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.

NBA Christmas Day Slate has Warriors, Spurs Among Odds Favorites

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Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors typically manage to cover when they face a close line on the road. The Warriors are listed as 3.5-point favorites on the NBA betting lines against the Cleveland Cavaliers for their Christmas Day matchup, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Warriors are finding their peak form and are 14-2 straight-up and 7-8-1 against the spread on the road this season. The smallest line in any of the ATS losses, though, was 8.5 points.

The main matchup will be Durant against LeBron James, who has helped Cleveland forge a home record of 15-2 SU and 10-6-1 ATS. The Cavaliers are trying to replace injured SG J.R. Smith (right thumb surgery). Star forward Kevin Love (left knee bruise) also has an injury issue, but only had to play 25 minutes during a blowout win on Friday.

The Christmas Day slate begins with the New York Knicks hosting the Boston Celtics in a pick’em contest. The key matchup will be at point guard – the Knicks’ Derrick Rose and the Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas. Boston is 7-3 SU and 8-2 ATS in its last 10 road games and has found a rhythm since C Al Horford returned from injury.

Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis (right knee contusion) could have his minutes closely monitored to avoid aggravating his injury.

The San Antonio Spurs are favored by 7.5 points against the Chicago Bulls in a matchup headlined by two elite small forwards, the Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard and the Bulls’ Jimmy Butler. It is tough to go against San Antonio being 14-0 SU and 11-3 ATS in December home games over the last two seasons, particularly with Chicago’s erratic perimeter shooting.

The Bulls are 4-6 SU and 5-5 ATS in their last 10 games as a road underdog, according to the OddsShark NBA Database.

The Oklahoma City Thunder are favored by 4.5 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Thunder PG Russell Westbrook is carrying his team which has been inconsistent at home, going 9-6 SU and 8-7 ATS this season.

Minnesota has plenty of promise in C Karl-Anthony Towns and SF Andrew Wiggins, but awful defense has kept them from getting into the playoff picture. The Timberwolves are 1-9 SU and 4-6 ATS in their last 10 road games against the Thunder.

And the availability of Chris Paul (hamstring) will weigh heavily on the lines for the Christmas nightcap between the Los Angeles Lakers and Paul’s Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers are also without PF Blake Griffin (minor knee surgery), but D’Angelo Russell and the young Lakers are struggling at 0-4 SU and ATS in their last four divisional games.

The Clippers are 10-0 SU and 5-5 ATS in their last 10 games as the favorite against the Lakers.

Watch Bulls vs. Clippers basketball game, live online stream

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Chris Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers (11-2) look to stay hot when they host Jimmy Butler and the Chicago Bulls (8-4). The Clippers extended the best start in franchise history with a 121-115 road victory at the Sacramento Kings on Friday night.

The Bulls, riding a four-game winning streak, will play the third of six consecutive games on the road during their annual circus trip. Butler has poured in 20 or more points in a career-high six straight games and has recorded a 20+ point, 10+ rebound performance in back-to-back contests.

Watch the game live here:

When: 10:30 PM ET

Broadcast Network: NBATV

Live Stream: NBATV.com