Heavily-Favored Warriors not Attracting Betting Action
As has been the case for each of the last 3 years, the Golden State Warriors are set to enter another NBA season as odds-on favorites to win the championship. Most sportsbooks have the 2-time defending champs listed around -200 to win the title for the third consecutive season.
Chalk tends to hit when it comes to betting on the NBA these days. 6 of the last 9 teams to enter the season with the best odds to win the championship have done just that. Each of the last 3 champions (Warriors twice, Cavaliers) have entered the season with the most favorable odds of winning it all.
However, oddsmakers are not as optimistic about the Warriors’ chances this season as they were a year ago. Last year, the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas listed Golden State at -240 to win the title. This year, the FanDuel sportsbook in New Jersey has GSW listed as low as -160.
Their season-long win total prop is set at 61.5 wins, which is also lower than it was ahead of last season. Last year, the Warriors battled some injury issues during the regular season and won 58 games, which was the second-most in the Western Conference behind the Houston Rockets.
Some may see the Warriors’ lowered odds this season as a sign that the title may be more up for grabs than it was last year. However, not everyone believes any of the other 29 teams have much of a chance at dethroning Golden State. Jeff Sherman, who manages the NBA betting odds at the Westgate SuperBook, told ESPN, “If the NBA was more wide open, or at least perceived that way, betting handle would be greater than what we are seeing now. So many teams have little to no chance of winning the title with the lack of parity. At this point, our handle on NHL outrights [to win the Stanley Cup] is greater than NBA outrights.”
Translation: The fact that the Warriors are extremely likely to win a third straight championship has kept some bettors away from wagering on NBA futures ahead of the new season.
Hockey betting interest in Las Vegas has been buoyed by the presence of the hometown franchise, the Golden Knights, but the Warriors’ dominant way remains the primary factor in some bettors deciding against wagering on the NBA championship.
Caesars Palace was another book reportedly taking more bets on hockey than on basketball. A sportsbook director at Caesars told ESPN, “That has more to do with how the market is laid out than the sport itself. There aren’t 8 teams who can win the NBA title. There are only 8 teams in the NHL who can’t win the Stanley Cup.”
MyBookie has Golden State listed at -180 to win the title this season. The Boston Celtics have the next-best odds all the way down at +550, followed by the Houston Rockets at +800. The Los Angeles Lakers (+1200) and Philadelphia 76ers (+1400) round out the top-5.
The Warriors haven’t turned all bettors off to wagering on them, however. In late September, the Westgate took a bet of $67,736.25 on the Warriors to make the playoffs at -10000. The bold wagerer will pocket a net of $677.35 if Golden State manages to finish in the top-8 of the Western Conference standings this season.
Being a heavy favorite is something the Warriors are surely used to at this point. Golden State entered Game 1 of last year’s NBA Finals as a 12.5-point favorite against the Cleveland Cavaliers, which was the largest point spread for a Finals game since 1991. At the time, an executive with CG Technology told ESPN that they had taken a grand total of zero bets on the Warriors to win Game 1 on the moneyline. A bettor would have had to place a $100 bet on the Warriors to win just $10 back. The Cavs, meanwhile, would have netted a bettor $700 on a $100 wager.
The average bet on the Warriors to win the 2017-18 Finals was around $3,400. The average wager on the Cavs to win last season’s Finals was about $120.
Golden State will enter the season as heavy favorites once again. As of this writing, the Warriors are 13.5-point favorites to win their season opener over the Oklahoma City Thunder, who will be playing without former MVP Russell Westbrook. Westbrook will miss the game as he continues to recuperate from offseason knee surgery.
The Celtics will host the 76ers in the first game of the season prior to tipoff in Oakland. Boston enters the game at 5 1/2-point favorites to beat Philadelphia.
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