- BetOnline has updated NBA Championship odds with the Finals set to begin on Thursday
- The Warriors (-290) are heavy favorites even though Kevin Durant’s status for the series is still uncertain
- The Raptors (+245) are massive underdogs despite the inspired play of star Kahwi Leonard
The Raptors have made their first NBA Finals in franchise history and I think we can all agree that no matter what happens from here, Toronto should commission a giant brass set of balls to be sculpted in Jurassic Park to commemorate Masai Ujiri’s bold gamble to bring Kahwi Leonard to the North.
In an interesting twist, Kahwi will have a chance for revenge against the Warriors, a team his 2017 Spurs club was leading by 22 points in Game 1 of the 2017 West Finals when dirty Zaza Pachulia took him out of the series.
Before our series preview and prediction, let’s check the latest odds at BetOnline.
2019 NBA Championship Odds
|Team||2019 NBA Championship Odds at BetOnline|
|Golden State Warriors||-290|
*Odds taken 05/26/19
Golden State Warriors
Media narratives shift quickly.
One season after Kevin Durant averaged 35.2 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game to win his second straight NBA Finals MVP against LeBron James and the Cavaliers, the Warriors could have the chance to win the championship without their injured star and make it seem like they would have three-peated without him.
“It’s been that way since I got here, it’s the Warriors and KD.”
– Kevin Durant on fans and the media splitting him from the team pic.twitter.com/lsWGFnNXrU
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 24, 2019
Never mind the fact that KD was averaging 34.2 points in the postseason prior to the injury against the Rockets. Golden State has gone 5-0 since the 10-time All-Star strained his calf, with a rejuvenated Draymond Green almost averaging a triple-double in the Portland sweep and Steph Curry exploding for 30 points in every game without Durant.
Whether the narrative is fair or not, the next couple of weeks will go a long way in shaping how we all look at KD’s career.
When asked how he would deal with the sideline antics of a certain rapper/masseur, Draymond had the highly-entertaining response you would expect from one of the game’s premier trash talkers:
“Drake can’t shoot… Nor can he pass,” he said to reporters on Thursday. “You ever seen Drake play basketball?” he added. “I saw a couple of highlights. It wasn’t so hot.” (Drake air ball video available here).
Drake already has an NBA Finals hat and just gave Nick Nurse another shoulder massage LMFAO pic.twitter.com/7SAVkTo96W
— The Man Who Sold The World (@LordBalvin) May 26, 2019
Okay, so we’ve established the Warriors aren’t worried about the Raptors’ #1 fan, who curiously has tattoos of Curry and Durant on his left arm. But they’re almost certainly concerned about 2014 NBA Finals MVP Kahwi Leonard, who is averaging an ungodly 31.2 points, 8.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and a 55 eFG% in the postseason; a feat accomplished by only three players in history (LeBron, Kareem and Shaq).
The two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year winner just shut down Giannis Antetokounmpo better than anyone had before, and with Durant likely out of the picture, “the Klaw” will should give All-NBA snubee Klay Thompson another reason to be frustrated.
Kawhi Leonard: King in the North ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/SLVbSJpesN
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) May 26, 2019
That said, it’s difficult to imagine Toronto stopping Steph. I think Curry will capture his fourth Larry O’Brien Trophy along with his first Finals MVP, joining a short list of players (LeBron, Duncan, Jordan, Bird, Kareem, and Russell) with multiple NBA MVPs (2015, 2016), three-plus titles, and a Finals MVP.
Pick: Golden State Warriors in 6