For three years and counting the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers have formed a two-team race atop the NBA Championship futures betting market.
That pattern held at the beginning of the 2018 season, when the defending champion Dubs (+100) and runner-up Cavs (+500) opened as the clear favorites to face off in their fourth consecutive NBA Finals. And while the regular season has been relegated to a glorified scrimmage in years past, the current campaign’s unpredictable nature has upended the odds – if only slightly.
With the NBA taking the week off for All-Star Game festivities, online sportsbook Bovada still has Golden State (-175) as the overwhelming favorite to win their third ring in four years. But in a refreshing change of pace, a fellow Western Conference juggernaut in the Houston Rockets (+400) offers the next best odds to win it all.
The most recent edition of the Warriors has ridden its core four – Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green – to a 44-14 record and a +8.1 point differential. Both are second-best, however, as the high-octane Rockets have seamlessly integrated Chris Paul into head coach Mike D’Antoni’s run and gun offense. Houston sits atop the West by a half-game at 44-13, and their +8.7 point differential is the best in all of basketball.
As for Cleveland (+600), the team’s odds to win a title may not have changed all that much, but the roster itself is almost completely different nowadays. Following the trade of Kyrie Irving for Isaiah Thomas, the Cavs experienced a few months of upheaval and ugly basketball. The team suffered through multiple losing streaks, while enduring a war of words in the locker room, and even in the media.
An ambitious trade deadline plan spearheaded by LeBron James saw former sidekick Dwyane Wade shipped out, along with a disgruntled Thomas, and bench pieces like Channing Frye, Derrick Rose, and Jae Crowder. The new-look Cleveland squad – which now includes newly added role players George Hill, Rodney Hood, Larry Nance Jr., and Jordan Clarkson – proceeded to win three straight games over playoff contenders, and on the road no less.
Today, the Cavs sit at 34-22, but their barely perceptible point differential of just +0.2 puts them in line with the New Orleans Pelicans rather than the league’s elite.
Cleveland’s post-trade winning jag included an impressive win over the Boston Celtics (+1200), the next team on the Bovada title odds totem pole. Boston has overcome the opening night loss of Gordon Hayward to the tune of a 40-19 record, with Irving providing emphatic proof of his ability to be a top team’s number one option.
Next up on the betting board is the Toronto Raptors (+1600), a team that finally seems to have put it all together after a few years as a fringe contender. In fact, the Raps lead the East with a 41-16 record, and they hit the break riding a seven-game win streak. And at +8.5, the Raptors are the only team aside from the Warriors and Rockets with a point differential higher than +3.5 – showing they can score in bunches with the game’s best.
The Oklahoma City Thunder (+2000) and San Antonio Spurs (+3300) are the only other teams offering better than 66 to 1, so the league is still as stratified as ever.
As of now, 10 teams have been stricken from the board altogether – the Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, L.A. Lakers, Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, and Orlando Magic.
See below for all the info on the 20 remaining contenders for the NBA title, as currently listed on Bovada:
2018 NBA Title Odds on Bovada
|Team||NBA Championship Odds on 2/19|
|Golden State Warriors||-175|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||+2000|
|San Antonio Spurs||+3300|
|Portland Trail Blazers||+30000|
|Los Angeles Clippers||+50000|
|New Orleans Pelicans||+50000|