Wesley Iwundu of Kansas State listed at +210.