It’s been a wild ride up until this point in the NBA Playoffs where just two teams remain in hope of lifting the The Larry O'Brien NBA Championship Trophy. Will it be the Golden State Warriors who become champions for the third year in a row? Or will it be the Toronto Raptors who defy the odds to win it all in their first ever trip to the NBA Finals? We preview the series below and provide some of our favourite bets from popular betting agencies.
The Raptors will have home court advantage in their first ever appearance in the NBA Finals thanks to finishing with one more win than the Warriors in the regular season. The Raptors have certainly done it the hard way these playoffs, defeating the 76ers with a buzzer beater in Game 7 in the semi-finals, before coming back from a 2-0 series deficit to win in six games against the Bucks in the Conference Finals.
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for the Warriors either. They were surprisingly pushed to six games in the first round by the Clippers, before taking care of the Rockets in six games in the semi-finals, and most recently sweeping the Blazers in the Conference Finals. Injuries have been of major concern for the Warriors these playoffs, with return timetables for DeMarcus Cousins and Kevin Durant still unknown.
The Raptors have had to work a lot harder to get to this point of the playoffs than their opponents and also lack NBA Finals experience. Regardless of whether or not Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins are 100% fit, we see the Warriors being too good in a seven-game series. The $1.35 quote for a Warriors Championship doesn’t give us much meat on the bone, so if you’re looking for a bit more value, then we like them to win in six games at around $3.50 at most agencies.
The Finals MVP is always a fun one to have some capital on. This year presents an interesting market with the likely absence of 2x Finals MVP Kevin Durant in Game 1 and potentially Game 2. The clear front-runner here is 2x MVP Steph Curry at a $1.70 quote. It’s actually quite remarkable that he’s yet to win a Finals MVP considering he’s been a key cog in all three of their championships. In fact, a case could be made that he’s been the runner-up for Finals MVP on all three occasions. On the other hand, if you’re keen on a Raptors championship, then pretty much your only option is Kawhi Leonard at around $3.50, which probably isn’t worth the play considering you can get on the Raptors to win the chip at $3.45 anyway, and these two things go hand-in-hand. All things considered, we believe Curry to win Finals MVP is a fairly nice play at $1.70 and would back him into around $1.55ish.
Another market that really stood out for us is the ‘Series Most Points’ at BetEasy. The two clear favourites for this market are Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard ($2.40) and Warriors guard Steph Curry ($1.60). Honestly, we were really surprised to see Curry favoured over Leonard here, considering Curry’s sub-par scoring outputs in his four Finals Series to date, and the way that Leonard has been scoring at will in this year’s playoffs. Yes, Curry went on a tear in the Conference Finals against the Blazers averaging 36.5ppg, but you won’t see anything near that when Durant comes back in Game 2 or 3 - Curry averaged less than 23ppg in the playoffs before Durant got injured. Instead, we like the value of Kawhi Leonard, who’s averaged 31.2 points on 51% shooting in these playoffs. Expect his minutes to be up around 40 like they were in the Conference Finals, and expect him to average over 30ppg, even if the Warriors close it out in six games or less.
The final market we’ll have something on is the ‘Series Most Assists’ at BetEasy. You’ve got three main players here in the form of Draymond Green ($1.30), Steph Curry ($4), and Kyle Lowry ($4). Green’s the form guy of the three in terms of assists – averaging 8.2 in the playoffs, up from 6.9 in the regular season. But we like Kyle Lowry here at really nice odds. He averaged a career high 8.6 assists in the regular season, which was the second-best mark in the entire NBA. He hasn’t quite reached those heights in the playoffs with just 6.4 per game thus far, but he did have 12 assists in both games against the Warriors this season, whereas Green managed just seven in his one appearance against the Raptors.
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