- The Golden State Warriors are still the odds-on favorites to win their third straight NBA championship
- The Raptors, Bucks, Pistons, and Pelicans are the last of the NBA’s unbeaten teams
- LeBron and the Lakers appear to be finding their groove after back-to-back wins
Golden State’s quest for a third consecutive NBA championship officially got underway on October 16th when the Warriors trounced the Thunder 108-100 at home. Steve Kerr’s squad has since pulled out convincing wins against the Jazz, Suns, and Wizards, and continues to be the odds-on favorite to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy this June.
The Warriors are presently available at -175 at Bovada and have a healthy lead over the Celtics, Rockets, and Lakers. We’ve included Bovada’s updated 2019 NBA Championship odds below along with our five takeaways from the first five games of the season.
2019 NBA Championship Odds
|Team||Odds to Win the 2019 NBA Championship at Bovada (10/26/18)|
|Golden State Warriors||-175|
|Los Angeles Lakers||+1000|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||+3000|
|New Orleans Pelicans||+4500|
|San Antonio Spurs||+7000|
|Portland Trail Blazers||+8000|
|Los Angeles Clippers||+25000|
|New York Knicks||+40000|
The Raptors Have Never Been Better
Toronto is off to its best start in franchise history, and much of the credit goes to team president Masai Ujiri for overseeing the team’s ballsy offseason shakeup. It would have been easy to stand pat after finishing first in the Eastern Conference in 2017-18, but Ujiri refused to accept the status quo. He brazenly fired Coach of the Year Dwane Casey and dealt the franchise’s all-time leading scorer, DeMar DeRozan, to San Antonio for enigmatic forward Kawhi Leonard.
Kawhi Leonard with the no-look steal. That alone merits 1st Team All-Defense. pic.twitter.com/Tw7vinmVrW
— HoopsHype (@hoopshype) October 25, 2018
It was a make or break move and so far it’s made the Raptors into a substantially better team. Toronto is 5-0 and Leonard is averaging a career-high 28 points in 35 minutes per game.
Fortune truly does favor the bold.
Mike Budenholzer Has Been Working Wonders in Milwaukee
It was painful watching Jason Kidd and Joe Prunty roll out a junior high school-level offense in Milwaukee last year. Both coaches relied on far too many isolation sets and allowed defenses to consistently pack in the paint.
That’s no longer an issue now that Mike Budenholzer is calling the shots. The Former Coach of the Year has the Bucks playing with more space and pace and has empowered all five players on the court. Milwaukee is presently third in three-point attempts at 40.8 and eighth in field goals attempted at 90.8. Compare that to a year ago when they were 25th in threes attempted at 25.7 and 28th in field goals attempted at 83.0.
The best from @Giannis_An34 tonight:
32 PTS | 18 REB | 10 AST pic.twitter.com/5qMUvas7Dq
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) October 25, 2018
The net result for the Bucks is an unblemished 4-0 record and an 11.0 point differential.
The Hawks Are Surprisingly Competitive
If the season ended today, the Hawks would be in the playoffs. No, that isn’t a typo. Atlanta is 2-2 and in seventh place in the Eastern Conference. The secret to their success has been playing at an absurdly breakneck speed, as the Hawks lead the NBA in pace at 109.0. That number probably isn’t sustainable over the course of a full season, but it’s been working well so far for Taurean Prince, who’s averaging a career-high 21.8 points per game, and Trae Young, who’s putting up 21.5 points and 7.5 assists in his first season in the league.
Trae Young is an extremely underrated playmaker, finds Taurean Prince when he wasn’t expecting it. pic.twitter.com/kc6y6p2HcN
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) October 25, 2018
It’s ultimately in the Hawks’ best interest to lose (and they eventually will), but for now at least it’s fun to watch these baby birds fly.
The Magic is Back in Motown
The Pistons were largely lambasted for trading for Blake Griffin and his gargantuan contract last year, but the five-time All-Star has been a big difference maker in Detroit. Griffin dropped a cool 50 points on Phily’s vaunted D on October 23rd, and is averaging 33.8 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists in 37.3 minutes per game. History suggests that he’ll likely break down at some point, but the Pistons are a legitimate playoff contender when he’s in the lineup.
— Sport Memeset (@sportmemeset) October 24, 2018
LeBron and the Lakers are Going to Need a Little Time
Much was made of the Lakers’ disappointing 0-3 start, but LA seems to be figuring things out on the fly. Luke Walton’s squad enjoyed a satisfying 131-113 win against the Suns on Wednesday and crushed the previously unbeaten Nuggets 121-114 the following night.
— Alexis Bullen (@alexis_bullen) October 26, 2018
LA’s defense has been atrocious and their outside shooting is a legitimate concern, but the Lakers have done an outstanding job of pushing the tempo and aggressively attacking other teams. The next step is to settle upon a consistent rotation. Josh Hart (15.6 points, 5.2 rebounds per game) has proven that he deserves to start ahead of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Lonzo Ball has flourished during Rajon Rondo’s suspension. The Lakers are a better team when both young players play major minutes. Here’s hoping Walton gives them the burn they deserve.