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.

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.