Western Conference Finals Likely to Determine NBA Champ, Oddsmakers Say
Posted on: May 12, 2018, 10:30h.
Last updated on: May 12, 2018, 12:05h.
The conference finals tip off Sunday and Monday, and oddsmakers in Las Vegas feel the winner that prevails out of the West will ultimately win the NBA Finals.
The NBA Playoffs are down to its final four, with the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets doing battle in the Western Conference, and Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics dueling in the East for a second straight year.
The defending champion Warriors are favorites against the Rockets, with the Westgate SuperBook putting them at -200 in the best-of-seven series. That’s implied odds of roughly 67 percent, with a $100 bet netting $50 should Golden State reach the Finals for the fourth consecutive year.
Cleveland is an even stronger favorite in its conference finals matchup against Boston. The Cavs’ odds are at -300, with a $100 bet netting just $33.33.
As for the Finals, bettors believe the Warriors remain the team to beat.
Golden State is at -140 to win the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy. Houston is next at +250, then it’s Cleveland +500 and Boston long at +2000.
Warriors Hit Road
Despite being the favorite in their conference finals, the Golden State Warriors will play their first game one on the road since their NBA reign began during the 2015 season.
James Harden’s Rockets, which added Chris Paul for this year and finished with the best regular season record in the NBA at 65-17, has home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. Warriors coach Steve Kerr admits that’s a change for his team that’s won two of the last three NBA titles, but believes his squad will be ready.
“They are taking the challenge and they’re embracing it,” Kerr told reporters. “We seem to be at our best when we are threatened. And we’re definitely threatened.”
Some believe the Rockets are actually the better team. FiveThirtyEight computer projections give Houston a 79 percent chance of winning the series.
Kerr isn’t overly worried. “Our guys have rings,” the coach stated. “That’s a good position to be in. The hardest championship is the first one. Once you get the first one, there’s a little bit of house money.”
Cleveland is playing its best ball of the year, and after a season filled with roster changers, has finally seemed to find its groove. The Celtics would be a better foe should its superstar Kyrie Irving, who requested a trade from the Cavs after last season, not be out for the playoffs due to injury.
Cavs star Kevin Love said the series would be different with Irving, but the Celtics remain more than capable of upsetting the three-time Eastern Conference champs.
“That would have definitely changed the series, but that’s not taking away from anything they’ve done,” Love declared. “A number of those guys have stepped up, especially in their backcourt. ‘Scary’ Terry Rozier has played great for them.”
“LeBron is on just a ridiculous run of play,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens added. “We know it will be quite a challenge.”
James is averaging over 34 points, 9.4 rebounds, and nine assists per game in the playoffs.