Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
The Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers are both going for their third straight conference titles this year in the West and East, respectively. And each of them are heavy favorites to make it to the NBA Finals again.
But the Warriors have a tougher path this season, and the Cavaliers do not have the top seed, making it a bigger challenge for them to advance compared to the previous two years.
That being said, Cleveland (51-31) is still a stronger favorite to advance from the East at -275 despite being the No. 2 seed in the conference while Golden State (67-15) is -250 to win the West as the top seed.
The biggest challenge for the Warriors will likely come from either the second-seeded San Antonio Spurs (61-21) or third-seeded Houston Rockets (55-27) in the Western Conference Finals.
The Cavaliers slipping to the second seed means they will probably have to square off against the Toronto Raptors (51-31) a round earlier than last year, when they met in the Eastern Conference Finals. Cleveland beat Toronto 4-2 in that series and will likely have to defeat the Raptors and top-seeded Boston Celtics (53-29) to get back to the NBA Finals for the third year in a row.
The Celtics are listed at +1600 to win their 18th NBA championship, and the Raptors are even longer shots for their first at +3300.
The problem for all the East teams is that the West is simply stronger, with San Antonio (+600) and Houston (+1600) expected to be favored against any team except Cleveland in the NBA Finals if one of them can somehow get past Golden State. The Rockets also have a very dangerous first-round opponent in the Oklahoma City Thunder (47-35), led by NBA MVP favorite Russell Westbrook.
Houston’s James Harden (pictured) will be looking to prove himself as a better player than Westbrook and definitely has the better team. However, Westbrook will be super-motivated as well playing for a +6600 longshot.
Regardless, two of the longest shots on the betting board at +25000 each are the seventh-seeded Indiana Pacers (42-40) and eighth-seeded Chicago Bulls (41-41) in the East, and rightfully so. The Pacers must first play the Cavs while the Bulls take on the Celtics.
One team to watch in the West as a potential sleeper team is the Los Angeles Clippers (51-31) at +5000 to win it all. The fourth-seeded Clippers face the Utah Jazz (51-31) in the first round and are the hottest team in the league with a seven-game winning streak.
The longest shot to win the NBA title is the eighth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers (41-41) in the West at +30000, as they tip off the playoffs versus the Warriors.