When the NBA’s regular season tipped off way back in October, online sportsbook Bovada listed the Golden State Warriors as heavy favorites – better than even money in fact – to dethrone the Cleveland Cavaliers as champions.
The Cavs weren’t far behind at 3 to 1 against, while the San Antonio Spurs were the only other team in basketball offered better than 10 to 1.
Fast forward nearly six months, with 82 regular season games in the books, and not much has changed.
With the playoffs set to begin on Saturday, bettors at Bovada are faced with a nearly identical set of lines.
The Warriors (-160), with Kevin Durant finally back in the fold following an extended injury absence, are listed as massive favorites.
Anytime a squad is better than even money to prevail in four straight seven-game series, they’re clearly tabbed by oddsmakers as being head and shoulders above the competition.
And this Golden State team can certainly claim to be just that. A gaudy 67-15 record can’t quite match last year’s historic 73-9 run, but it still led the loaded West by six games. Throw in an 11.6 positive point differential, best in basketball by more than five points, and Steph Curry and Co. have all engines go for a trip to their third straight Finals.
If they make it, Bovada leans towards a rematch against Cleveland (+333) to complete an epic championship trilogy for the two juggernauts.
By sticking to a rest-oriented strategy late in the year, motivated by the extended swoons suffered by superstars LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, the Cavs (51-31) dropped the East’s top-seed by two games to the Boston Celtics (53-29).
But to illustrate the oddsmakers’ bullish view on Cleveland’s chances, those Celtics (+1600) offer odds nearly five times worse than the team they surpassed in the regular season.
Simply put, in the East, it’s LeBron and then everybody else.
As for the third wheel in this title tango, San Antonio (+600) seems to be, once again, the only team within striking distance.
Only the aforementioned Celtics and the Houston Rockets (+1600) are better than 20 to 1, and after the Toronto Raptors (+3300), every other playoff “contender” is a 40 to 1 shot or worse.
And the Spurs truly deserve to be so far ahead of that class.
Under the steady leadership of Gregg Popovich, they were the only team aside from Golden State to eclipse the 60-win barrier (61-21). San Antonio finished a full five games better than any non-Warriors team in the West, and eight games higher than the East-leading Celtics.
Bettors looking for longshots offering value will likely look to Toronto, a team riding an 8-2 wave of momentum and four straight wins to close the year.
At 51-31, Canada’s hardwood heroes tied Cleveland’s regular season record, and they should be a cinch to down the Milwaukee Bucks (+25000) in the first round. That would likely set up a second-round clash with the Cavs, so beating those (+3300) odds will require a high degree of difficulty.
For the latest odds on each of the NBA’s 16 title contenders, as currently offered by Bovada, check the table below:
2017 NBA Title Odds
|Team||NBA Title Odds on 4/13|
|Golden State Warriors||-160|
|San Antonio Spurs||+600|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||+6600|
|Portland Trail Blazers||+30000|