Last week at this time we looked at the playoff scenario in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. Today, we head West to figure out if anybody can stop Golden State from rolling to another championship.
The short answer from betting markets is NO!
Golden State is now a prohibitive favorite to advance past the Houston Rockets after winning its two home games. Golden State is now -700 at the Westgate in Las Vegas to win the series (risk $700 just to win $100, or anything in that ratio). Houston returns +500 for bettors that love longshots.
Though the Rockets match up well with the Warriors, there’s a difference between being competitive (losing by only four and six points at Oracle) and being good enough to win four out of five remaining games outright.
Golden State will be a virtual toss-up in any game played in Houston (assume “half” a win for now)…then will be close to 2/1 to win the fifth and seventh games at home if the series goes that far (assume “two-thirds” of a win for now). From a 2-0 head start, that’s an expectation of 4.84 wins for the Warriors, just 2.16 for the Rockets were the teams to play seven full games.
Of course, there’s more work to do in the West after this series. Assuming Golden State advances, it will play the winner of the other second round matchup featuring the Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers. While that could be a very exciting series on its own, the eventual winner will be large underdogs vs. the Warriors. The talent just isn’t there for either to scare Golden State unless major injuries complicate the picture.
A global composite of futures prices shows Golden State about -400 to win the West, about -200 to win the league championship.
Are you thinking of taking any flyers against the Warriors the rest of the way? The payoff would be nice. Just remember that the Golden State roster is talented on both sides of the floor. The mainstream media focuses on the potent offense, and the scoring exploits of “The Splash Brothers” Steph Curry and Klay Thompson along with their teammate Kevin Durant. It’s less commonly known that Golden State plays great defense when focused and motivated.
Sharps (professional bettors) measure defense using points allowed per possession (which is important for clean reads of fast-paced teams), blocked shots, forced turnovers, and defensive rebounds, you’ll see that “defense wins championships” has held true through the current Golden State era. This season’s bunch has some issues with focus…but that may just mean more losses on the way to 16 playoff wins rather than a failure to reach 16 playoff wins.
▪ NBA action in the Eastern Conference resumes Thursday night with Toronto at Philadelphia, the Friday night with Milwaukee at Boston. Both series are tied at one game apiece after splits at the home sites of pre-series favorites. Despite those surprising service breaks, Toronto and Milwaukee are still series favorites.
At the Westgate in Las Vegas, Toronto is -200 to advance past Philadelphia (who returns +170). Milwaukee is -210 to advance past Boston (who returns +175).
That said, Philadelphia and Boston could flip the series math their way by winning their home openers at point spreads near pick-em. Watching any NBA playoff series from a market perspective gives you a deeper sense of the challenges each team is facing.
▪ If you’re following the NHL Playoffs, you’ve noticed that expectations have turned upside down. The San Jose Sharks were on the verge of elimination in the first round against the Vegas Golden Knights. Now, they’re the betting favorite to win the Stanley Cup (+300 at the Westgate) in a crowded field of hopefuls.
Boston entered the second round as league favorites, but dropped two of its first three games against Columbus. That while the New York Islanders were suffering shocking losses to Carolina. The early Eastern longshots are now the favorites, though the volatility of NHL action means that anything could still happen.
History had made it clear that it’s much easier to win series bets with underdogs in the NHL than in the NBA.