Can the Warriors Three-Peat? Odds to Win This Year’s NBA Championship
They are the modern-day dynasty in the NBA. Golden State (-265) has been to the last four straight NBA Finals and has won three, including the past two in a row. While the Warriors will not own the NBA’s best record at the end of the regular season, they are still the outright favorite to win a third consecutive NBA title. Will it happen?
A Most Intriguing Bet
The holder of the NBA’s best record is Milwaukee, not Golden State. The Bucks were 58-20 through 78 games and have the league’s highest winning percentage (.744) and most wins. Milwaukee makes for an interesting bet with +700 odds to win it all. The Bucks are 32-6 straight up at home and have one of the league’s bona fide superstars in Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Antetokounmpo is one of the favorites to win the league’s MVP award. The Greek Freak is averaging 27.4 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game. He’s also shooting 56 percent from the floor. What makes Milwaukee even more intriguing is that they are winning without the so-called “super-team.” Antetokounmpo is a star, but the rest of the Bucks lineup is filled with over-achievers.
Milwaukee leads the NBA in scoring thanks to Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton (18.1 ppg), Eric Bledsoe (16.0 ppg), and Malcolm Brogdon (15.6 ppg). Seven-footer Brook Lopez (12.6 pp) and a healthy Nikola Mirotic (11.6 ppg) allow the Bucks to match up with virtually anyone. While the offense tears it up, it’s worth noting that Milwaukee also leads the NBA in opponent field goal percentage. The Bucks are 20-9 against teams from the West and beat Golden State at home earlier this season.
The Harden Factor
If Antetokounmpo doesn’t win the NBA MVP, it will be because Houston’s James Harden did. Harden’s 2018-19 season has been one for the ages. The reigning league MVP is averaging 36.3 points and 7.5 assists per game. The Harden-led Rockets have given the Warriors trouble in the past. Harden won’t be able to do it alone and will need a healthy Chris Paul to beat Golden State.
Paul has not been the dominating force that he has been over the previous few years, but he still averages 15.7 points and 8.1 assists a game for Houston. If Paul gets hot and Eric Gordon (16.2 ppg) continues to produce, the Rockets could stand up to the Warriors as they did last year before falling in seven games. At +850 odds, the Rockets might have trouble getting past more physical opponents like Utah and Denver but with Harden anything is possible when you’re betting basketball.
Is It Finally Toronto’s Time?
One thing is certain. The Toronto Raptors will not be eliminated from the postseason this year by Cleveland. In each of the past three seasons, the Raptors lost to the LeBron James-led Cavaliers. Without James, who is now in Los Angeles, the Cavs failed to make the postseason.
The Raptors (56-23) trade for Marc Gasol gave them exactly what they needed for a long playoff run. The 7-footer is an excellent shooter and can play serviceable defense as well. Kawhi Leonard (26.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg) and the surprising Pascal Siakam (17.0 ppg, 6.9 rpg) lead a starting lineup that can play with anyone.
Toronto is 31-9 straight up at home and with home-court advantage for at least the first two rounds of the playoffs, the Raptors are going to be tough to beat. Given +950 odds to win it all, the Raptors are one of the better defensive teams in the NBA. They are ranked in the top 10 in opponent 3-point field goal percentage. If the Raptors can get to the Finals, they could be one of the few teams that can take down the hot-shooting Warriors.
Boston Three Party
A year ago, the Celtics went to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals without Kyrie Irving or Gordon Hayward. With both players back in 2018-19, many predicted Boston to win 60 games. That didn’t happen, but the Celtics are talented enough to make a serious run for the NBA title.
Boston checks in at +950 odds to win it all and looking at their lineup you can see why. Irving (23.9 ppg, 7.0 apg) is simply outstanding. Jayson Tatum (15.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg) and Jaylen Brown (13.0 ppg) are two of the best young players in the game. Al Horford (13.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg) can matchup with bigs and stretch-4s. The bench is talented as well and, as a team, the Celtics are sixth in 3-point field goal percentage.
So, what happened to the Celtics this year? Boston is just 5-5 in its last ten games. Three of those five losses came on the road. Boston has struggled away from home this season. They are just 19-20 on the road, but the Celtics are 33-16 against conference opponents. With home-court advantage in Round 1, Boston should be okay. It will be the later rounds where Boston is going to have to play like it did last postseason to get to an NBA title.
Others to Watch
The hottest team in the NBA right now might be the Utah Jazz. They have won nine of their last ten games and have one of the best defenses in the NBA. Rudy Gobert is a force averaging 12.9 rebounds, 2.3 blocks, and 15.7 points a game. The Jazz are a longshot at +2800.
It’s hard to discount the Oklahoma City Thunder with MVP candidate Paul George and former MVP Russell Westbrook. The Thunder have lost seven of their last ten and are given +4500 odds to win an NBA title. Portland, despite losing Jusuf Nurkic to injury, is now 8-2 in its last 10 games. Good guard play can win championships and the Trail Blazers (+8500) certainly have that in Damian Lillard (26.0 ppg) and C.J. McCollum (21.3 ppg).
NBA CHAMPIONSHIP – ODDS TO WIN
Golden State -265
Oklahoma City +4500
San Antonio +8500
LA Clippers +12500
Article by Rick Bouch
Posted April 6th, 2019
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