At the trade deadline, the Golden State Warriors remain overwhelming favorites on the NBA championship odds, but oddsmakers have slightly shuffled the contenders down the board.
The Warriors, who have integrated big man DeMarcus Cousins into their lineup laden with all-stars, are now -220 favorites on those NBA futures at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. As the league trade deadline approaches, the two-time defending champions have surged to the top of the Western Conference. It is, however, arguable, that the half of the league that Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and for the last three seasons Kevin Durant have run through is not as deep as in the past.
The top teams on the board also include the Toronto Raptors (+800), Boston Celtics (+1000), Milwaukee Bucks (+1100), Los Angeles Lakers (+1100), Houston Rockets (+1300), Philadelphia 76ers (+1600), Oklahoma City Thunder (+2000), and Denver Nuggets (+2200).
The fact that Toronto has gone past the second round in the playoffs only once in their history is always a reason to be wary. The Raptors did defeat the Warriors twice before Christmas. But being 23rd in the league in three-point percentage is a bigger red flag than practicing “load management” with star forward Kawhi Leonard. The last team to vanquish the Warriors, the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers, were third in efficiency from deep in the regular season.
Similarly, the Bucks’ value is at season low after they opened at +7500. But it remains to be seen how well superstar forward Giannis Antetokounmpo will adapt to playoff defending – he makes fewer than 20 percent of his threes – or whether Milwaukee has a strong enough supporting cast around the Greek Freak.
The Philadelphia 76ers are all in on making a playoff run after swapping two first-round choices for all-star caliber forward Tobias Harris this week. The trade gives Philadelphia one of the league’s best starting lineups, and their value might never be greater than now, since many bettors took a wait-and-see approach with a team that has been assembled on the fly. Unlike the Raptors and Bucks, Philadelphia is a top-10 team in three-point shooting.
Over in the Western Conference, the Nuggets have lost a lot of their value after opening the season at +10000 at online betting sites.
There is the idea that the team that ends Golden State’s reign is more likely to do it earlier in the playoffs than later. The Nikola Jocic-led Nuggets would need home-court advantage over the Warriors in a best-of-seven conference final to truly pose a threat, and even then, they lost by 31 points at home in their last meeting with Golden State in mid-January – and that was before Cousins was cleared to play.
For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or Spotify or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.