The Cleveland Cavaliers just got done wrapping up an improbable three-game run on Sunday night that earned them their first ever NBA title. The Golden State Warriors appeared to have the 2016 NBA Finals in the bag with a 3-1 series lead, but they choked down the stretch, allowing the Cavs to make history as the first team to come back from such a deficit in the Finals.

LeBron James was playing in his sixth straight (seventh overall) Finals series and pushed Cleveland to it’s first ever NBA championship and the city’s first sports title of any kind in 52 years. James added to his own growing legacy during the process, nabbing his third ever ring and taking first place in the Finals in all of the major statistical categories.

Needless to say, Cleveland should be riding high with confidence and should be looked at as a major threat to win again during the 2016-17 NBA season. The Cavs have now made it to back to back Finals and with a very weak Eastern Conference, there isn’t much logic supporting someone else making it ahead of them. In fact, the only thing that could stop the Cavs from at least reaching next year’s title series would be severe injury or LeBron James opting out and going to play elsewhere.

2017 NBA Finals Odds – Favorites

With that not being overly likely, it’s fitting to have the Cavs as a top threat. Let’s see where they lineup with the early 2017 NBA Finals odds out, per Bovada:

  • Warriors +200
  • Cavaliers +225
  • Spurs +750
  • Thunder +850

It’s not easy to repeat as champions, and there is a strong argument for Golden State coming back for blood next year. It was also arguable that the Cavs willed their way to their first ever title, even though they should have lost the series.

Golden State was probably the better overall team, but did not come to play down the stretch. Naturally, Vegas likes the Dubs slightly more, but this is pretty much an even bet. Neither the Cavs or Warriors offer much of a payout, but given how weak the Eastern Conference is and how good the Dubs are, this is very likely the matchup we’re looking at for the third year in a row.

That being said, San Antonio can probably talk Tim Duncan and their other aging veterans into one last title run, while Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge might be able to fuel a run on their own, regardless. OKC also got to the Western Conference Finals and pushed the Dubs to the limit, getting within one win over the NBA Finals. Provided Kevin Durant doesn’t jump ship this summer, the Thunder could close the gap next year.

Of this four-pack, the Thunder offer the funnest bet and are probably the best place to put your money if you’re looking for a good combination of odds and upside.

2017 NBA Finals Sleepers

  • Clippers +2000
  • Celtics +2500
  • Raptors +2500
  • Heat +3300
  • Rockets +5000

Defining a sleeper can be difficult, but odds aside, we’re looking at five teams here that have reasonable logic supporting a potential title run. Los Angeles wasn’t healthy last year and still won over 50 games and almost escaped round one. They’ll be back and probably will be as good as ever. If they can add the right depth pieces, they might be a legit threat.

Boston would be a good bet if they had better odds to play with, but as they stand, they’re still just a deep team that is well-coached. They lack an impact player that can put them over the top, and even if they get one, it’s tough to imagine it will be enough to get past the Cavs.

The story is fairly similar for Toronto, who were the only Eastern Conference team to beat the Cavs at all in these playoffs and did manage to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. The problem with the Raptors is they really struggled to even get that far and when it mattered most, they shrunk against a better Cleveland squad. They probably need one more impact player to take the next step, while power forward is a real problem for them. They got close to the Finals, though, so they could be sporting odds worth rolling with.

Miami might be the better bet, though, especially if Chris Bosh returns and the Heat can continue improving. They still have good guard play and solid depth, and if center Hassan Whiteside doesn’t flee this summer, they’ll have the size and defense to battle with anyone in their conference. They’re still not a lock to be better than the Cavs, but keeping continuity could push them to the #2 seed if all goes well.

One other interesting sleeper could be the Rockets, who could be even more dangerous offensively with Mike D’Antoni running the show. James Harden is still one of the best scorers in the league and if Dwight Howard stays, Houston still has a deadly one-two punch. They probably need to make big changes to take a positive step forward, but it’s worth noting that they got to the Western Conference Finals just last year.

Fun Bets

  • Timberwolves +7500
  • Pacers +7500
  • Wizards +7500
  • Jazz +10000
  • Magic +12500

It’s always fun to take a look at the teams with really bad NBA Finals odds and ponder whether or not they could accomplish the impossible. The Warriors came out of nowhere to win last year, while the Cavs came back from a 3-1 hole this year. Those two teams are probably going to be back in the Finals again, but Golden State’s rise does give way to the argument that a young, talented team with the right system and coaching could rise up the ranks pretty quickly.

One team to watch is going to be Minnesota, who has an entire roster of blossoming talent – most notably center Karl-Anthony Towns. Towns was sensational as a rookie and should be even better in year two, while he also is accompanied by Zach Lavine, Andrew Wiggins and Ricky Rubio. With defensive-minded head coach Tom Thibodeau taking over, the Wolves could be ready to become a playoff team and maybe even make a run. It’s not likely, but a $100 bet could return a cool $7,500 if successful.

Indiana is another team potentially worth betting on, as Paul George is back to superstar status after a bad leg injury over a year ago and the Pacers are slowly fielding a contender around him. Indiana could be in the market for upgrades at point guard and center, and if they get the guys they’re looking for, they could quickly be a threat in the Eastern Conference. Washington is in the same boat, as they seemed to be on the rise two years ago and have made coaching changes to hopefully turn things around. Landing Kevin Durant is probably their ticket to their title shot, though, so if they can’t get their hometown kid they’re probably not tantalizing bets.

Utah is a long shot, as well, but they are a very strong defensive team that is slowly but surely improving offensively. They could probably use one more big star player and improved play at the point guard spot, but defensively they’re already a team to fear.

Orlando is even younger than Utah, but they just added Frank Vogel as their new head coach and might have as much raw talent as anyone. They have an intriguing young talent at pretty much every position and have flashed ability in each of the last few seasons. Vogel preaches team unity and defense, so it’s not crazy to imagine the Magic piecing it all together and finally getting back to the playoffs. A title run is probably a pipe dream, but with insane +12500 odds, they’d be a fun preseason bet.

Early 2017 NBA Finals Prediction

The reality is Vegas is alarmingly accurate about pretty much everything when it comes to sports. Minor upsets happen often, but ridiculous upsets don’t come around as frequently. In other words, there isn’t a whole lot of reason to bet on anyone not named the Cavs or Warriors for the 2017 NBA Finals.

There is still the case of the Warriors coming back for revenge and being the best team in the league, plus Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut dealt with injuries and Draymond Green missed a critical game due to suspension. There is also the dilemma for the Cavs of LeBron James still possibly leaving and Kevin Love not being an ideal fit for the team. These teams are still the cream of the crop in their respective conferences, however, and look like the best bets to make it back to the Finals for a third straight showdown.

Ultimately, Cleveland may have stolen the torch this year. They got there a year ago and LeBron James did all he could to keep the Cavs in it, and eventually bowed out after six games. This year he was tasked with the impossible again, but had a better supporting cast and made it happen. Cleveland has ridded themselves of the insane pressure to get that elusive title, they’re confident and they don’t have nearly the path the Dubs do to try to repeat. That makes the Cavs the logical bet to win it all next year.

Related Articles
Leave Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *