The NBA Finals are here. Hell. Yes.
Being as there is no shortage of coverage on this series, we have decided to take a different route in breaking down the Finals. Gambling. Thanks to TopBet.eu we have a few prop bets and a few opinions.
A quick refresher on how gambling odds—specifically moneylines—work. A perfectly even bet would be +100 signifying that you would win $1 for every $1 you bet. A +200 bet means you win $2 for every $1 you bet. Etc. A “-” moneyline bet indicates a more likely than not occurrence. A -200 bet requires the bettor to risk $2 to win $1.
A +200 (or 2-to-1) bet indicates a 33.3 percent of occurrence whereas a -200 (or 1-to-2) bet indicates a 66.7 percent chance of occurrence. Note: There is always a gap between the chances of occurrence, this is where “the house” makes money.
Who will win the series?
Cleveland: (+200, 33.3%)
Golden State: (-260, 72.2%)
Eric in Madison: Oof. -260 is brutal. I had every intention of betting on the Warriors, but this line...screw it. I’ll take the Cavs +200. I think it’s unlikely they win, but not that unlikely. I don’t like the Cavs +200 much, but I like Warriors -260 even less. Anything can happen, as we saw last year around this time. Also, LeBron.
Dane Moore: So, this is the re-re-match. What were the odds in the match and rematch? Thanks for asking.
When looking back at the two prior matchups, the obvious difference is the presence of Kevin Durant. That, of course, is worth a swing in favor of Golden State but I think the other Kevin should be factored in as well.
In 2015, Kevin Love missed the entire series after Kelly Olynyk went full psycho and ripped off Love’s shoulder. In that Finals, Tristan Thompson was moved into the starting lineup in place of Love, which was not a huge loss. But the minutes at the backup big position (initially Thompson’s) became a massive issue. James Jones played as the nominal stretch-4 and averaged 18.8 minutes per game. Even though Love was not a dominant player that season, the drop off from him to Jones was demonstrable.
In 2016, Love played but was not healthy after suffering a concussion in Game 2. He missed Game 3 completely. We, of course, remember the final possession where Love moved his feet against Steph Curry but we forget how mediocre he was in the rest of the series. In the six games Love played in he averaged 8.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in 26.3 minutes per game. Statistically, those are JaMychal Green or Al-Faroq Aminu numbers. While the Warriors are a bad matchup for Love—as they are for most people—he’s not 8 and 6 bad.
In the 2017 Conference Finals, Love was healthy and on fire. He was 23 of 43 from three and averaged 22.6 points, 12.4 rebounds, and 2.6 assists in 33.2 minutes per game. Because of who the Warriors are, Love will not put up those type of numbers. However, if he can be closer to that than Aminu-level the Cavs deserve some acknowledgment for adding another star. Sure, that star is not Kevin Durant, but are we sure the gap between Kevin Durant and Harrison Barnes is irrefutably bigger than the jump to healthy Kevin Love from James Jones?
For the sake of this bet, it doesn’t have to be. The Warriors deserve to be the favorites but to be noticeably larger favorite than the first two matchups seems a bit much. For me, that is because I think Kevin Love has an impact this year that was previously void.
Gimme ‘Bron and 2-to-1 odds.
Kyle Theige: Timely reminder that the Golden State Warriors won the 2015 NBA Finals, followed that up the next season by winning 73 games, and then responded this summer to blowing a 3-1 lead in the 2016 NBA Finals by replacing Harrison Barnes with Kevin Durant. That would be like if the Cavs replaced Tristan Thompson with Anthony Davis. This Warriors team is juiced with talent, healthy, and has a sour taste in their mouth from the embarrassment of last summer. Toss in home court advantage and the “Mike Brown Revenge” subplot, and I’d argue -260 is a borderline steal.
Josh Clement: Although the oddsmakers certainly have Golden State as the heavy favorite, I feel like when LeBron James is involved, the odds are skewed. Nate Silver’s 538 ratings have consistently been unable to account for the Cavaliers deciding they will be good, flipping the switch in the playoffs. Now, of course, the Warriors could be the best playoff team of all time, which is a ridiculous thing to try to fully realize. What happens when you pit the theoretical best team of all time against the theoretical best (or second best) player of all time. I’ll take the Cavs.
Who will win Most Valuable Player?
LeBron James: (+180)
Kevin Durant: (+190)
Stephen Curry: (+220)
Draymond Green: (+750)
Kyrie Irving: (+1400)
Klay Thompson: (+2500)
Kevin Love: (+2500)
Andre Iguodala: (+7500)
Eric: Irving at +1400 is pretty tasty, but I’ll go with Curry +220. Easy enough to imagine him getting red hot for the series and averaging 35 points a night in a Warriors win. Same thing with Durant, but I’ll take the better odds on Curry.
Dane: Okay, first the LeBron +180 is stupid. Anyone who makes that bet rather than just betting on the Cavs to win the series is being silly. If James couldn’t win the Finals MVP in a series his team lost in 2015, it’s not happening this year. In 2015, James dragged his fellow starters—Matthew Dellavedova, Iman Shumpert, Tristan Thompson, and Timofey Mozgov—to six games against the freaking Warriors. In that series, he shot 32.7 shots per game (not a typo) and averaged 36-13-9. If the Cavs don’t win the series James can not win MVP. So cross that off.
