The NBA playoff picture took a major turn on Sunday when Kevin Love left Game 4 between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics with a shoulder injury. The forward is expected to miss a minimum of two weeks with a dislocated shoulder, and the Cavs are no longer favored to win the title.
Cleveland remains the expected NBA Finals representative from the Eastern Conference, but they don’t have the top odds to win the championship, which they did for much of the regular season. The Golden State Warriors have been given the best chance by the oddsmakers to finish the season on top.
Neither the Cavs nor the Warriors had much trouble in the first round, sweeping their respective series. Cleveland won every game in regulation by at least eight points, but Golden State did have one scare. The Warriors needed overtime to win Game 3, having trailed the New Orleans Pelicans by 20 points in the fourth quarter.
The Cavs could become the favorites again if Love returns and proves he’s healthy, but Cleveland might not have an easy time advancing to the conference finals without him. They are likely to play the Chicago Bulls, who have a 3-1 series lead over the Milwaukee Bucks. In addition to losing Love for the foreseeable future, J.R. Smith could be suspended for at least the first game of the next series for hitting Boston’s Jae Crowder.
Golden State will probably take on the Memphis Grizzlies in the next round, as they look to sweep the Portland Trail Blazers. The San Antonio Spurs are considered to be the Warriors’ biggest competition in the West, but the defending champs won’t face Golden State until the conference finals, if at all. San Antonio is tied 2-2 in their series with the Los Angeles Clippers, who took back home-court advantage with a Game 4 victory.
The Houston Rockets’ 12/1 odds are the same as they were when the postseason began. The Bulls have better odds than the Atlanta Hawks, who are the No.1 seed in the East.
Below are the complete betting odds for the 2015 NBA Finals, courtesy of Bovada.lv.
Golden State Warriors 7/4
Cleveland Cavaliers 9/4
San Antonio Spurs 6/1
Chicago Bulls 9/1
Atlanta Hawks 12/1
Houston Rockets 12/1
Los Angeles Clippers 16/1
Memphis Grizzlies 16/1
Washington Wizards 28/1
Dallas Mavericks 300/1
Portland Trail Blazers 500/1
Brooklyn Nets 500/1
Milwaukee Bucks 1000/1