When the NBA season tipped off back in late October, online sportsbook Bovada installed the Golden State Warriors as heavy favorites, followed by the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
The rest of the league was listed well behind these two super-teams, and for good reason.
After trouncing their respective playoff competition, the Warriors and Cavaliers are set to contest the rubber match in their third consecutive NBA Finals meeting.
Led by the usual suspects of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, the Warriors’ addition of Kevin Durant spurred another league-leading regular season record at 67-15. The fearsome foursome has also powered a clean sweep through the playoffs thus far, and sporting a 12-0 record in the postseason, Golden State is playing at the peak of their abilities as the Finals loom.
The Cavaliers aren’t slouching in their first-ever title defense, and while their 51-31 regular season record led to a second-seed placement, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving have combined to fuel a 12-1 postseason run.
Since the beginning, the 2016-17 season has seemed like nothing but a formality, setting the scene for an epic clash between the last two NBA champions. But now that the Finals are set in stone, Bovada clearly favors one superteam over the other.
Just one day before Game 1 begins, the Cavaliers are listed as heavy underdogs at (+7; +240). Of course, the 16-game gap in terms of regular season record should surely put Golden State at the head of the line, and they’ll be playing in the comfortable confines of Oracle Arena. But considering Cleveland’s championship pedigree, and awe-inspiring presence that James provides, a seven-point spread may come as a surprise to many bettors.
For those who favor total wagers, the Over / Under for Game 1 is at 226, with Over bettors facing (-115) odds while Under wagers receive (-105).
As for series prices, Bovada clearly favors Golden State (-240) to avenge last year’s unprecedented loss of a 3-1 lead.
Cleveland (+200), on the other hand, offers incredible odds for a defending champion – especially one without any significant losses via injury or free agency.
Given the extended rest enjoyed by Golden State courtesy of their three consecutive sweeps, proponents of the “ring rust” theory may favor a first-half wager and a fast start by Cleveland, as the Cavs are getting (+4) over the first 24 minutes.
Prop bets on personal performance are among the most popular on the postseason slate, and the NBA Finals are no exception.
If you like LeBron James to record a double-double, Bovada lists the odds at (-150), while a “No” vote offers (+120). And while the “Yes” wager would seem to be a shoe-in, as James is the best basketball player on the planet, the oddsmakers may have missed the mark here.
Through 13 games in the postseason, James has only recorded four double-doubles. Sure, he’s averaging 32.5 points with 8.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists in the 2017 playoffs, but even those gaudy stats wouldn’t ensure a win on this wager.
You can also back Steph Curry to put up a double-double line at (+500), with the “No” side offering (-800). As the odds suggest, that would be a longshot though, as Curry hasn’t recorded double-digit rebounds or assists through 12 postseason games.
A more intriguing prop bet is based on total points for Game 1, so consider James at 31.5 (O -115 / U -105) and Curry at 26.5 (O -130 / U-EVEN) for some scoreboard scanning action.