2-to-1 on Durant or Curry is not enough for me considering they kind of stop the other from completely shining. Maybe that’s dumb, I’m not sure.
Draymond would need to completely stop James in every game to win MVP. I’m not betting on that +750.
Give me the long shot, Kyrie +1400. 6.7 percent chance, why not? If the Cavs win this series 33 times out of 100, Kyrie gets at least 10 of those MVPs, right? While I think it is more likely Irving shoots the Cavs out of the series than him winning MVP, I believe this is the juiciest bet.
Josh: This one is pretty interesting, as the Kyrie odds look great, but if the Cavs win it’s hard to imagine anyone but LeBron winning the MVP. Guess that is why the odds look so good. I will take Draymond at +750, as he has shown he can be the key player for the Warriors, for example, Game 7 last year where he demolished the Cavs (even though the Cavs ended up winning). He probably has the most enticing odds for me.
Kyle: Public Service Announcement – there is no conceivable way that the Cavs win the NBA Finals and LeBron ISN’T crowned the Finals MVP. None. While I agree with EiM that Kyrie at +1400 is tasty, that seems like a suckers bet. Considering the Cavs are +200 to win the Finals, LeBron at +180 makes no sense. Remember – this is an award voted on by the media, and with some of them still salty about Durant’s departure from OKC, I’ll say Curry at +220 is the best option here.
What Will Be The Exact Result Of The Series?
Golden State in 4: (+550)
Golden State in 5: (+250)
Golden State in 6: (+375)
Golden State in 7: (+290)
Cleveland in 4: (+3000)
Cleveland in 5: (+1400)
Cleveland in 6: (+500)
Cleveland in 7: (+650)
Eric: Golden State in 6 gives you better odds than 5 or 7 because game six is in Cleveland. I’ll take that bet. Interesting that Warriors in 5 has the shortest odds; Vegas doesn’t like the Cavs much in this series. Anyway, I’ll go with Warriors in six, hoping to cash in at +375.
Dane: Vegas says;
GS in 4 = 15.4 percent
GS in 5 = 28.5 percent
GS in 6 = 21.1 percent
GS in 7 = 25.6 percent
While I agree that, in a vacuum, GS in 5 is the most likely outcome I do not agree the Warriors winning in exactly five has similar value to taking the Cavs straight up, which is 33.3 percent. I’m skipping all the GS outcomes.
CLE in 4 = 3.2 percent
CLE in 5 = 6.7 percent
CLE in 6 = 16.7 percent
CLE in 7 = 13.3 percent
I would say, Cleveland in 6 or 7 sticks out as value. I am going to go with CLE in 7 because I don’t think home court advantage is a massive factor for the Cavs. My anecdotal evidence for this came in Game 2 of the ECF when Cleveland took a 41-point halftime lead in Boston. If I like the Cavs to win the series at +200 (which I do) give me the larger return of CLE in 7 because I’m not weighing them down for not having home court advantage.
Lock it in, CLE in 7 (+650).
Josh: If I am taking the odds for Cleveland to win it all, then I am going to take the Cleveland in 7 bet. Figure it will go down to the wire just like last year.
Kyle: My official prediction is Warriors in 5, but +250 is absurdly low for projecting the exact number of games for the Finals. As EiM said, if you think Golden State wins (as I do), Golden State in 6 (+375) is your best option. For gambling purposes though, give me Cleveland in 6 (+500) and have it play out like this: the Cavs steal Game 1, get blown out in Game 2, “Defend the Land” in Game 3 and 4, get blown out in Game 5 back in the bay, and then extend their reign as defending champs on their home court in Game 6.
Will any player record a triple-double in a game during the 2017 NBA finals?
Eric: I think someone will, but -330 is rough. I'll bet the no.
Dane: Next question. Yes, -330. If this season taught me anything it is that players care about the arbitrary demarcation of triple-doubles.
I promise you, Draymond is already honing in on this. Oh yeah, ‘Bron also has some incentive too. Currently, Magic Johnson holds the record for NBA Finals triple-doubles with eight, James has seven. I’m betting he gets two on his own.
Josh: Crazy the odds are that high for a triple-double. I will still take the Yes though as LeBron is just one triple-double away from tying Magic Johnson for the most triple-doubles in NBA playoff history. I feel like LeBron knows that.
Kyle: As many people remember, LeBron hung a historic 27/11/11 line in the deciding game of last year’s NBA Finals, but you may forget that LeBron was 1 assist and/or 1 rebound away from FOUR more triple doubles during those same Finals. Mix in a rested (and angry) Draymond Green and the playmaking ability of Kevin Durant, and this steep line all the sudden shows its true colors: green. Give me Yes (-330), give me free money, and most importantly give me 6-7 games of great, memorable basketball to make up for what was a rather disappointing and lackluster 2016-2017 season.