Stephen Curry

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.

Defending champion Warriors favored over Cavaliers in NBA Finals

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After overcoming a 3-1 series deficit to eliminate the Oklahoma City Thunder with a 96-88 victory in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals, the Golden State Warriors will once again face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals as -220 favorites on the NBA series prices at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

In addition to posting three consecutive straight-up wins to knock off the Thunder, the Warriors have also halted a worrisome 2-5 run against the spread, rewarding bettors by covering in the final three games of the Western Finals.

As well, Golden State gets the nod from oddsmakers in the series opener, pegged as 5.5-point chalk for Thursday night’s Cavaliers vs. Warriors betting matchup at Oracle Arena.

Overall, the Warriors have been a strong bet on home court during the playoffs, going 8-2 ATS in 10 contests while being favored by an average of 9.3 points per game, but it has been three months since the Warriors were favored at home by so few points.

Golden State failed to cover a 5.5-point spread in a 109-105 over the Atlanta Hawks on March 1 and are just 1-2 ATS at home this season when favored by fewer than seven points, including an ATS loss to Cleveland as 6.5-point chalk in an 89-83 win on Christmas Day.

Two-time reigning regular-season MVP Stephen Curry has emerged as the favorite on the odds to win the NBA Finals MVP, topping Cavaliers superstar LeBron James with -125 odds on the player props boards at the sportsbooks.

James makes his sixth straight appearance in the NBA Finals sporting +225 odds of claiming NBA Finals MVP honors for a third time, while the Cavaliers sit at +180 on the series prices.

Cleveland has appeared in the NBA Finals on two previous occasions, getting swept by the San Antonio Spurs in 2007 followed by a six-game loss to Golden State a year ago.

The Cavaliers needed six games to get past Toronto in the Eastern Conference Finals, disposing of the upstart Raptors with blowout victories in Games 5 and 6 to set the stage for their NBA Finals rematch with the Warriors.

James and company had won 10 straight SU to open the postseason, but have been a lukewarm bet on the road, going 3-4 ATS in seven outings, all as favorites.

The Cavaliers must also overcome a brutal recent record against Golden State, going 4-13 SU in their past 17 games against the Warriors, 6-11 ATS, including five straight losses since capturing Games 2 and 3 of last year’s NBA Finals, their only consecutive wins against Golden State since January 2010.

The NBA Finals tips off in Oakland on Thursday night, and oddsmakers like the matchup so much they’re predicting it will happen again next season – the Warriors and the Cavaliers are the top choices on the early odds to win the 2017 NBA Finals at the sportsbooks.

Steph Curry gives kid his shoes after dropping 51 on Magic

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Here’s yet another example of Steph Curry being an all-around good dude.

After dropping 51 on the Orlando Magic, including this half-court shot at the buzzer and setting a record for most consecutive games with a three, Curry took his shoes off and gave them to a young Warriors fan who had a sign saying it was his birthday.

Happy birthday, kid.