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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.

 

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.