Warriors Expect Curry Back Soon, Remain Favorites to Win NBA Title
The top-seeded Golden State Warriors had no problem routing the fifth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers 118-106 in Game 1 of their second-round playoff series in the Western Conference on Sunday without leading scorer Stephen Curry.
News that Curry hopes to return for Game 3 in Portland has only strengthened the odds of the defending NBA champion Warriors to win back-to-back titles, as they are now +100 favorites at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook as of Monday, down from +125 late last week.
Klay Thompson stepped up in Curry’s absence with a playoff career-high 37 points in the series opener against the Blazers, making 14-of-28 shots from the field, including 7-of-14 from three-point range. Draymond Green also turned in a triple-double of 23 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists while Golden State’s other three starters each scored in double figures as well to help overcome Damian Lillard’s 30 points.
Lillard, a Bay Area native, has struggled with his shot when visiting Oakland, as he made only 8-of-26 attempts. Teammate C.J. McCollum added just 12 points on 5-of-17 shooting.
The second-seeded San Antonio Spurs remain the main competition for the Warriors at +200 to win their sixth NBA championship and second in three years. The Spurs destroyed the third-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder 124-92 in Game 1 of their second-round series on Saturday behind a game-high 38 points from LaMarcus Aldridge.
San Antonio led 73-40 at halftime and 105-66 at the end of three quarters, with Aldridge making 18-of-23 shots from the floor after averaging only 14.5 points in the first round versus the seventh-seeded Memphis Grizzlies. If Curry does not return to form when he comes back or suffers another injury, the Spurs figure to become the favorites.
However, the Eastern Conference’s top-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers are +300 to win the title and might have an edge in the NBA Finals if they can get there for the second consecutive year, which seems more than likely. Cleveland’s LeBron James has played in the league’s championship series each of the past five years, and he looks to have an easier path with more help this time around.
The Cavaliers entered Game 1 against the Atlanta Hawks on Monday as -500 favorites to advance, and James has torched last year’s top seed in the East in leading his team to seven straight wins in the series. Cleveland did not have Kevin Love available after the first round last season due to a dislocated shoulder while point guard Kyrie Irving fractured his kneecap late in Game 1 of the 2015 NBA Finals.
With James, Love and Irving all healthy, the Cavs look to be a formidable foe for any of the other teams left in the East, as they are heavy -325 favorites to get back to the championship round.
The second-seeded Toronto Raptors are -160 favorites to knock out the third-seeded Miami Heat in the other Eastern Conference semifinal matchup, but both teams are longshots to win the NBA title. The Raptors are the +550 second choice to win the East and +4000 to win the championship with the Heat at +700 and +5000, respectively.