Cavaliers begin playoff run behind Warriors on NBA championship odds

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For all the hand-wringing about the Cleveland Cavaliers’ slump, LeBron James and company enter the NBA playoffs in pretty much the same state as they did before winning it all in 2016.

Having weathered a 19-game absence from Kevin Durant, the Golden State Warriors are the -160 favorite on the odds to win the NBA championship, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Stephen Curry and the Warriors’ price will only drop farther as the playoff field gets whittled down, assuming they don’t have an epic collapse.

James and Cleveland are listed at +333 after going just 9-11 straight-up and 8-12 against the spread in their final 20 games against the Eastern Conference. However, the Cavs had a so-so stretch run last year, when they were listed at +400 going into the playoffs.

Thirty of the league’s last 35 champions were either a No. 1 or 2 seed, and the last four were No. 1. Based on their championship experience, the No. 2 seed in the West, the San Antonio Spurs, are third on the board at +600. The No. 1 Eastern seed, the Boston Celtics, are a distant +1600, level with the Houston Rockets. That’s not surprising, considering Boston’s per-game point differential (2.7) is the lowest of a No. 1 seed since 1979.

The Cavaliers are a -275 favorite on the Eastern Conference champion odds, which reflects that James’ team has made the last six NBA Finals. The Celtics are at +425. The Toronto Raptors, whose seeding puts them on course to meet Cleveland in the second round, are listed at +900.

The Western Conference board is very similar, with the Warriors at -250 followed by the Spurs (+300) and Rockets (+750).

Among the four major pro leagues and March Madness, the chalk prevails most often in the NBA. Some general trends to be mindful of is that home teams who lose Game 1 – looking in your direction, Toronto – are 49-10 SU in Game 2 since 2003. Higher-seeded teams who win the first two games are also 40-111 SU in Game 3 (on the road) during that span.

Historically, No. 5 seeds win about a quarter of the time and No. 6 seeds win about 20 per cent of the time. In terms of first-round series prices, the Atlanta Hawks (+175) do stand a decent chance of knocking out John Wall and the Washington Wizards (-205), since Washington might struggle to find a defensive matchup for Hawks big man Dwight Howard.

The No. 8 seed Chicago Bulls (+405), with their savviness at point guard with ex-Celtic Rajon Rondo and former champion Dwyane Wade (who’ll have more recovery time for his 35-year-old legs), could be capable of taking out the Celtics (-500). Eighth seeds have a much better success rate than No. 7 seeds.

NBA draft betting props set out with Ayton favorite on odds for Thursday

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With DeAndre Ayton taking all the value out of the first overall pick prop, bettors will have to look at the stock on other players in the NBA draft class of 2018.

Ayton, the 7-foot center from Arizona, is an overwhelming -2000 favorite to be selected first in the NBA draft on Thursday night, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The Phoenix Suns hold the top selection and it’s seen as a given they will take Ayton, from right in their backyard.

Slovenian guard Luka Doncic is a nominal second favorite at +1200, with Michigan State power forward/center Jaren Jackson listed at +4000 and the field at +1200.

Suffice to say, bettors will need to spend the final hours on Thursday before the draft refreshing social media feeds for news about teams trading up in the draft order, since that could affect the NBA draft betting props on particular players.

Doncic, the Slovenian guard, offers some higher-risk, high-reward value at +240 to be picked at No. 2 or better (-220 for No. 3 or better). The chance of that prop hitting might rest on whether the Sacramento Kings trade down from the No. 2 spot. If the Kings hang on to it, it’s probably best to lay chalk on the -500 on Duke forward Marvin Bagley III going No. 3 or better (he’s +350 for No. 4 or later).

Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson, who slots in as the third-best big man on the board after Ayton and Bagley III, is +150 to be chosen No. 3 or better and -180 for No. 4 or later.

While the top of the draft is big man-heavy, NBA teams don’t follow the consensus of mock drafts, which means there is value in props on some of the highly-touted guards. Trae Young, who led the NCAA in scoring and assists at Oklahoma, is near even money at -110 to be picked seven or higher and could prove to be the right fit for an early-picking team such as the Orlando Magic, who own the No. 6 overall pick.

Oddsmakers love to dangle props on players with a lengthy college resume, who are coming back into favor as late first-round picks. Guard Jalen Brunson, who helped the Villanova Wildcats win two of the last three national championships, is priced at +115 to be a first-round selection.

And Duke guard Grayson Allen is a key to three props. Allen is -170 to go in the first round and +140 to be chosen in the second (or not at all). Where he falls might also be a key to the over hitting on the 5.0 total for the number of Duke and Kentucky players who go in the first round.

Allen could also secure the over on the 1.5 total on the number of seniors taken in the first round.

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, Rockets Road Betting Favorites on Friday NBA Odds

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Stephen Curry returning to the Golden State Warriors lineup means they will likely get most of the casual betting action, but their track record with tight lines on the road isn’t overly encouraging.

Up 2-0 in the series, the Warriors are 4.5-point road favorites on the NBA betting lines at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com against the New Orleans Pelicans for Friday night, with a 232.5-point total.

While the Warriors are 18-2 straight-up and 9-11 against the spread in their last 20 games against the Pelicans, the OddsShark NBA Database shows they are just 8-8 SU and 7-9 ATS in their last 16 games on the road in the playoffs when they were favored by five or fewer points.

Defending NBA champion Golden State is also 4-13 ATS in its last 17 games following a straight-up win. The Pelicans, who are led by star forward Anthony Davis and also boast a steady veteran with point guard Rajon Rondo, are riding an impressive run where they are 10-1 ATS over their last 11 games.

The first two games of the series had an extreme disparity in free throw attempts, with the Warriors taking 59 foul shots to the Pelicans’ 20. An anticipation of the calls evening out is one reason for the high total, but it’s reachable, as 10 of the last 12 games in this matchup has finished over.

The total has gone over in 21 of New Orleans’ last 30 home games, including their four most recent.

The Houston Rockets are 3.5-point road favorites against the Utah Jazz on Friday with a 209-point total in Game 3 of a series that is tied 1-1. While Houston finished first overall in the NBA regular season, star guard James Harden and company are just 1-5 ATS in their last six road games.

In contrast, the Jazz, led by rookie guard Donovan Mitchell, are 6-2 SU and ATS this season when they are an underdog at home by 4.5 or fewer points.

The Rockets are also 5-3 SU and 2-5-1 ATS in their last eight road games within the Western Conference. Beating the Jazz on their home floor is doable but won’t come easily, meaning there’s a good possibility of a grinding, one- or two-possession game.

The total has gone under in five of Houston’s last six games after a loss against the spread. The total has gone under in six of Utah’s last eight home games when it was an underdog of 4.5 or fewer points.

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.