The mass majority of bettors and basketball fans have felt like the regular season has been inconsequential. The playoffs are when they real excitement begins. The wait is over as the regular season ends on Wednesday, which makes this the optimal time to have a look at the latest NBA championship futures.
Golden State (-150) and Cleveland (+333) are being tapped for a third straight meeting in the Finals while San Antonio (+600) is third in line.
For a second straight season, the Warriors are going to finish with the most wins in the league. When they’re clicking with Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and company, they really look unstoppable.
The Cavaliers have had their issues this season with health and defense, but they also have LeBron James, who has been to six Finals in a row with Miami and Cleveland. It is really tough to think that someone from the East can take them out but the Cavs have struggled of late. They’re even willing to rest their stars down the stretch of the season even if it costs them the No. 1 seed in the conference.
Meanwhile, the Spurs are going to have the second most wins in the NBA. While Kawhi Leonard has had an MVP-like season, there is general skepticism that this team can knock off the Warriors. They have the best coach in the league in Gregg Popovich but they appear to be a touch short on talent.
The next tier features Houston (+1400) and Boston (+1400). The emergence of James Harden in Mike D’Antoni’s system has been one of the stories of the season in the NBA. Harden is second in the league in scoring and first in assists. With a slew of shooters around him, only the Warriors have scored more points than the Rockets per game.
However, what happens if those shots aren’t falling? Only Denver, the Los Angeles Lakers, Brooklyn and Phoenix have allowed more points per game. We’ve seen how D’Antoni’s system works in the playoffs in the past and that’s a concern.
The Celtics have had a great season as well. Isaiah Thomas was an MVP candidate for a couple months, but it’s tough to depend on a team whose best player is 5’9. What’s concerning is that the Cavaliers thrashed the Celtics in Boston last week, which made a lot of experts suggest that the Celtics just weren’t ready for primetime just yet.
The rest of the field are basically longshots as Washington (+3300) and Toronto (+3300) are hanging around in the East, while the Los Angeles Clippers (+5000), Utah (+5000) and Oklahoma City (+10000) should be mentioned.
The Raptors are a team that many feel could legitimately challenge the Cavaliers. Remember, they took Cleveland to six games in the Eastern Conference Finals last season. With a couple of breaks, they could make it interesting.
The Clippers and Jazz actually cancel each other out as they’re going to meet in the first round. Finally, the Thunder only get mentioned because of Russell Westbrook, who will officially average a triple-double this season while breaking Oscar Robertson’s record for total triple-doubles. They’re not going to come close to the championship because they don’t appear to have much outside of Westbrook. They might not make it out of the first round as they’ll have to face off with Houston in the first round without home-court advantage.