Golden State opened as a -320 to win the 2019 NBA championship at Caesars Sportsbook. Toronto, which is making its first NBA Finals appearance but has home court advantage in the series, opened as a +260 underdog. In the last eight installments of the NBA Finals, only last season’s Cleveland Cavaliers were bigger underdogs than the betting odds at which Toronto opened.
The Last Vegas SuperBook also had the Warriors open as a -275 favorite to retain their titles and the priced was upped to -310 after a few minutes. According to a report from ESPN, SuperBook director John Murray said they immediately took a -275 bet on the Dubs before they raised the price to -310. Murray justified the Dubs’ pricing by pointing out that the Warriors are 34-4 SU without KD but with Steph Curry playing including 31 wins in their last 32 such games. The Warriors are 5-0 SU in the 2019 playoffs without Durant but with Curry. The possibility that Durant ( and/or DeMarcus Cousins) could return sometime during the series also gives the Dubs the right to be solid favorites to win the series.
As of May 30, 2019, at BetOnline.ag, the Warriors are down to -280 to win the series. On the other hand, the Raptors are up to +235. The numbers have changed since the lines opened but not by much and that speaks of how the bookmakers think highly of Golden State’s championship experience.
When we talk about championship experience, no current team comes close to the Golden State Warriors. Ever since their breakout year in 2015 where they won their first ever NBA title, the Dubs have reigned supreme in the West, representing the conference for the fifth consecutive season. Golden State has also won three out of the last four NBA championship series, including the last two.
The Warriors were a very young team when they won the title in 2015. That’s why they still have their core until now. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, and Shaun Livingston have been there since the first title. Kevin Durant has been there for the last two title runs. Kevon Looney, Quinn Cook, Jordan Bell, and even the returning Andrew Bogut have at least won one championship ring. Now that’s plenty of championship experience on that squad.
On the other hand, Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Serge Ibaka are the only players from Toronto that have played in the NBA Finals. Ibaka played with Kevin Durant when they lost to the Miami Heat in the 2012 NBA Finals. Leonard and Green were teammates in San Antonio when the Spurs won the 2014 NBA title. Leonard was Finals MVP during that year. Toronto has veteran players like Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol and Jeremy Lin who have plenty of NBA experience but they never played in the Finals before.
Best Offensive Team Ever
When Kevin Durant transferred to Golden State, the Warriors became the best offensive team we’ve ever seen in the history of the game. Imagine the Splash Brothers teaming up with one of the best scorers the game has ever seen, and you have the best 1-2-3 option in the league. Curry and Thompson form one of the deadliest shooting backcourt duos in the history of the league. They’ve broken one three-point record after another. Add Kevin Durant, a former MVP, and arguably the most gifted scorer in the game today. Then you also have Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston who can put up the numbers when needed. This even excluded DeMarcus Cousins, a former All-Star and 20-point scorer who joined the Warriors this year but is on the injured list like Durant.
Golden State’s offense is one of the most explosive we’ve ever seen in the history of the game. When Golden State won in 2015, teams found it hard to contain Curry and Thompson at the same time. When Durant joined the team two years later, he made the Warriors virtually impossible to stop on offense. But the addition of Durant created the offensive scheme at Golden State. Prior to his arrival in the Bay Area, the Warriors relied heavily on ball movement and passing in order to free up Curry, Thompson and their other shooters. When Durant came, the bread and butter play became Durant bringing the ball up and creating his own shot. And why not? Durant is virtually unstoppable one on one.
Curry and Thompson took the backseat with KD on the team. They didn’t care a lot about their status for as long as the Warriors won. Golden State won back to back titles with Durant leading the offense. KD won the Finals MVP the last two years while the Splash Brothers were happy to get rings #2 and #3. But Durant suffered an injury during their series against the Houston Rockets. Many thought the Warriors would have a hard time coping with the loss of their leading scorer. Many forgot they were champions before KD was here. Curry stepped up in Durant’s absence and returned to his role as the Warriors’ chief gunner. Thompson began to get more shots and score more points. Without a ball dominant player like KD orchestrating their offense, the Warriors reverted to their 2015 version and began playing team ball again. The ball movement, screens and passing returned and the results were the same.
Offense and Championship experience are Golden State’s biggest advantages in this series. The Raptors are one of the league’s best defensive teams and Leonard is a former Defensive Player of the Year winner so maybe that is going to level the playing field. However, when it comes to championship experience, the Warriors are second to none. Everyone’s talking about how Toronto dismantled Philadelphia and Milwaukee in the previous rounds of the postseason. But remember those teams didn’t have the playoff experience that Leonard, Lowry, Ibaka, Gasol, and Green have. In the finals, it’s going to be another story as Golden State not only has playoff experience but championship experience as well.