There will be an occasional first-round upset in the NBA postseason, but the cream almost always rises to the top in terms of crowning a champion. The league started seeding the playoffs in 1983-84, and the only team in that span to win the title as a No. 4 seed or worse was the 1995 Houston Rockets.
Thus, one might consider avoiding championship bets on these East teams (Nos. 5-8): Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks and Washington Wizards. In the West, the Utah Jazz, New Orleans Pelicans, San Antonio Spurs and Minnesota Timberwolves are probably out of luck.
The favorite on the NBA championship odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com, just as it was last June and when the season began, is Golden State at +135.
The Warriors, winners of two of the past three NBA Finals, weren’t their usual dominant selves this season with “only” 58 wins and second in the Western Conference, but they were hit by injuries. Two-time MVP Steph Curry has played just one game since March 8 and isn’t expected to go in the first round against the No. 7 San Antonio Spurs.
The Warriors are -1250 on the NBA playoff series prices, a number that would be much different if San Antonio had its superstar, Kawhi Leonard. He has played just nine games and isn’t expected to return for the postseason.
What more does Houston have to do to be favored for an NBA title or in the West? Led by likely NBA MVP James Harden, the Rockets won a franchise-record 65 games and could have reached 70 if they didn’t let up late in the season with the top seed clinched. Houston also led the NBA with a point differential of plus-8.5. Yet, the Rockets are only +160 second-favorites for the NBA title and second in the West at +110.
Could this be the last postseason for LeBron James in a Cleveland Cavaliers uniform? He could leave as a free agent this summer if the Cavs don’t reach at least the NBA Finals again. James-led teams have won an amazing seven straight Eastern Conference titles. Despite being the fourth seed this time around, Cleveland is the +125 East favorite and is +650 on the NBA title odds.
The East No. 1 Toronto Raptors, likely looking at a second-round matchup with the Cavaliers, are +155 to win the first conference title in franchise history. The only other team below +2000 to win the East is the red-hot Philadelphia 76ers, the third seed, at +500.
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 listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.
Source: Heavy Sports