The NBA’s version of the Final Four is set, and three of the four teams still alive heading into the conference finals are not a surprise, including the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors. Golden State tops the NBA odds to win the championship on its quest for a three-peat as it gets set to take on the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Finals. The Warriors are -165 favorites on the updated title odds on the NBA playoff lines.
The Blazers are the longest shot on the championship lines of the four teams left at +1700 on those NBA playoff odds as they prepare to meet the Warriors starting on Tuesday in Oakland. The Milwaukee Bucks are the second choice to win the NBA championship at +230 and will face the Toronto Raptors (+750) in the Eastern Conference Finals beginning on Wednesday.
The biggest question mark with regards to handicapping the rest of the NBA playoffs is the status of Golden State’s Kevin Durant, who was enjoying another outstanding postseason run before suffering a calf strain in Game 5 of the team’s second-round matchup with the Houston Rockets. The injury was feared to be much worse, and he may or may not be available in the Western Conference Finals; he’s already been ruled out for Game 1.
The Warriors managed to advance with a huge road victory in Game 6 without Durant, and they could probably make it to the NBA Finals again even if he does not play. Winning another title though could prove to be difficult without him whether the team plays Milwaukee or Toronto.
Portland is very well-coached and has a backcourt that could give Golden State trouble with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. The duo combined for 50 points in a 100-96 upset of Denver in Game 7, with McCollum doing most of the damage with 37 points. They also totaled 19 rebounds, nine assists and four steals between them, proving that they can do more than score.
The Blazers are deeper than the Warriors as well, with the benches potentially becoming a bigger factor the longer the series goes. Portland has become more confident in this matchup too, winning four of the past six meetings following an 11-game series losing streak and covering five of the last seven. Golden State is a -550 favorite on the series prices on the NBA playoff betting board.
Bucks are Rested Heading into the Eastern Finals
In the East, the Bucks earned some time off by knocking out the fourth-seeded Boston Celtics in five games while the Raptors went the full distance of seven versus the third-seeded Philadelphia 76ers to get here.
Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard has been the best player in this year’s playoffs after eliminating Philadelphia with an unbelievable game-winning shot in Game 7 on Sunday and finishing with 41 points in a 92-90 win. But Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo is the NBA MVP favorite for the regular season and has a better team surrounding him heading into the conference finals.
The Bucks have won four of the past five meetings both SU and against the spread, with three of those games taking place on the road. Milwaukee’s ability to win away from home is huge considering this squad routed Golden State 134-111 as a 5.5-point road underdog back on November 8 and has won in its last two trips to Oakland as well. The Raptors had the next-best road mark during the regular season at 26-15 behind only the Bucks and Warriors at 27-14, so stealing a game or two may be the difference.
Milwaukee is the -300 favorite on the NBA playoff betting odds to win this third-round series.
*Odds as of May 14