Golden State Warriors v Chicago Bulls

We’re one day away from the NBA Finals. Plenty of bettors are already in on the action. Yesterday, we analyzed the prop bets for individual stat leaders for the series. Today, we’ll break down some of the bigger picture bets featured on the DraftKings Sportsbook and get an idea of where the money is being placed.

NBA Finals Betting Splits

Warriors to Win (-286): 58% of Money, 33% of Bets
Raptors to Win (+225): 42% of Money, 67% of Bets

Note: All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook

This was to be expected. We’ve seen the Warriors win three out of the past four NBA Finals, and they’re not showing any signs of slowing down. If Golden State gets Kevin Durant or DeMarcus Cousins back from injury, never mind BOTH, Toronto will have a difficult time creating a gameplan to account for such star power. So it makes sense bettors are placing a majority of their money on the Warriors, while the Raptors are getting the majority of bets. Let’s dig a little deeper.

NBA Finals Correct Score Betting Splits

Warriors to Win 4-0 (+550): 32% of Money, 24% of Bets
Warriors to Win 4-1 (+350): 30% of Money, 32% of Bets
Warriors to Win 4-2 (+250): 14% of Money, 17% of Bets
Warriors to Win 4-3 (+550): 2% of Money, 4% of Bets
Raptors to Win 4-0 (+4000): 3% of Money, 4% of Bets
Raptors to Win 4-1 (+1200): 5% of Money, 3% of Bets
Raptors to Win 4-2 (+1000): 6% of Money, 11% of Bets
Raptors to Win 4-3 (+550): 8% of Money, 6% of Bets

This gives us better insight into which team bettors believe will win. With 78% of the money and 77% of the bets being placed on any Warriors’ victory outcome, it’s clear not many people have faith in the Raptors. And while I think it’s safe to say Golden State is about to lift its fourth Larry O’Brien Trophy in five seasons, I don’t think we’re giving Toronto enough credit. This NBA Finals matchup is different than the Warriors’ past four in several ways, and we have to take those into account.

First and foremost, it’s a new opponent. We had grown accustomed to the Warriors vs. LeBron narrative, but everything has changed with James’ move to LA. Many will say this gives Golden State an easier path to victory, but this is a challenge it hasn’t faced in the Finals. For reference, the Raptors won the regular season series 2-0. Those two games, in theory, make all the difference. The Raptors finished the season with one more win than the Warriors, which gives them home-court advantage in this series. Out of its previous 19 postseason series, Golden State has found itself only once without home-court advantage. Yes, the Warriors won that series against the Rockets, but the point still exists. The Raptors will be able to set the tone for the series, something this Warriors team has never experienced in the NBA Finals.

NBA Finals MVP Betting Splits

— Klay Thompson (+2000): 33% of Money, 39% of Bets
— Stephen Curry (-136): 24% of Money, 10% of Bets
— Kawhi Leonard (+225): 22% of Money, 13% of Bets
— Draymond Green (+700): 10% of Money, 17% of Bets
— Kevin Durant (+900): 7% of Money, 10% of Bets
— DeMarcus Cousins (+20000): 2% of Money, 7% of Bets
— Kyle Lowry (+3000): 1% of Money, 2% of Bets
— Pascal Siakam (+5000): 1% of Money, 1% of Bets
— Serge Ibaka (+10000): 0% of Money, 1% of Bets

Even the NBA Finals MVP splits gives us an indication (indirectly) of which team bettors think will win the series. Since its inception in 1969, only one player from the losing team has won the award, that being Jerry West in 1969. Many argued LeBron James should’ve won it in at least one of Cleveland’s three losses to Golden State, but he didn’t, and that furthers the point the MVP most likely will hail from the winning team.

Bettors are clearly backing the Warriors in that regard, and Klay Thompson is the crowd favorite. Stephen Curry is the favorite due to his outstanding recent play, as well as Kevin Durant’s unclear timeline to return from injury. But fans have criticized Curry for not showing up in the NBA Finals in the past, and that could be the reasoning behind bettors’ decisions, aside from the bigger payout if Thompson wins the MVP.

Speaking of big payouts, DeMarcus Cousins (+20000) is questionable to return for Game 1. It’s likely he’ll be on a minutes restriction if he does play, but it could be a long series. If Cousins lays it all on the line for a championship, it’s not so far-fetched to think he’d be an MVP candidate, which is why 7% of the total bets are on Boogie.

This NBA Finals series is bound to be exciting, if not for the sole reason the Warriors are facing a new opponent. Let’s get started.

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