Las Vegas oddsmakers all agreed at the beginning of the 2016 NBA season that the Golden State Warriors were the team to beat, even though they were coming off of a championship loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Adding Kevin Durant sealed the deal with bookmakers when they posted updated title odds in late October of last year. However, things have changed a bit following Kevin Durant’s injury.
KD’s injury, a Grade 2 MCL sprain and a tibial bone bruise in his left knee, was the last thing the Warriors needed as they prepped for a drive at their third straight trip to the NBA Finals. Durant’s injury has Golden State fans in a bit of a panic, and Las Vegas sports books racing to change the NBA Championship odds.
The Sporting News indicates that Golden State began the week at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook as a heavy 5-to-11 favorite to win the title. Those odds (5/11) were even lower than what most sportsbooks had the Warriors at when the season began, which was 5/13.
Now, Westgate oddsmaker Jeff Sherman made a slight upward adjustment to 1-to-2 odds. A few hours later, the Warriors’ price was lengthened to 5/8. All of this sudden movement is due to Durant’s injury and the fact that he has played such a key role in the Warriors success so far this season.
Sherman knows that with the Spurs and Rockets red hot right now, and the Cleveland Cavaliers possibly once again waiting in the wings as the Eastern Conference representative, he had to level the odd playing field.
“The more we looked into it, the Warriors say they are pleased with the prognosis but he’s getting re-evaluated in four weeks, so he could end up being out much longer,” Sherman told Omnisport on Wednesday.
“So it’s sounding more and more like into the playoffs is more probable than an end-of-the- regular-season return, so we adjusted it a little further. It sounds later rather than sooner. There’s a chance he misses the rest of the season including the playoffs,” Sherman added.
With the current adjustment to Golden State’s odds, the prices on other Western Conference contenders moved in the opposite direction. The never say die San Antonio Spurs are currently the No. 2 seed in the conference, and once again they have that look like they are a team that is “finals” ready. San Antonio fell from 8/1 to 7/1 following the news of the possibility of Durant’s season ending, while the Houston Rockets moved from 25/1 to 20/1.
Houston is still listed at a great price, especially considering they are one of the biggest surprises so far in the NBA, and Vegas books still think they aren’t for real, meaning no matter how well they continue to do, they won’t oust San Antonio or Golden State to win the Western Conference.
Other movers and shakers on the odds board include the Los Angeles Clippers, who dropped from 30/1 to 20/1, and the Utah Jazz who had the biggest leap of all, going from 80/1 all the way to 50/1. That drop right there shows that Durant’s injury could possibly be worse than NBA fans know.
In the Eastern Conference, the Cleveland Cavaliers are still the team to beat. The Cavs are listed at -550 to win the east, and are now 3/2 to win the NBA title for the second year in a row. Right behind Cleveland are the Boston Celtics at 20/1 and the Toronto Raptors at 35/1.
Oddsmakers from different sports books do agree on one thing, even if Durant is ruled out for the playoffs, the Warriors won’t get much sympathy from their opponents, and they will still most likely be the favorites to win the 2017 crown.
“They were the favorites the last two years (when Durant wasn’t on the roster), and won one and had a 3-1 lead last year against the Cavs before they blew it,” Sherman said.
Do you think Golden State can win the NBA Championship without Durant in the lineup?
[Featured Image by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images]