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Update: 2017 NBA Championship Futures Odds and Picks

TBD() @ TBD()

  • Where: TBD. TBD
  • When: June 1, 2017 12:00 am EST
  • Moneyline: Warriors (-150), Cavaliers (+275), Spurs (+750) & Rockets (+1600)

Perhaps parity has visited upon the wrong sports.

John Madden and others have expressed how NFL football is better when everyone is chasing one team, like San Francisco in the 80s, Dallas in the 90s or the Brady Bunch today. But the New England Patriots play only 20-odd times per year. Baseball carries a similar romance when the Yankees are an indomitable foe. But despite its 162-game slate, Major League Baseball’s postseason slots are even more scant than the NFL’s – making the Wild Card and Pennant races exciting.

The NBA, meanwhile, has boxed itself in with one dominant team in each conference, an 80+ game schedule and 16 playoff spots. On a recent radio broadcast, Chris Broussard and Colin Cowherd agreed there were only six regular-season NBA games of real interest left in 2016-17. That type of atmosphere can create a strange betting environment, especially since gauging a team’s potential from regular-season results has never seemed so intimidating after Golden State’s collapse in the 2016 NBA Finals.

LeBron James and the Cavaliers deserve immense credit for wearing down the finesse-oriented champs and bringing a long-awaited title to Cleveland. But opinions differ on the magical, yet ultimately second-place 2015-16 Warriors’ campaign and its effect on morale in Oakland.

Steph Curry and company are 46-8 so far this season, but even Michael Jordan is weighing in as a national skeptic, telling Golden State co-owner Joe Lacob that “73 don’t mean (bleep)” at a labor committee dinner in New York.

Does Las Vegas think the Warriors are hexed? Hardly. The cagers are currently a minus-payout bet to win the 2017 NBA Finals in futures lines at Bovada.

Is Golden State finally currying favor?

2017 NBA Finals PredictionsThe Warriors would not have been given futures odds at (-150) at this time last season were it not for their record-setting pace. The consensus going into 2015-16 was that Golden State’s perimeter shooting and flash could not pay off year after year compared to the physical style of teams like San Antonio and Cleveland. The naysayers were silenced as the unit won more games than any NBA team in history.

But shooting did collapse against the Cavaliers. Stephen Curry went 6-of-19 in the Game 7 home loss, and Klay Thompson – hailed as Curry’s ultimate sidekick – played 42 minutes and scored only 14 points. The Warriors were also unable to resist Lebron’s multitude of shots and relentless drives. James finished as overall leader in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks during the series, a first-of-its-kind accomplishment.

With Cleveland a prohibitive favorite to win the Eastern Conference Finals at (-300) at Bovada, Vegas appears quite confident that the Warriors will win a re-match. Perhaps that’s due to the Dubs’ newly-acquired star Kevin Durant, who scored 31 points in a rowdy Oklahoma homecoming this weekend. Curry is healthy and scoring 24.5 a night, and Durant leads the roster in points and blocks.

Or maybe the defending champs appear too vulnerable.

Cleveland – Eye of the wagerer

The Cavaliers are in first place in the East, but have had episodes. Boston is a scant 2.5 games out and charging. Injuries have piled up (Kevin Love will miss this Tuesday night in Minnesota) and James has asked to be rested on occasion. With top names sitting out or limping, the squad has played poor defense against good and bad opponents alike. Golden State racked up 126 on the short-handed Cavs in a 35-point thrashing. The Wizards scored 135 on Cleveland a week ago. On Thursday night, the Cavaliers wilted against Russell Westbrook’s one-man show in OKC – a court on which the Warriors just won.

But mid-season ups and downs, even controversies, have become a part of James’ greatness. As a player-coach-leader figure LeBron is reminiscent of diabolical head coaches like Pat Riley, Bill Parcells or Mike Keenan.

A #1 playoff seed is a nice bonus, but individual talent will carry Cleveland to a top seed anyway. Therefore, James capitalizes on the chance to manufacture adversity in the regular season, breeding toughness and unity in the ranks. The method also helps fine-tune younger superstars like Kyrie Irving, who scored 28 in the OKC loss.

A futures wager on the 2017 NBA Finals is a matter of theory and practice. On one hand the Cavaliers carry terrific odds, and the mystique of defending a championship. The bumps, bruises and bad defense of winter could be swept away in another flood of great LeBron performances down the stretch. On the other, Warrior head coach Steve Kerr has a brand new toy to play with in the physical, relentless Durant.

The Warriors are not a value bet, because their payoff-odds to win the NBA Finals are about the same as those of the Yankees over the Mets on a Tuesday afternoon. The Cavs, meanwhile, could be a promising wager to repeat at (+250), but let’s see if they can get healthy and disciplined first – whatever the standings say.

Spoilers – San Antonio and Boston

Most of the potential long-shot bets come with mortal issues. For instance, the Houston Rockets have the third-best record in the league and eye-popping championship odds at (+1600). But they struggle in perimeter defense and against dunk and lay-up attempts, a precursor of ruin against James and the Cavaliers.

However, two value plays remain. First, look at Boston’s current odds to win the Eastern Conference at (+700). A victorious Tom Brady texted the Celtics’ superb point guard Isaiah Thomas last week, saying “it’s your turn now.” Well, maybe not to beat Stephen Curry in the Finals, but if Cleveland’s mid-season inconsistency turns out not to be a mirage? A wager on the Green to pull off an Eastern Conference Finals upset could pay off handsomely.

Lastly, the San Antonio Spurs are a value futures pick in the West. At 41-12, Tony Parker and a young/old roster of Gregg Popovich believers are ranked second in scoring defense, first in three-point shooting and second in overall shooting. With (+425) odds to win the Western Conference at Bovada, the Spurs are a promising pick as the only NBA team with the potential to out-shoot and out-defend Golden State on the perimeter over 7 games.

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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