Durant, Warriors Headline Early Odds to Win NBA Championship

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The upside of the Golden State Warriors adding Kevin Durant is that every other contender’s odds on the 2017 NBA champion futures board is just that much more appealing.

Golden State was an unquestioned power prior to signing Durant in July. Although it will take time for the Warriors to figure out how Durant will go from being a focal point to part of a team of stars with two-time MVP Stephen Curry, SG Klay Thompson and SF Draymond Green, the Warriors have the potential to be even more powerful still.

Consequently, Golden State remains better than even money at the top of the board with  odds of -125 to win the NBA title at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Of course, the last two series of the 2016 NBA playoffs – where the Warriors first had to overcome a 3-1 deficit against Durant’s Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals, then missed three chances to close out the Cleveland Cavaliers – showed Golden State is not invincible.

LeBron James’ Cavaliers are listed at +300, and their value might not drop too precipitously during the regular season. James and the Cavs don’t emphasize racking up gaudy regular-season win totals. But Cleveland has the chance to be an even better playoff team, depending on how they blend in outside shooter Mike Dunleavy and whether PG Iman Shumpert proves capable with spelling Kyrie Irving.

The San Antonio Spurs at +900 is brow-furrowing. Their path to the NBA Finals likely goes through Golden State, but the Spurs could grind it out in a best-of-seven series. San Antonio never has a bad season, and PF LaMarcus Aldridge has now joined SF Kawhi Leonard in a frontcourt that is solid at each end of the floor.

There is big drop-off from the top three, with the improving Boston Celtics listed at +1800. Boston made major upgrades at two positions by adding C Al Horford and SF Jaylen Brown to a lineup led by PG Isaiah Thomas. The Celtics certainly are capable of challenging the Toronto Raptors (+4000) for top spot in the Atlantic Division.

The Los Angeles Clippers are listed at +2500. With PF Blake Griffin in his contract year, the Clippers’ window to win is very short, but it’s hard to envision how a team which has never put it together in the playoffs suddenly will now that there is the huge distraction of a franchise player leaving.

Warriors seek 2-0 series lead as double-digit favorite against Spurs

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The Golden State Warriors feasted after Kawhi Leonard was knocked out on Sunday, but they are far from an automatic cover as a huge home-court favorite in the NBA playoffs.

Stephen Curry and the Warriors are listed as 13.5-point favorites against the Spurs with a 208.5-point total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com for their Game 2 matchup scheduled for Tuesday.

During the Curry era, Golden State is 12-1 straight-up and 4-9 against the spread in 13 playoff games where they were favored by 10 or more points at home. The Warriors are also 1-6 ATS in their last seven home playoff games according to the OddsShark NBA Database.

Not having Leonard (left ankle sprain) leaves a void for San Antonio, but the Spurs are 6-2 ATS without their all-star small forward this season. That includes their series-clinching win against the Houston Rockets in the second round. One can take for granted that a team under Gregg Popovich’s coaching guidance will find a way to adapt.

San Antonio will need to find ways to get PF LaMarcus Aldridge away from Warriors SF Draymond Green on offense, as well make greater use of PF Kyle Anderson. Jonathon Simmons has also proven capable of replacing Leonard’s scoring.

Over 11 games as the underdog this season, the Spurs are 7-4 SU and 8-2-1 ATS.

Job one for Golden State, which is 18-2 SU and 8-10-2 ATS over its last 20 home games, will be slowing down the Spurs after allowing 111 points at home on Sunday. They usually are tough on defense at Oracle Arena, where the total has gone under in 13 of their last 20 home games. Offensively, the absence of Leonard should free up space for PF Kevin Durant, since San Antonio won’t have a matchup for the four-time NBA scoring champion.

That said, the Warriors will need perimeter shooting from their supporting cast, not just Curry and SG Klay Thompson. With SF Andre Iguodala (knee) questionable, Golden State might be hard up for a complementary shooter to hit open threes.

The other big variable for Golden State is that assistant coach Mike Brown is running the bench in the absence of Steve Kerr (back surgery). Brown does not seem to have Kerr’s deft hand with making the right substitutions, which was why Golden State found itself in a 25-point hole in Game 1.

The total has gone over in 12 of the Spurs’ last 15 games overall and has also gone over in eight of their past 10 road games. The total has gone over in 10 of the Warriors’ last 15 games.

Celtics underdogs, Warriors big favorites for Thursday’s NBA matchups

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Coming off a sixth consecutive win, the Boston Celtics are listed as 5.5-point underdogs against the Washington Wizards with a 218.5-point total in their Game 3 matchup on Thursday, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Celtics lead the Eastern Conference semifinal series 2-0, but overcame a slow start in Game 2. A letdown at some point soon is perhaps inevitable, especially for a team with chronic rebounding problems. Thomas’ backcourt mate, Avery Bradley (right hip pointer), also has an injury situation that bettors should monitor.

Boston is 6-3 SU and ATS in its last nine road games against Southeast Division teams, according to the OddsShark NBA Database. The Wizards and star point guard John Wall are 8-2 SU and ATS in their last 10 home games against Atlantic Division opponents.

The Wizards are favorites for Thursday, but picking up the win rests on finding someone – anyone, really – to be a viable second look on offense after Wall. Shooting guard Bradley Beal has had issues getting freed up in the series, and Washington will also need to give C Marcin Gortat some help in his matchup with Boston’s Al Horford (15 points, 12 boards in Game 2).

Also on Thursday, the Golden State Warriors are 12.5-point betting favorites against the Utah Jazz with a 204-point total.

Even though their shooting was ice-cold during a defeat in Game 1 of the series, Gordon Hayward and the Jazz were able to improve to 7-0 ATS in their last seven road games against Pacific Division teams. The Jazz also shot above 50 percent in all three of their games after a loss during their first-round series against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Golden State is 19-1 SU and 11-7-2 ATS in their last 20 home games as a favorite of at least 10 points. The Warriors, mindful that the Jazz allowed a league-fewest 96.8 points per game, seem to have doubled down on their commitment to defense, with forwards Kevin Durant and Draymond Green looking to force turnovers that facilitate a transition game.

The Warriors, who are 9-1 SU and 6-4 ATS in their last 10 home games in May, were able to get their quota of three-point attempts in the opener, launching 29. Both PG Stephen Curry (1-for-4) and SF Andre Iguodala (0-for-6) will be looking for better efficiency.

The total has gone under in seven of the Jazz’s last 10 road games against the Warriors at online sports betting sites. The total has gone under in 13 of the last 20 Warriors’ home games when they were favored by at least 10 points.