After setting the NBA record for the most regular-season wins in league history, you might think the Golden State Warriors (73-9) would be the biggest favorites in the first round of the playoffs. But that is not the case, according to series prices released Thursday at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.
Instead, the biggest favorites on the betting board to advance are the San Antonio Spurs (67-15), who are the second-seeded team in the Western Conference behind the top-seeded Warriors.
The Spurs are massive -11000 chalk (bet $11,000 to win $100) against the seventh-seeded Memphis Grizzlies (42-40), a depleted squad playing without four starters from the start of the season.
The Grizzlies are extra-large +2100 underdogs (bet $100 to win $2100) and lost all four meetings with San Antonio this year, going 1-3 against the spread. Memphis also dropped 15 of 20 games down the stretch but went 10-10 ATS.
Golden State begins defense of its NBA championship by playing the same opponent from the 2015 Western Conference Finals. The eighth-seeded Houston Rockets (41-41) were 15 wins worse this season than a year ago, which is the difference between finishing first in the Southwest Division and just squeaking into the postseason.
The Rockets won one game versus the Warriors in their last playoff matchup and are +1800 underdogs this time around. Golden State is a giant -8000 favorite and has won 12 of the past 13 meetings against Houston straight-up with a 9-4 mark ATS.
The main reason the Rockets have the same 300/1 odds to win the NBA title as the sixth-seeded Dallas Mavericks (42-40) is because upsetting the Warriors would put them in a somewhat favorable position for a second-round matchup versus either the fourth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers (53-29) or fifth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers (44-38).
The Grizzlies (1000/1) have the longest championship odds of any team in the postseason field at the SuperBook, and rightfully so. They do not have much of a shot at beating the Spurs in one game, let alone the series.
The competitiveness in the Eastern Conference is much greater, with the eighth-seeded Detroit Pistons (44-38) possessing the biggest odds of any team to win the title at 200/1.
The Pistons must first take on the top-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers (57-25) as +1100 underdogs to win their opening-round series. Cleveland is listed at -2500 to move on past the first round and 3/1 to win the city’s first championship in any sport since 1964.
The other three first-round playoff matchups in the East all have smaller series prices than any of those in the West.
The second-seeded Toronto Raptors (56-26) are -290 favorites against the seventh-seeded Indiana Pacers (45-37), who are +245 underdogs. The third-seeded Miami Heat (48-34) are -150 versus a Charlotte Hornets team with the same record that is +130.
The fourth-seeded Atlanta Hawks (48-34) are -165 playing a Boston Celtics squad that also owns an identical mark and is +145.
The Raptors and Heat have the best shot at upsetting the Cavs if they end up meeting in the Eastern Conference Finals at 9/2 and 10/1 odds, respectively. Cleveland went 2-4 against them combined. Toronto is also 25/1 to win the NBA title while Miami is 40/1.