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.

 

Golden State Warriors heavy favorites on 2019 NBA title odds

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Oddsmakers are tabbing the Golden State Warriors as the favorite to win their third NBA championship in a row, while the rest of the field is pegged to where LeBron James decides to play next season.

The Warriors are +125 favorites on the 2019 NBA championship odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Golden State’s latest title was capped off by sweeping the James-led Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, but getting to that stage was by no means a sure thing as it had to defeat the Houston Rockets in Game 7 on the road in the Western Conference Finals.

Nevertheless, with the star quartet of guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson and forwards Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson locked into place, the Warriors look as unsurpassable as ever. Despite Curry and Durant missing chunks of last season with injuries, the Warriors have still averaged 66 regular-season wins over the last four years.

James is expected to leave the Cavaliers by opting out of his contract, which for futures betting purposes at this point means that one team is significantly undervalued. One other scenario that is floating around involves James foregoing free agency and setting up a trade to the Houston Rockets (+500), where he could team up with guards Chris Paul and James Harden to join the team that had the NBA’s best regular-season record.

However, the Los Angeles Lakers (+700) are considered the front-runner to sign James as a free agent. Going to California offers him a chance to consolidate basketball and business interests, while the Lakers also have the salary-cap flexibility to add other stars and give James a strong enough supporting cast to challenge Golden State.

The Philadelphia 76ers (+500), with their young nucleus that includes center Joel Embiid and forward Ben Simmons, are also expected to make a pitch to James. As an Eastern Conference team, the 76ers also offer the benefit of not having to see the Warriors before the NBA Finals. There has been scant report of James having interest in the Boston Celtics (+600), whose betting value likely rests in Eastern Conference champion betting futures.

As the NBA Finals, and even the previous playoff rounds revealed, the Cavaliers (+2500) don’t have the pieces to win another championship, so it’s probably best to fade them. Other longer shots on the odds to win the NBA championship in the season ahead include the San Antonio Spurs (+2500), Miami Heat (+4000) and Toronto Raptors (+6600).

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 double-digit betting favorites for Game 1 of NBA Finals

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The Golden State Warriors, led by Stephen Curry, have one of the largest lines they have seen in their long-running rivalry with the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James.

The Warriors are 12.5-point NBA betting favorites against the Cavaliers with 214.5-point total for the opener of the NBA Finals on Thursday at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Since James rejoined Cleveland in 2014 the largest closing line that the Warriors have faced against Cleveland was 13.5 during a January 2015 game, according to the OddsShark NBA Database. In that time, the Warriors are 11-3 straight-up and 9-4-1 against the spread in home games against the Cavaliers, and nine of those 14 matchups have seen the total finish under, with two pushes.

Thanks to a signature dominant postseason performance from James, the Cavaliers are back in the NBA Finals, although they are just 4-7 SU and 4-6-1 ATS in their 11 most recent road games during the playoffs (including a portion of the 2017 NBA Finals against the Warriors)

For this Game 1, and possibly longer, James will not see his regular defensive shadow on the Warriors, Andre Iguodala. Kevin Love (concussion), the only other Cleveland player averaging more than 10 points per game in the playoffs, is questionable for Thursday night.

It’s always hard to pick against King James, but it is worth noting the Cavaliers are 8-22 SU and 9-20-1 ATS in their last 30 road games against Western Conference teams.

The Warriors, for all the scoring punch and defensive prowess of the big four of Curry, guard Klay Thompson and forwards Kevin Durant and Draymond Green, can get in their own way with turnovers, averaging 13.7 during their three losses against the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Finals..

That issue is probably why Golden State is 1-6 ATS in its last seven games against Eastern teams, but the law of averages would suggest a team as good as Golden State is more apt to reverse such an outlying trend.

Cleveland got away with giving up an abundance of clean looks on three-point shots during its last series against the Boston Celtics and, of course, the Warriors shoot from deep early and often. That will probably be the determinant in whether the Warriors, who are 17-1 SU and 6-12 ATS in their last 18 home games during the playoffs as a favorite of 10 or more points, can cover the huge spread.

The total has gone under in the Cavaliers’ last four road games. The total has gone under in 11 of the Warriors’ last 18 home games during the playoffs as a favorite of at least 10.5 points. The total has gone under in eight of the Warriors’ last 10 games against Eastern Conference teams.

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.