Updated NBA Championship Odds
What a bizarre NBA playoffs this has become! While the two Finals favorites (Cleveland and Golden State) are still alive, and while Cleveland now awaits the winner of Game 7 between Golden State and Oklahoma City, the Cavaliers saw their first real test of the playoffs against the Toronto Raptors, dropping Games 3 and 4 north of the border before sealing off the series in Game 6. The Warriors were absolutely run out of the gym in Oklahoma City in Games 3 and 4 after dropping Game 1 in their own gym, and they had to rely on unbelievable shooting from Klay Thompson (11 3’s in Game 6, an NBA postseason record) and an utter meltdown by the Thunder on the road in Game 6 just to make it to Game 7. Let’s take a look at the latest betting odds on the three remaining teams to win the title.
Updated NBA Championship Odds
Cleveland Cavaliers +130
Whether or not you think LeBron James is really a clutch player, when he falters he has Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love around him to pick up the pieces. That’s not really a criticism, though: Michael Jordan didn’t start winning titles until he had Scottie Pippen alongside him. Dwight Howard got his Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals but couldn’t beat the Lakers all by himself. Larry Bird had his Dennis Johnson, Robert Parish and Kevin McHale. Each of the iconic NBA stars had a supporting cast that was a lot more than bit players but were also outstanding in their own right, and King James has surrounded himself, once again, with a couple of other playmakers like he had down in Miami. The Cavaliers have had a tendency to make mental mistakes throughout the season, but those two losses in Toronto weren’t the result of Cleveland making dumb mistakes — the Raptors arguably had the best defense in the East. The fact that the Cavs were able to rout them four times in six games tells you everything you need to know about that Cleveland offense.
Golden State Warriors +180
Breezing through those 73 wins so easily almost made us forget how mentally tough the Golden State Warriors are. Maybe we forgot how tough that gauntlet of a Western Conference playoff was for them last year because we were too busy hearing about LeBron in the press as the Cavaliers made it to the Finals through the East. But they made a key defensive adjustment after Game 4 in their series with Oklahoma City, and while they gave up 111 points in Game 5, they were able to score 120, and down the stretch in Game 6, their defense was so good that the Thunder couldn’t even inbound the ball to someone on their own team, and when they brought the ball down, they were just clearing out for Russell Westbrook or Kevin Durant, and the Warriors were able to jam them with Andre Iguodala. The only reason I’m giving the Cavs an edge here odds-wise is the fragility of Stephen Curry, who is a knee sprain or an ankle tweak away from having to go back to the bench.
Oklahoma City Thunder +350
What we saw down the stretch in Game 6 was a team that had given up on itself. No one else was clearly going to be invited to join the offense besides Durant or Westbrook, despite the fact that neither could sink a shot in the last three minutes of the game. On defense, they looked slow for the first time since Game 1 of the Spurs series, as the Warriors used the extra pass to find Curry or Thompson open from downtown — and those two simply refused to miss. To win Game 7 would require an epic effort on the part of the Thunder. That is something that they are capable of doing, but it will be hard to come back from the crushing comeback defeat that they suffered in Game 6.