Updated 2015-16 NBA Finals Odds: Can Anyone Fend Off the Cavs?
The 2015-16 NBA regular season is just one week away. Next Tuesday we get hit with a three-game slate and suddenly NBA betting takes on a totally new form. Before we get there, of course, we’ll have another chance to reflect on all the commotion of a long summer, new roster changes, injuries and anything else that could sway us from our previous picks to win it all.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are the top choice by most people and the odds (5/2) still reflect that. They’ll begin the season at less than full strength (Kyrie Irving is still rehabbing a knee injury), but are otherwise near-locks to make it out of the Eastern Conference. Teams like the Bulls and Wizards could make life difficult on the Cavs, but ultimately Cleveland is going back to the NBA Finals.
The real question lies in the Western Conference, where the Warriors will naturally try to repeat, but face stiff competition in many forms.
Let’s break down the top contenders (not from Cleveland) based off of odds and come to a final verdict before the season tips off:
San Antonio Spurs (7/2 odds to win it all)
San Antonio has been in two of the last three NBA Finals series and last won two years ago. Losing right away in round one last year was an eye-opener, and it had the Spurs running out to get reinforcements. They’re imposing ones, too, as LaMarcus Aldridge and Davis West come in and help San Antonio out-muscle just about anyone.
Those two star names add to an already good-looking roster that boasts the ageless Tim Duncan and one of the league’s best rising talents in Kawhi Leonard. Can the new pieces and the old vets come together at the right time to get the Spurs one last ring before the original Big 3 breaks up? Vegas seems to think so.
Golden State Warriors (11/2)
They’re the champs, so it’s slightly disrespectful of Vegas to not give them the best odds from their own conference at the very least. Trouble is, repeating is tough and doing so in the loaded West is even harder. Golden State returns as strong as ever with the same main guys and even got a little stronger down low by adding Jason Thompson. Could they be even better this year? Perhaps, but they’ll have a target on their back every single night out.
Oklahoma City Thunder (15/2)
OKC could easily have the best odds and few would scoff. Why? Because no team dealt with big injuries on a more frequent basis than the Thunder last year. Kevin Durant is back at full strength and the rest of the roster is healthy, while they also have Enes Kanter for a full season. Before KD went down the Thunder were legit title contenders, so why should we view them differently now?
Los Angeles Clippers (12/1)
Los Angeles is tough to trust, and that’s probably why Vegas has them as the 5th team in the top five. We get that, but keeping DeAndre Jordan and bringing in serious depth via Paul Pierce, Lance Stephenson, Wesley Johnson, Josh Smith and Cole Adrich suddenly has a star-heavy playoff contender looking like championship material.
The Clippers were battle tested last year and ousted a very good Spurs team in round one, only to run out of steam after taking an impressive 3-1 series lead over the Rockets in round two. They need better resolve and a killer instinct they haven’t yet shown. If they can take that next step, the only team that can take them down appears to be themselves.
The Other Favorite: Houston Rockets (22/1)
Houston doesn’t crack the top five when it comes to NBA Finals odds, but perhaps they should. They made it to the Western Conference Semifinals last year and weren’t even close to full strength.
All the Rockets have done since then is add Ty Lawson and get healthy across the board. If healthier come playoff time than they were a year ago, they’re very real threats to the throne.
The Sleeper: Washington Wizards (55/1)
Washington is a fun sleeper and an even better bet when you look at these odds, which are respectable but still yield plenty of profit from a mild bet. John Wall has continued his evolution and is without a doubt a top-5 point guard right now, while Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and Marcin Gortat round out one of the better teams from the East. Can they challenge the Cavs seriously? Probably not, but they could give them a legit fight.
Best Crazy Long Shot: Sacramento Kings (300/1)
Let’s admit it. Few went into last season thinking the Warriors would have the best record in the league, let alone win the title. With a meteoric rise like that, it’s entirely possible it happens elsewhere.
The Kings are not the Warriors and probably won’t win it all, but they certainly have a ton of talent and George Karl has plenty of playoff experience. Sacramento creeping into the playoff conversation is entirely plausible, while the addition of Rajon Rondo could pull this team together. Already boasting studs like DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay, the Kings could easily be that next team on the rise. And with insane 300/1 odds, you can make a mild bet and cross your fingers this year is crazier than the last.
Final Verdict: Cavs Win it All
Ultimately, it’s the Cavs and someone else and if Cleveland is healthy at the end of the year, no one is beating them. Then again, we probably thought that last year. I reckon that’s why they play the games.
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