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2016-17 NBA Playoffs Odds and Best Value Futures Bets

Various Teams() @ Various Teams()

  • Where: Various. All over
  • When: April 15, 2017 3:00 pm EST
  • Moneyline: Golden State Warriors (-180), Cleveland Cavaliers (+350), San Antonio Spurs (+700), Boston Celtics (+1600), Houston Rockets (+1600), Los Angeles Clippers (+2800), Toronto Raptors (+4000), Washington Wizards (+4000)

After almost three seasons of the Golden State Warriors’ assault on unwritten rules of NBA success, book-makers are left with a choice. Factor in periodic rain-clouds such as Golden State’s empty-tank performance in Game 7 of the Finals last year, or buy in completely?

With the current set of NBA Championship futures odds, we have our answer – the bookies have put their money down on the Warriors. The money line on 2016’s runners-up winning it all is set at (-180), an incredible number against a field of 16. Vegas clearly believes that Kevin Durant will solve any problems the team experienced in the home stretch last time around.

Meanwhile in the Eastern Conference, the Cleveland Cavaliers have laid low, protecting their veterans from injury and fatigue as the playoffs approach. But could the tactic backfire with the loss of home-court advantage?

Let’s look at a few popular bets to win the Larry O’ Brien Trophy, alongside a couple of dark-horses and of course MSB’s value-bet recommendation.

Western Conference – Still a matter of perspective

Golden State’s front office reacted in the most logical way to last year’s Finals collapse, in which the team couldn’t drive the lane and was left to only icy-cold jump-shooting in Games 6 and 7.

The franchise acquired Kevin Durant, a total package of leadership, power, finesse and stamina. The rejuvenated squad posted an impressive 67-15 regular-season mark, while Durant suffered a scary late-winter injury but should be healthy for a #1 seeded berth in the NBA playoffs.

Given the Warriors’ minus-ML, the questions bettors must ask are both philosophical and practical. A team bringing in a superstar to “take care” of a weakness never has a 100% chance of success. In this case, Golden State showed an inability to score two-point buckets in the 4th quarter when Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson could only get open from long range. Problem? Call K-Dog.

So far, Durant has been up to the task. The former league MVP has made over 53% of his field goal attempts in 2016-17, an awesome figure that could help carry the team to a championship if the 28 year-old keeps finding the hoop.

Cavaliers – Will the rope a’ dope pay off?

If Golden State is behaving like a soccer franchise, keeping its stars warm before the big dance, the Cavaliers are acting like a veteran NHL team – no care in the world except the playoffs. The Cavs caused a small stink by resting LeBron James and other leaders over the past week.

If the move was odious, it was also a chesty message to the top-seeded Boston Celtics. In Cleveland’s most recent trip to the Garden, the Cavaliers won by 23 points, James scoring 36 and leading the team in assists. Obviously, James isn’t concerned about losing a Game 7 in Massachusetts.

The Cavs open against Indiana, a five-figure underdog. Things could go smooth for a while, but the squad must get its defense in order before that potential Eastern Conference Finals series with the Celtics.

Spoilers in the truest sense

Because there are so few teams in the NBA who can conceivably beat Golden State in a seven-game series, a lot of bets on the board are academic. But just because you’re not staking cash on a team doesn’t mean you may ignore them. Teams too flimsy to go all the way can still spoil a dream season…or a bet.

If your pick could be facing the Boston Celtics, be afraid. Boston is not a fine defending team (Marcus Smart leads the Green with 1.6 steals per contest) but Isaiah Thomas is a wonder, and from mid-December to mid-February the youthful Celtics were held to under 100 points only once. Boston would likely collapse in a Finals match-up against Golden State or San Antonio, but their firepower could lead to headaches for Cleveland in the third round.

The Rockets look promising at 16-to-1 odds. James Hardin is having the best, most consistent campaign of his career. But Houston ranks badly in points-allowed, struggles to defend dunk and layup attempts, and can wilt against big, imposing opponents. Back-to-back mid-season losses to Utah and San Antonio revealed a lack of rebounding depth, and mediocre team shooting.

There are worse long-shot bets than the Oklahoma City Thunder. OKC at (+8000) and boasting the hottest individual player in the league in Russell Westbrook demands that notice be taken. As underrated as young talents such as Steven Adams may be – the burly 7’0″ center is averaging around eight rebounds per game – ultimately a 2017 Finals run would come down to Westbrook doing something all-time historic throughout the playoffs.

It’s happened before. Michael Jordan’s final championship was won with role players at his side, each famous by association. But Westbrook is not regarded as a Michael Jordan-type figure. Yet.

Let your Spurs jangle

The San Antonio Spurs are the real threat. Sitting pretty at 7-to-1 odds, the veteran cagers may have a favorable draw as #2 seed in the West. The Warriors must play the exciting L.A. Clippers or Utah Jazz in the second round, while the Spurs will face Memphis and then potentially Houston, a team they can out-muscle and out-score.

The Spurs are just the type of unorthodox, well-coached unit that could knock off the Warriors. Let’s face it – if Curry, Thompson and Durant are draining shots, any series is over. San Antonio is tactical and physical enough to rattle elite shooting guards, goad forwards into foul trouble and grind out points on the other end.

The Spurs’ late-season 103-74 win over Cleveland was a model of championship form. Yes, the excellent Kawhi Leonard scored 25 points, and Pau Gasol added 14 off the bench. But look at the defense – the Cavs were held to a miserable 37.4% from the field, and a battered LeBron limped off in the second half.

Wager the future, not the present

“Futures” odds deal in the present. On paper, Golden State can whip anybody. But close your eyes and imagine the Spurs riding into Oakland having swept Houston or OKC, while the Warriors recoup from a long state-rivalry clash against the Clippers. Are you ready to take (-180) over (+700)?

Bet on the future. The San Antonio Spurs are your tough-as-nails value pick to win the NBA title.

Meanwhile for a fun long-shot wager, empty the couch cushions and place a buck or two on Russell Westbrook and his much-maligned supporting cast in OKC.

Kurt BoyerThis article was written by Kurt Boyer

A freelance sportswriter from Missouri, Kurt has covered court, gridiron, rink and ring for 10+ years. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.

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