The Golden State Warriors were the heavy favorites to win the NBA Championship before and during the season. Now that they know who they are facing in the finals, nothing has changed.
Golden State was the 5/4 favorite before the season began, and despite dipping a bit to 9/4 during the year, the team is firmly the choice of oddsmakers going into Thursday’s opening game.
Caesars had the biggest odds at -320, followed by the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook at -310. SuperBook executive director John Murray told ESPN that they opened at -275, but quickly adjusted the line higher after bets started coming in on the defending champs.
Their opponent, the Toronto Raptors, began the season at 14/1, and during the season were at 9/1. During last week’s Eastern Conference Finals, the Raptors were still getting 9/1. Now they are at +230 to upset the Warriors.
No Durant, No Problem
Murray and others sportsbook operators said the price started lower because there were concerns about forward Kevin Durant playing in the series. The forward, who was recently named to the All-NBA team, injured his calf in the third quarter of Game 5 of their second-round NBA playoff series against the Houston Rockets.
Durant has not played since leaving that game, but the Warriors have not missed him. The team is 5-0 since the injury, and as long as Steph Curry is playing, the team is a virtual lock. They are 31-1 in games that Durant missed, but Curry played.
There has been criticism from some that the Warriors are a better team without Durant, but Curry immediately dismissed that theory as nonsense. He told reporters Friday that it is just a different style, but same results.
“Nobody can be happy when people are playing well, that’s the part to me that’s the most surprising,” Curry said. “If KD is playing well it’s all ‘oh they’re playing a different style and it’s not as fun to watch’ or it’s he’s out and we’re winning games and it’s ‘are we better or more fun’ or whatever the question is. We hear it all the time. We’re a great team, because everybody who puts on a uniform goes out and competes at a high level. There’s a little bit of sacrifice, but at the end of the day, it’s all about winning.”
Opening Game on Road
The Warriors had the third best record in the league this year, and as a result Toronto has home court advantage in the finals. The Warriors find themselves a 1-point underdog in the first game, with the over/under at 215.
Bettors shouldn’t be too concerned with the Warriors venturing into enemy territory for the first game. Since 2015, Golden State is 18-1 straight up in the openers.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said even with his team banged up, they are confident they can win their fourth title in five years.
“We’d like to have everybody healthy, that’s for sure,” Kerr said. “If not, our guys have done a great job of finding ways to win. We have a very deep team and a lot of guys who have played in the championship round.”
Toronto, though, is a respectable 8-2 in these playoffs, and Kawhi Leonard said the team is ready for the Warriors.
“It’s great. I worked so hard to get to this point with the season I had last year, just always betting on myself and knowing what I feel and what’s right for me,” Leonard said. “I ended up coming here with a great group of guys, a lot of talent. And I just strived with them every day. I just kind of bought into their system.”