Cavaliers, Warriors clear leaders on NBA Conference odds boards

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While oddsmakers have an expectation that the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors are on a collision course for a third consecutive NBA Finals clash, there is some interesting movement among the challengers.

Just more than a week out from the start of the playoffs, the Cavaliers are the -300 betting favorites on the Eastern Conference futures while the Warriors’ odds are -250 atop the Western Conference board at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

While LeBron James and the defending champion Cavaliers had a losing record (6-10 straight-up) in March, their victory against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday put them in a good position to finish first overall in the East and have home-court advantage for the first three rounds.

The Celtics (+425), led by PG Isaiah Thomas, draw in as the biggest challenger on the Eastern side. Boston is 20-10 SU over its last 30 games, slightly better than Cleveland’s 18-12 SU mark over the same number of games.

The Cavaliers clearly do have issues, particularly with tightening up their defensive play. An opponent could pounce early in the playoffs before James and Kyrie Irving find a groove.

Both the Washington Wizards (+900) and Toronto Raptors (+1200) are neck-and-neck to earn the No. 3 seed, which might mean playing Boston in the second round. The Wizards have great leadership from PG John Wall. The Raptors will have to rely on their defense – that’s why they got PF Serge Ibaka at the deadline – until PG Kyle Lowry, who’s just back from wrist surgery, is 100 percent.

On the Western Conference board, the Warriors’ odds are slightly better than the -333 they were listed at in late February. The absence of Kevin Durant (sprained MCL), who’s expected back just prior to the playoffs, has enabled SG Klay Thompson to rediscover his all-star form, while two-time MVP Steph Curry has also gone a hot streak.

Kawhi Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs (+325) are seen as posing the biggest challenge to Golden State, as their price has come down from +500. The red-hot second half that MVP candidate James Harden and the Houston Rockets (+750) have put together has led to their odds dropping from +900.

Oddsmakers see the Western Conference as a three-team race, at most, with the Los Angeles Clippers (+2500) and Utah Jazz (+2500) each drawing very long odds on the NBA betting futures at the sportsbooks.

Warriors Head into Conference Finals as NBA Title Odds Favorites

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Now that Stephen Curry is back in their vaunted starting lineup, the Golden State Warriors have moved into minus money on the 2018 NBA title odds entering the league’s final four.

With the conference finals set to tip off, the defending champion Warriors are the -150 favorite to capture the Larry O’Brien Trophy at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Their Western Conference Finals opponent, the home court advantage-holding Houston Rockets, are listed at +240.

On the Eastern Conference side, the Cleveland Cavaliers – and LeBron James – are priced at +550, with the undermanned but resourceful Boston Celtics at +1600. The odds back up the contention the Western Finals are tantamount to the real NBA Finals.

The NBA playoff series prices for the conference finals reflect the champions-until-proven-otherwise notion. The Warriors and Cavaliers each have to start on the road, but after all, they have met in the last three NBA Finals.

The Warriors (-180) will need at least one away win against the Rockets (+160) to take the series. The good news for Warriors backers is that the OddsShark NBA Database shows that Golden State is 10-6 straight-up and 10-6 against the spread in its last 16 road playoff games in the month of May. If Curry is back to peak form after getting into the final four Warriors games, then they should have the deeper starting five.

The Rockets had 65 wins in the regular-season. Only 17 NBA teams have topped that and 12 also won the championship. Whether the Rockets can back up the hype will depend on maintaining their defensive efficiency against a top offense, as well as having the combo of guards James Harden and Chris Paul outplay Curry and Klay Thompson. For what it might be worth, Paul has matched up well defensively against Curry over the years.

The Cavaliers (-280) swept the top-seeded Toronto Raptors in the conference semifinal round, while the Celtics (+235) defeated the Philadelphia 76ers in spite of an accumulation of injuries.

The fact that James-led teams have won the Eastern Conference seven years in a row drives down the Cavaliers’ price, but it’s so tough to go against him. The Cavaliers’ supporting players, such as forward Kevin Love and forward George Hill, also seem healthy after up-and-down regular seasons.

The Celtics are 5-15 SU and 11-8-1 ATS in their last 20 games against the Cavaliers, which is another contributor to their price on top of the “Playoff LeBron” factor. However, the Celtics are a much stronger defensive team than the Indiana Pacers squad that stretched the Cavaliers to seven games in the first round and both center Al Horford and guard Terry Rozier have found ways to get big buckets in the late stages of quarters, when NBA games are ultimately decided.

If one doesn’t worry about feeling foolish for denying James’ greatness, then the Celtics at better than 2-to-1 are a justifiable play.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

 

Warriors, Cavaliers headline NBA betting lines as playoffs get underway

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Perhaps unlike NBA postseasons past, there is betting value on offer with the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers and the defending champion Golden State Warriors.

Although neither of the teams that have contested the last three NBA Finals are a top seed, the Warriors are the +135 favorites on the odds to win the 2018 NBA championship at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The Warriors at plus money is worth taking for bettors who believe success is self-perpetuating.

The Houston Rockets, who had the best overall record, are the +160 second favorite, before a drop down to the Cavaliers (+650) and the Toronto Raptors (+850), the top Eastern Conference seed.

The NBA is a front-runner’s league. Fifty-two out of 71 champions were a No. 1 seed in the league, conference or division. The Cavaliers are the No. 4 seed in their conference; only one team has ever won the NBA title from that starting position.

In finals matchup odds, a fourth consecutive Cavaliers-Warriors matchup has the top prop at +345. There is slightly more value on offer for having it all come down to the Raptors and Warriors (+368), Cavaliers-Rockets (+469), or the Raptors-Rockets (+498).

For the first time since James brought his talents back to northeast Ohio, the Cavaliers (+125) are plus money on the Eastern Conference champions futures. Toronto has been the league’s deepest team for the balance of the season and its +155 prop is enticing, since this might be the strongest squad the Raptors have yet assembled. Since there is still a wait-and-see attitude with Toronto, their price is likely to stay higher for longer than the Cavaliers’ price.

The Warriors (-110) are slight favorites on the Western Conference champions futures, followed by the Rockets. As in the East, the choice comes down to whether one thinks the regular season foreshadowed a changing of the guard.

There is also ample value in NBA playoff series prices as Round 1 tips off on Saturday. The Boston Celtics (-170), with guard Kyrie Irving out, might be fine for at least one series, but the No. 7 seed Milwaukee Bucks (+150) and Giannis Antetokounmpo have the athleticism to break down Boston’s excellent defense, and could pull the upset.

With Joel Embiid (face injury, concussion) due to miss at least one game, the talented but callow Philadelphia 76ers (-465) could run into some issues with the Miami Heat (+390). Miami has exceptional depth for a No. 6 seed and its strong defense could pose problems for young 76ers such as Ben Simmons.

On the Western side, the tightest series is likely the Oklahoma City Thunder (-135) against the Utah Jazz (+115). Oklahoma City has the edge in seasoned individual talent – Russell Westbrook, Paul George – but its suspect defense gives Utah a chance to take the matchup to a full seven games.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.