NBA Conference Finals Shaping Up
With a lackluster and generally non-competitive second round to the NBA Playoffs, the 2018 NBA Conference Finals are taking shape – and shaping up to be a lot more exciting than any of the series so far. While only the Cavaliers have stamped their ticket to the Conference Finals as yet (sweeping the wilting Raptors on the back of LeBron James’ inspired play), each of the other series are sitting at 3-1. Barring historic collapses from any of the favorites in those matchups, the Conference Finals are almost set in stone.
In the Eastern Conference, it’ll likely be the Cavaliers against the Celtics, a matchup made less interesting due to Kyrie Irving’s injury. Remember, Irving played for the Cavs last year, breaking from the team in large part due to his desire to emerge out from behind LeBron’s shadow (which he did to MVP-like numbers early in the season before getting injured and being shut down for the rest of 2018). At most legal online sportsbooks (Bovada, BetDSI, SportsBetting, etc.), the Cavs are heavy favorites to get back to the Finals for the umpteenth time, trending right around -200 (1/2), while Boston is sitting at +250 (5/2) to take the East.
In the Western Conference, it’s almost a certainty that the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets will meet in yet another barnburner of a series. With both teams stacked 12 deep, the Warriors have the advantage of having been there and done that several years in a row, but the Rockets have probable MVP James Harden playing out of his mind, and their rise to dominance may not be impeded by Kevin Durant and the Splash Brothers this time around. While neither team is actually out of their second-round series, this Western Conference Final matchup is as big of a foregone conclusion as you’re ever likely to see in professional sports. Right now, the odds boards at most offshore books (and in Vegas) have the Warriors at -150 (2/3) to win the West, whereas the Rockets are sitting at +160 (8/5). Honestly, that payout on Houston is pretty enticing, as this feels like their year.
Going even further into the future, here’s how the current 2018 NBA Championship odds stand (including all remaining teams in the playoffs) at LegalSportsBettingSites.com:
- Warriors -260 (5/8)
- Rockets +200 (2/1)
- Cavaliers +650 (13/2)
- Celtics +3000 (30/1)
- 76ers +6000 (60/1)
- Pelicans +50000 (500/1)
- Jazz +50000 (500/1)
Still, it’s no use looking too far ahead, and there are games yet to be played. Utah takes on Houston Tuesday night (8:00 PM, TNT), where Harden’s Rockets are -12 favorites to wrap things up against the Jazz (+600). Later Tuesday night, the New Orleans Pelicans face probable elimination against the Golden State Warriors, who are 11.5-point favorites to win the game (TNT, 10:30 PM). And on Wednesday (8:00 PM, TNT), the 76ers take on the surging Celtics, who – despite the absence of superstar Kyrie Irving – are playing out of their collective minds. That said, Boston is actually a 1.5-point underdog at home against Joel Embiid and company, so this one is projected to go 6 or 7 games at most books.