Prior to the start of Monday’s Western Conference Finals the Westgate SuperBook adjusted odds to win the NBA Finals had Golden State at 2-to-3, Cleveland at 7-to-4, Oklahoma City 7-to-1 and Toronto at 40-to-1.
As great as the Warriors have been the past two seasons, for some reason my mind is telling me they might be in trouble against the Thunder.
Sure the Thunder lost all three games to the Warriors this season, but I saw something different with the Thunder when they beat the Spurs 4-2 in the last series. Their two superstars Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant played like stars and didn’t disappoint. I have been critical of each of them the past couple years with “selfish” and “gutless” being some of my choice words, but their production and confidence in the playoffs has been incredible.
All Durant has done is lead everyone in the postseason with 27.4 point a game while Westbrook has dished out the most with 10.8 a game. But perhaps the biggest reason for believing the Thunder might be a good wager to win the series at +325 – higher after a Game 1 loss – is the supporting cast.
The energy brought in by Enes Kanter off the bench and starter Steven Adams has given this team a boost and helped the Thunder lead all playoff teams with a +9.7 rebounding edge. The next closest team was Miami at +5.3. Adams also leads all players with shooting efficiency at 66.7%. Kanter is 58%.
Matching up with a tired Spurs squad that just ran out of gas and trying to do it against the Warriors are two completely different things. Adams and Kanter, in theory, shouldn’t be as effective in what is expected to be a faster pace. But this where Durant and Westbrook come into play. They have to be the stars they’re supposed to be and match Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson’s level. Tall task, but I think they can.
Dion Waiters has to step up and play some defense. They’ll also need Serge Ibaka’s athleticism to make a presence throughout.
I’ve gone around in circles in my mind with Oklahoma City and why they can’t win, but winning actually makes more sense and seems possible. I’m believing. I look for them to play well in Game 1 Monday, but lose. At that point, I’ll bet OKC at around +550. Thunder in 6.
Betting MLB Awards
This is the first year bettors have ever been able to wager on MLB awards like the Cy Young and MVP in Las Vegas. The Nevada Gaming Control Board didn’t want anything wagered on where voters might have an edge on wagering just to ensure the integrity of the state was never compromised.
The Westgate has Jake Arrieta and Clayton Kershaw as 2-to-1 favorites to win the NL Cy Young and Chris Sale is a massive 5-to-7 favorite in the AL. NL MVP odds have Bryce Harper and Nolan Arenado as 11-to-4 co-favorites and Manny Machado is 2-to-1 on the AL side.
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. Twitter: @MicahRoberts7 Email: [email protected].