Even a 2-1 series deficit and the threat of a suspension to one of their top players hasn’t stopped the Golden State Warriors from being the favorites to win the 2016 NBA Finals. The defending champs still have the best title odds, following their Game 3 loss in the Western Conference finals.
After setting a record with 73 regular-season wins, the Warriors had -150 odds to win the title. Golden State is no longer an odds-on favorite, but their +130 odds are slightly better than the Cleveland Cavaliers’ +140 chances at Bovada.lv.
Even as they head into Game 4 on the road, the Warriors are considered favorites to get by the Thunder. Stephen Curry and Co. have -155 odds, and Oklahoma City is a +135 underdog in the conference finals. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have +350 odds to win their first ring this season.
Golden State faced multiple 2-1 deficits on their way to winning a title in 2015. They lost two of their first three games against the Memphis Grizzlies in the second round, but they closed out the series with three consecutive wins by 13 points or more. The Warriors won the last three contests of the 2015 NBA Finals to defeat the Cavs in six games, winning by an average of 14 points.
But odds don’t reflect the different kinds of challenges Golden State faces this time around.
Memphis was not a legitimate title contender, and they quickly folded once the Warriors made a few adjustments. Cleveland and LeBron James ran out of gas towards the end of their Game 3 victory, never having much of a chance with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love out for the series. Oklahoma City is in control of the series, and they have two of the sport’s top five or six players.
Oklahoma City was blown out by the San Antonio Spurs in Game 1 of their second-round series, but they went on to win four of five against the team that was thought by many to be the only real threat to Golden State. San Antonio had an historic regular season in their own right, winning 67 games and going 40-1 at home.
Still, the Warriors have overcome every obstacle in their path during their record-setting season. The team has yet to lose back-to-back games, and Sunday’s Game 3 loss was an anomaly, in which the Thunder led by as many as 41 points.
Cleveland would be the underdog in a series against Golden State, and a potential Thunder-Cavs finals might be a tossup. But the No.1 seed in the East is almost the NBA favorite because they are considered a virtual lock to reach the NBA Finals.
The Toronto Raptors can tie up the Eastern Conference finals on Monday night, but they are an afterthought with +7500 odds. The Cavaliers are -2500 favorites to reach the NBA Finals, something James has done in each of the last five years.