Thanks to an ascendant Toronto Raptors, a banged up Golden State Warriors, and a hotly contested push for playoff position in both conferences, betting odds for the NBA season are more interesting now than they have been all season.
First of all, it should be mentioned that if you are going to bet on the Warriors to win it all, it is worth thinking about doing it now. With all the injuries that they have sustained in the last couple of weeks, plus losing the #1 seed to the Houston Rockets, there has been a significant dip in their odds to win. We know Steph Curry is out for the first round, but Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson will be fresh off the IR by the time playoffs start, so that should give the Warriors some push in the initial stage of the playoffs.
The questions that remain are whether or not the Warriors can avoid an upset in the first round and overcome the loss of home court advantage to the Rockets, should they meet in the Western Conference finals. It is at least worth noting that the Warriors’ only win against Houston has come on the road, a 124-114 win back on January 4th. Should the Warriors make it out of the first round ok and be running on all cylinders by the time they face Houston, they will have a good chance at a Championship.
As for the rest of the league, there are a wealth of interesting scenarios going into the playoffs that should yield big wins for those looking to make a leap of faith. Toronto’s hot run here in the last half of the season has them locked into 1st place in the East, but Boston is not too far behind them points wise, and we all know that the East will depend greatly on what LeBron and company are able to do in Cleveland. The Calvs are in a race for 3rd place in the East with the 76’ers, who are in the playoffs for the first time in six years.
The third place spot will be important, as it means facing a injury-laden Boston squad who is stumbling into the postseason rather than the red-hot Raptors. If the Calvs can secure that 3rd spot, it greatly increases their chances of making it back to the Finals, and anyone who has paid attention in the last decade knows that LeBron has quite a bit of finals experience.
That being said, betting on the Calvs is not a sure thing like it was the last three-years. Both Boston and Toronto pose a very formidable threat to the Calvs, who were 3-2 combined against those teams during the regular season, but suffered some pretty significant margins in each of the losses, dropping a January 11th contest to Toronto 133-99 after suffering a 102-88 loss to the Celtics a week earlier.