The conference finals are done and dusted in the NBA and the two finalists have been decided! The Toronto Raptors and the Golden State Warriors will kick off the 2019 NBA Finals series this Friday (AEST) with Game 1 to be played in Toronto.
We will be focusing on Game 1 in our preview today but you can check out our full series preview and betting tips here.
After finishing the season with a 58-24 record, second to only the Bucks, the Raptors earned the right to host the first two games of the finals. Game 1 will kick off at 11am on Friday (AEST).
The big story heading into the finals is the injury cloud surrounding the Warriors star forward and back to back finals MVP Kevin Durant. Durant suffered a calf injury in Game 5 of the Warriors second round matchup against the Rockets and missed the entire Western Conference Finals sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers. Durant is expected to be out for the first two games of the finals, but that could change if the Warriors lose Game 1 by a big margin.
Golden State didn’t really miss Durant in the Western Conference Finals as they breezed through the Portland Trail Blazers, winning 4-0 in dominant fashion. Two time MVP point guard, Stephen Curry, averaged a monster 36.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 7.3 assists in the series while Draymond Green looked back to his defensive best.
Without Durant, the Warriors ball movement and team defence looked like it did in the first two seasons of the dynasty and many argue that they are actually a more rounded team sans the superstar forward. Durant won’t be back for Game 1 on Friday but another all-star could be in centre DeMarcus Cousins, who hasn’t played since Game 2 of the first round matchup against the Clippers.
Klay Thompson will have a massive job this series as he attempts to stem the production of Kawhi Leonard. Andre Igoudala is also battling a calf injury that currently has him listed as a game time decision for Game 1. He could help carry the load defensively on Leonard, but expect Thompson’s offensive production to take a hit early in the series.
The Raptors looked down and out of the Eastern Conference Finals after losing the first two games away from home to the Milwaukee Bucks. They pulled out a miraculous overtime win in Game 3 and then went on to win the next three games in a row to advance to their first ever finals series.
Kawhi Leonard has dominated throughout the playoffs, averaging 31.2 points and 8.8 rebounds in 18 games. He has been the driving force for the Raptors on both offence and defence and without Durant in the line-up for Game 1, should run rampant on the defensive end.
While the Warriros and Raptors faced off twice in the regular season, with Toronto winning both games, Kawhi Leonard only played in one of the matchups. In that game, he scored 37 points on 14/24 shooting for a monster night.
The Raptors start as slight favourites at home for Friday’s game, which is justified given their two regular season wins over the Warriors and their great form in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Raptors shouldn’t be overawed by the situation either, both Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard have been to and won a finals series before while the rest of the team boasts real playoff experience.
Incredibly tough match to call here. Without Durant, we think these two teams are so evenly matched. The one thing we keep coming back to is the defence of Kawhi Leonard. He has the ability to guard whichever Warriors star is hot at the time, and will no doubt help put the clamps on Stephen Curry at times throughout the series.
The last time Leonard played the Warriors in a playoff game was back in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals in 2017. He played just 23 minutes before injuring his ankle and had a +21 plus/minus in that short span. We think he has a similar impact on defence here and leads the Raptors to a Game 1 win.
Luke Krahe has singled out three best bets at Cranbourne and Coleraine for Sunday's horse racing! Find his preview and tips here! read more
Bendigo and Menangle host solid harness racing meetings on Saturday night and Trent Orwin has previewed some of the key races here! read more
We're on the Kensington track at Randwick this Saturday for our nine-race card in Sydney. Check out our preview and betting tips for every race here! read more
In our next strategy guide for the Betfair platform, we take a look at understanding how the Betfair markets work and what different types of backs and lays you can place with Betfair! read more
Unlike your ‘normal’ betting agency where it’s you versus the Bookmaker, Betfair is a peer-to-peer wagering platform. Betfair allow you to both ‘back’ and ‘lay’ bets, which gives you complete control and a totally unique betting experience. View how full guide to backing and laying here read more
There are approximately 90 Group 1 level harness races in Australia and New Zealand each year; we've highlighted some of most high profile races on the annual racing calendar here. read more
Harness racing form can be daunting to punters that are new to the sport and form analysis for the trots is certainly different to that of the gallops or greyhounds. We've listed what we think the most important factors to consider are when studying the form for a trots race. read more
With just two rounds to go in the AFL season, the battle for finals seedings is at fever pitch! Check out the odds for all nine Round 22 games courtesy of BetEasy here read more
Another round and another new leader in the race for the 2019 Brownlow Medal. This year is shaping as one of the most exciting Brownlow counts in history! Find out who got the votes in Round 21 with our vote predictions here. read more
Round 21 of the AFL offers a fantastic slate of games as we close in on the finals series! Take a look at all the odds for the weekend's action courtesy of Bet365 here read more
The 2019 Brownlow Medal is starting to look pretty interesting with the likes of Nat Fyfe, Adam Treloar and Dusty Martin closing the gap on the leaders. Find out who we gave votes to in Round 20 and click through for our rolling Brownlow leaderboard. read more