NBA Finals Odds: Warriors enter series as favorites against Cavaliers

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Now that they are a year wiser and a Kevin Durant better, Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors are favored against the Cleveland Cavaliers in their NBA Finals rubber match.

In series prices, the Warriors are a -240 favorite against the +200 underdog Cavaliers at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. While the matchup is the same, much has changed with both teams. Golden State is coming off a run of 27-1 straight-up and 19-7-2 against the spread across its last 28 games.

For Game 1 on Thursday, the Warriors are listed as seven-point favorites over the Cavaliers with a 225.5 point total. The Warriors are 0-5-1 ATS in their last six home games after back-to-back road games, but over the longer term they are 14-5-1 ATS in their last 20 home games when they were favored by 6.0 to 9.0 points. The Cavaliers are 1-6 SU and 2-5 ATS in their last seven games as an underdog of 7.0 or fewer points.

Cleveland, which is 3-12 SU as an underdog this season, certainly didn’t see an offense of the Warriors’ caliber during their easy trip through the Eastern Conference bracket. Having to account for Durant’s shooting likely means Cleveland’s forwards, including James, won’t be able to cheat to play help defense against three-point threats such as Curry, Draymond Green or Klay Thompson, like they did last season.

Offensively, the Cavaliers’ chances rest on James and Kyrie Irving attacking the basket and reducing the impact of Green, the NBA’s best defensive player. If Cleveland has an edge in any phase, it’s in rebounding.

For Golden State, the key is making sure Green – who was suspended for the momentum-turning Game 5 defeat in 2016 – stays on task. The Cavaliers don’t particularly excel at forcing defensive turnovers, and Green has been the best playmaking forward the NBA has seen since Larry Bird. As long as Golden State limits turnovers, they should be able to stay productive offensively.

There are a couple areas of concern with the Warriors. Both Thompson and Andre Iguodola have been in shooting slumps during the playoffs. Golden State will also have to make sure Curry doesn’t expend excessive energy guarding Irving.

As far as totals go, it has gone under in six of these teams’ last 10 games, according to the OddsShark NBA Database. The total has gone over in 15 of the Cavaliers’ last 21 games. The Warriors were a pretty consistent under team (53 of 94 games overall) most of the season, but oddsmakers have adapted and the total has gone over in the Warriors’ last five games.

WNBA President Lisa Borders stepping down

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NEW YORK – WNBA President Lisa Borders is stepping down.

The league announced Tuesday she will become the first president and CEO of Time’s Up – an organization dedicated to safe, fair and dignified work for women. Borders says it was fully her decision to leave.

NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum will oversee the WNBA on an interim basis while a search for a successor begins,

Borders joined the league in 2016. She helped the WNBA grow in areas such as live streaming of games on Twitter and the availability of one-day daily fantasy.

Borders is the third executive to leave the league in the last six months. The league is coming off a season in which it had its highest TV ratings in four years. It begins its 23rd season next year.

Lakers move up NBA championship odds after LeBron James’ decision

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It’s important to remember the Golden State Warriors’ toughest challenge is just getting out of the Western Conference.

While four-time all-star forward DeMarcus (Boogie) Cousins likely won’t suit up for Golden State until late in the regular season as he rebuilds strength in a surgically repaired Achilles tendon, his signing has moved the Warriors into minus money on the NBA futures.

The two-time defending champion Warriors are a -175 favorite on the NBA championship odds for 2019 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. However, the balance of power in the NBA has moved even farther westward with LeBron James joining the Los Angeles Lakers, so it’s not a sure thing that the Warriors will be able to run a gauntlet through the conference to play in the NBA Finals for the fifth season in a row.

In both 2016 and 2018, the Warriors went the full seven games in the Western Conference Finals, going a combined 5-0 when facing elimination. That’s a tough margin to live on, even for a dynasty that will soon trot out five all-stars with Cousins, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant.

James’ decision has led to the Lakers (+650) having the fourth-best odds, although Los Angeles will have to make further acquisitions – Kawhi Leonard, perhaps – in order to transform from a 35-win also-ran into a serious challenge to Golden State.

Unlike the Eastern Conference that James dominated for nearly a decade, there are more good teams to scale over on the climb to the top. The upshot of the Lakers drawing action is that it might protect the value on challengers that came almost sadistically close to making the 2018 NBA Finals.

The Boston Celtics (+550) were minutes away from the NBA Finals last season and are looking forward to a full season from small forward Gordon Hayward and point guard Kyrie Irving, who were out much of the season while their supporting cast gained valuable on-the-job experience.

The Houston Rockets (+600) also came close to dethroning the Warriors and their current odds to win the 2019 NBA championship are enticing since they have yet to make a major offseason move, as they still have to come to terms with center-forward Clint Capela, while also hoping to add veteran small forward Carmelo Anthony.

The Philadelphia 76ers (+1600) round out the top five and could be worth a flier in conference championship futures, where the Celtics will be favorites.

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.