With Kevin Durant sitting and DeMarcus Cousins questionable, the Warriors wagering line remains forged in stone
Everyone has a weakness, even Superman. He knew there was a very limited supply of kryptonite out there waiting to weaken him and potentially take him down from defeating the bad guys.
Not the Golden State Warriors. There seems to be no substance or force on Planet Earth to stop them from securing their third straight NBA Championship trophy and fourth out of the last five years. You would think mega power forward DeMarcus Cousins lost again for "perhaps" the remaining playoffs would make some disturbance in the future betting line. Uh uh, no sir.
Cousins suffered a torn quad during the Warriors' Game 2 loss in the first round against the Los Angeles Clippers, and though he didn't need surgery to repair the injury, the team had previously noted that it was unlikely he would return in the postseason. Now with CIA-like secrecy involved, it seems that Cousins may indeed make it back should the Warriors reach the NBA Finals.
Now, debatably the best player in the NBA, Kevin Durant has been declared out for the first two games of the Western semi-finals and who knows, maybe somewhat longer. Durant's calf injury appears to be much more serious than originally believed with day to day status posted.
"I think everyone needs to slow down a little bit on the Kevin stuff," Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said Monday afternoon. "He hasn't even stepped on the floor yet ... DeMarcus is probably similar. He hasn't had any live stuff on the court yet. He's not that close either. Hopefully, another week goes by and he'll get better and now we have a better prognosis but at this point, we're getting ready for this series without both."
Meanwhile, bettors haven’t sought out Rosetta Stone for a translation. A recent check on the list of the preferred sportsbooks has indicated Golden State locked around their overwhelming favorite number of -170 to -185 going into this next round with the Portland Trail Blazers. In our "what have you done for me lately society", now that the Warriors have captured Game One against the Blazers, they are now posted at -200 to win it all at major sportsbook 5Dimes.
The Market Price Theory
Going back before the NBA season started the Warriors held an unofficial record to date as likely the largest favorite to win a championship among the major four U.S. sports. Popular sportsbooks, including Bovada and BetOnline wasted no time in putting Golden State up at intimidating odds of -175 back in September 2018 during the NBA pre-season.
Bettors didn’t flinch. It’s been assumed before the first dribble of the regular season it was the Warriors championship to lose and every other team was playing for second place. Despite Cousins being on the shelf with his original leg injury until January, there was no doubt or lack of confidence. The Warriors easily going under their season Over-Under win total didn’t disturb the line either. In January, when the Warriors had the second-best record in the NBA, they still were locked at -160 to win the championship at most preferred sportsbooks.
Part of this reasoning may be akin to retailing or stock market pricing. In the minds of oddsmakers, there just wasn’t any smart need to devaluate their price while bettors continued to contribute their money. Teams like the Milwaukee Bucks, Houston Rockets and the Toronto Raptors showed promise, but didn’t draw much consistent support within the future wagering pool.
Unlike other sports, including Major League Baseball and NHL Hockey that feature series wagering, NBA futures history hasn't been kind to upsets and bettors have seemingly refused to be fooled. An upset can happen in one game, ala the NCAA College Basketball Championship or perhaps the NFL Playoffs, but beating an NBA team four out of seven in a series (especially the Warriors) is deemed very unlikely. The odds reflect it along with the current results. We now have the #1 seed Milwaukee Bucks matched against the #2 Toronto Raptors in the East. In the West, the #1 Warriors are waiting to push aside the #3 Trail Blazers.
Has the Wagering Train Left the Station?
Anyone still hoping to cash-in on a near certain Warriors three-peat is left with a perspective question. Are the intimidating lopsided odds still worth taking at this late stage of the playoffs? Or a foolish risk considering the overwhelming price? At this juncture, here are current odds for the NBA Championship AFTER Game Two of the Western Finals on Thursday night per 5Dimes with most preferred sportsbooks offering similar odds:
Golden State Warriors -225
Milwaukee Bucks +240
Toronto Raptors +2100
Portland Trail Blazers +6200
This is perhaps a "glass half empty, glass half full" debate. Conceding the title to the Warriors, not a bad opportunity IF you jump on board immediately. Remember, investors had to ride out an entire regular PLUS playoff season with identical odds getting to this juncture. That just doesn’t occur in comparable situations to the NFL, MLB or NHL.
The glass half empty scenario worries about the health of Durant and underestimating the value of Cousins not playing at full strength once the Warriors potentially make the finals. Another negative factor is the continued momentum of the Milwaukee Bucks, reflected by their new lowered +240 price on the board. In retrospect, the 21-1 on the Raptors and 62-1 on the Blazers are bad numbers considering their legitimate chances. They make the current -225 seem like excellent value.
Coulda Woulda Shoulda Summer
The ten-week lull between the end of the NBA Finals and the start of the NFL and College Football season often feels like forever for the traditional sports bettor. Throwing in the dog days of baseball wagering, the WNBA and some feature golf and horse racing events just doesn’t cut it.
Looking at the odds board, I am not buying anyone is fooled in believing the Splash Brothers don’t hoist another trophy come mid-June. Beating them one or two games, yes. But not four out of seven in a series. Live with a -200 to -250 kryptonite price that will look good at the beach this Summer.
Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at OSGA.com. For weekly betting insights, including previews and picks from Glenn, click here.