With the NBA set to tip off its regular season with a trifecta of high-profile games on Tuesday night, bettors are lining up to back either side of a two-horse title race.
According to the season-opening odds to win the 2017 NBA title at online sportsbook Bovada, LeBron James and his defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers (+300) are heavy favorites to take on the Golden State Warriors (-125) for the third consecutive Finals.
Along with an all-time great in James – who has won the NBA title three times in the last five years, while leading his teams to the Finals in the last six seasons – the Cavs return their core supporting cast of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, J.R. Smith, and Channing Frye. After finally ending the “Cleveland Curse” and securing his surrogate hometown’s first professional sports championship since 1964, James and the Cavs are heavy favorites to at least represent the Eastern Conference in the Finals for the third consecutive year.
If they do, the Cavs are widely expected to face the re-tooled Warriors for the third straight time, having split the last two Finals. After compiling an all-time great regular season with 73 wins – breaking the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls’ hallowed 1995-96 record of 72-10 – the Warriors went up 3-1 on James and the Cavs last June, only to blow the big lead and lose a close Game 7.
As a result of that particularly empty defeat, which ended their own run as defending champs in brutal fashion, Golden State happily welcomed Kevin Durant into the fold in a blockbuster free agent signing. The newly formed “Big Four” of Durant, sharpshooting phenom Steph Curry, superstar of any other team Klay Thompson, and defensive disruptor Draymond Green is the latest NBA “superteam” – after James himself set the mold with the Miami Heat.
The Warriors clearly have the league’s most talented starting lineup, but Durant’s signing necessitated parting ways with valuable role players. Harrison Barnes, Andrew Bogut, Leandro Barbosa, Marreese Speights, Festus Ezeli, and Brandon Rush have all departed due to salary constrictions, so Golden State’s quest to vindicate last year’s Finals collapse will be led almost exclusively by the team’s new “core four.”
Aside from these two juggernauts, the only NBA team pegged at less than 10 to 1 to win it all at Bovada is the San Antonio Spurs (+900). From there, the odds drop off precipitously, doubling for the Boston Celtics (+1800), before veering into the range of longshot even for talented teams like the Los Angeles Clippers (+2500) and the Oklahoma City Thunder (+4000).
Further illustrating the drastic disparity between the contenders and pretenders, even for the NBA’s dynastic standards, 17 of the league’s 30 franchises are tabbed at 100 to 1 or worse to unseat James and his Cavs from their throne. This middling group includes perennial playoff teams like the Miami Heat (+10000), the Atlanta Hawks (+10000), the Houston Rockets (+10000), and the Dallas Mavericks (+20000).
Five teams will be bringing up the rear at 500 to 1 underdogs – the Denver Nuggets, Sacramento Kings, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, and Brooklyn Nets.
The full table of title odds for all 30 NBA teams can be found below:
2017 NBA Championship Odds at Bovada
|Team||NBA Title Odds on 10/25|
|Golden State Warriors||-125|
|San Antonio Spurs||+900|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||+4000|
|Portland Trail Blazers||+7500|
|New Orleans Pelicans||+10000|