At the start of the week the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers have not yet disposed of its opponents in the conference finals, but with 3-0 leads by each, we can almost guarantee the two will be meet June 4 for Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
And what a Finals it is with the best player on the planet facing this year’s MVP. It’s got all the star appeal one could ask for, which not only makes for television ratings, but also for betting handle.
“These are two of the most popular betting teams all season because of their style of play,” said Westgate SuperBook assistant manager Jeff Sherman.
What’s the price going to be? SuperBook manager Ed Salmons texted on Sunday that Golden State should be about -360. On Monday, Sherman helped explain the process of how they’ll be setting their number.
“Our question on the price deals with Kyrie Irving and whether he plays or not. He hasn’t played the last two and there really is no reason to play him in Game 4, so he’ll have almost two weeks off before Game 1, which is a long time to get healthy. If he doesn’t play, the Warriors might be -400, but if he’s healthy, maybe it’s only -250. I don’t give the Cavs much of a chance at all if Kyrie doesn’t play.”
The Warriors will have home court advantage and are also considered to be about 2.5-points better on a neutral court – higher with no Irving who is worth 2.5. Give the Warriors 3.5-points for home court and you’re looking at a base of -6 vs. Cleveland in the first two games with Irving playing. In the last series against Houston, the Warriors were much larger favorites than the good power numbers said it should be. The Rockets covered two of the first three games.
Another thing the SuperBook might factor in when setting their price is what they stand to win in NBA Future wagers since last year’s Final ended. It’s a sizable pool of action and a big early chunk of it came last summer when LeBron James was deciding where he would play for the 2014-15 season.
The Cavs at the time were 60/1 as many thought he’d stay put in Miami. But to the delight of Ohio, he chose to go home to northern Ohio. Quite a few of those bettors took a chance that LeBron would choose Cleveland and wagered on it. The SuperBook adjusted downward as rumors were swirling weeks up to the decision.
However, what was an early loser on the Cavs has turned a small winner over time. The Warriors are another story as Sherman said they have been the most consistent future wager taken during the season, which now makes them a small loser for the SuperBook.
I know the Warriors are the better team, but I’ll be rooting for Cleveland to win just because I’ve spent a lot time at my brother’s house in Ohio the past 20 years and I feel for the area’s pain of not seeing a pro champion of any kind since the Browns won the 1964 NFL Championship.
Ohio State won in college football, which whet the appetite for championship starved fans, but Cleveland needs something of their own. I’ll have a small wager on the Cavs to win it all, not only for sentimental reasons, but also because I still find it hard to believe a jump-shooting team can win a title, even if Golden State does have the best 3-point duo of all time.
I think the NBA Finals has a place for toughness to make an impact and I believe with LeBron’s leadership, they are the tougher team. The two split during the regular season, but the one game LeBron played in he scored 42-points in a 110-99 home win on Feb. 26. Steph Curry is the MVP and LeBron gets motivated even more by competition like this and will try to show the world who the best player on the planet is.
If I would have bet only six select pitchers from the beginning of the season up to now, I’d be 49-5 with 46.2 units of profit so far.
It’s amazing to see the Rangers go 8-1 behind Nick Martinez to give bettors a MLB-leading +9.8 units of return. Then there’s St. Louis’ Michael Wacha (+9.4 units) who has yet to lose this season. His personal record is 7-0, his team’s mark behind him is 9-0.
In the case of Atlanta’s Shelby Miller (+8.2), he’s also got the side-to-total angle working for him as eight of his nine starts have all stayed UNDER the total. Felix Hernandez (+6.3), Dallas Keuchel (+6.3) and David Price (+6.2) are also getting bettors paid on a consistent basis.
You may have missed the big party train with such early returns, but there’s nothing wrong with riding these guys out through the All-Star break. Throw Cleveland’s Danny Salazar (+5.0) into the mix as well as the Indians have won six of his seven starts.
Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, one of The Linemakers on SportingNews.com , and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Follow Micah on Twitter @MicahRoberts7 Contact Micah at [email protected].