NBA Finals Game 1 Betting Pick: Golden State Warriors vs Toronto Raptors

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The Golden State Warriors locked up their spot in the 2019 NBA Finals with relative ease, sweeping the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Finals. On the other side of the bracket, the Toronto Raptors overcame a 2-0 series deficit to the Milwaukee Bucks in order to win their Eastern Conference Finals series in six games. Thursday night, the two will square off to open their best-of-seven series to determine the 2019 NBA Champion.

Golden State’s Stephen Curry has found the right time to catch fire (as usual). Since Kevin Durant’s injury forced him out of Game 5 of the Warriors’ Round 2 series against Houston, Curry has averaged 35 points a game. Durant is out for Game 1, while teammate DeMarcus Cousins is listed as questionable to play. Cousins has been out since Game 2 of Round 1, when he was injured against the Los Angeles Clippers.

For Toronto, this is the first time in franchise history that they’ve made it to the NBA Finals. Kawhi Leonard has been a monster all postseason, averaging better numbers across the entire postseason than even Curry. Overall, Leonard is averaging over 31 points and just shy of nine rebounds per game. His shooting percentage might be the most impressive stat, as he’s been better than 50% from the field in the 2019 Playoffs.

The Raptors’ win over Milwaukee marked only the second series this postseason where the team with the worse regular season record won (the first being Portland’s Round 2 win over Denver). If Golden State were to win the series, it would make for a third. The Raptors had a slightly better regular season record than Golden State, so they’ll get to host Game 1. For Toronto, that could be a key, as they’ve posted a strong 8-2 mark in home games this postseason compared to just a 4-4 record on the road.

Both teams enter Game 1 on lengthy winning streaks. Toronto won four straight to close out the Bucks in the Conference Finals, while Golden State hasn’t lost a game since Game 4 of Round 2, rattling off six consecutive victories. The Warriors are held as slight, one-point favorites for Game 1 on most betting websites, though some posted Toronto as one-point favorites in the days leading up to the game. The payout odds on the spread for Golden State (where favored) has varied between -110 and -115, with the moneyline paying at -120 for a straight win.

Toronto is hosting its first-ever NBA Finals game (the first for all of Canada, in fact), and I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Raptors win one of the first two games of this series (we’d likely be headed towards a sweep if Golden State leaves Toronto up 2-0). However, as I’ve said previously this postseason, any time you can get the Warriors at about an even-money (or better) payout, you have to take them to win, even if you might lean towards their opponents for that game.

My advice is to shop around before deciding which wager to place. I’m picking Golden State to win and giving up a single point to get better odds isn’t a bad idea, so long as it actually makes a difference. Going from -120 to -115 isn’t worth giving up a point, in my opinion, but getting -110 odds would be. Keep in mind that, if you’re betting on the favorite, giving up one point just means that you’d push instead of win for a one-point victory. There is still no situation where the team you’d pick wins and you’d lose your wager with a one-point spread.

If you can find the Warriors as the underdogs, however slightly, I’d take them on the moneyline (where they should then be somewhere around even-money, give or take). If they’re favored, give me the -120 moneyline unless it’s a -1 (-110) spread bet.

Drew Goldfarb

Drew has been covering sports professionally since 2007, covering sports of all kinds in the ACC, SEC, Big 12 and Conference USA. In addition to covering college sports, he also spent two seasons working with the NHL's Florida Panthers as part of their TV broadcast team, as well as reporting and anchoring for AT&T SportsNet and FOX Sports affiliates, CBS Sports Network and ESPNU. Drew has also ...

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