The result of the 2017 NBA Finals will be very good or very bad for Las Vegas oddsmakers. Sportsbooks will be pulling hard for the Warriors over the Cavaliers.
The odds say the Warriors have a strong chance to win this year’s NBA championship — not a huge surprise for a team that won 73 regular-season games last season and added former league MVP Kevin Durant to its roster in July. Then again, the defending-champion Cavs still employ that dude named LeBron James.
On Thursday, hours before Game 1 of the NBA Finals, Pregame.com released its odds for the series, Finals MVP, the impact of Golden State coach Steve Kerr’s absence and more.
NBA Finals: Vegas odds for series
Golden State Warriors: -260
Cleveland Cavaliers: +230
The Warriors, who are a perfect 12-0 in the 2017 NBA playoffs as they enter the finals, are given a 70 percent chance to win the series over the Cavaliers, who enter Game 1 with an 11-1 2017 playoff record.
A $100 bet on the Warriors and a Golden State series victory would win $38. A $100 bet on the Cavaliers and a Cleveland series victory would win $230. That means a winning bet on the Cavs pays about six times the amount of a winning bet on the Warriors.
Pregame.com also notes the wise guys in Vegas are heavy on the Warriors, while the betting public is heavy on the Cavs — natural given the payout gap combined with a perception of relative equality between the two teams.
Those who are gutsy enough to bet on a Cleveland sweep will earn a massive payout if the Cavs pull it off. A Cleveland sweep pays 50/1, while a Golden State sweep pays 8/1.
The 2016 NBA Finals went the full seven games. This year’s edition of Cavs vs. Warriors, their third consecutive finals meeting, is not expected to last as long. Pregame.com gives the series a 30 percent chance to go seven games. The 2016 NBA Finals, for what it’s worth, lasted six games.
NBA Finals: Steve Kerr’s status
Complications from a recent back surgery have kept Golden State coach Steve Kerr away from the team’s bench since its first-round playoff series against Portland. He reportedly could return during the finals. Mike Brown has been filling in as the acting head coach.
Many assume Kerr’s absence will mean more for the Warriors against the Cavaliers, a much tougher team than those Golden State has eliminated in the playoffs, in a series that certainly will provide adversity — thus giving Cleveland an advantage.
According to Pregame.com, Kerr’s absence is worth less than half a point per game.
NBA Finals: MVP odds
Kevin Durant, Warriors: +200
Stephen Curry, Warriors: +220
LeBron James, Cavaliers: +250
Draymond Green, Warriors: +800
Kyrie Irving, Cavaliers: +1500
Kevin Love, Cavaliers: +2000
Klay Thompson, Warriors: +2200
With the Warriors being heavy favorites to win the 2017 NBA Finals, it’s no surprise that three of the top four series MVP candidates play for Golden State. Andre Iguodala took the award after the Warriors won the finals in 2015, and LeBron James earned it when the Cavs got their revenge last year.
Iguodala became an outlier when he won the award. He’s the only player ever to take home Finals MVP without starting every game in the series. The odds of the MVP award going to a player on the losing team are slim — only Jerry West (1969) has pulled that off.