The NBA Finals kick off on Thursday evening at 8 pm CST, and though the Warriors open as heavy favorites--(-290) to win the series via FanDuel, (-280) via BetOnline.AG--there are plenty of interesting directions bettors can go in in regards to what should be a fascinating series to bet on. Here my five best bets for the NBA Finals (all odds provided via FanDuel Sportsbook unless otherwise indicated).
Betting odds explained here.
1. Toronto--making their first NBA Finals appearance--open up as +230 underdogs to win the 2019 NBA Championship, a solid value for the Kawhi apologists of the world. The Raptors actually played well against the Warriors in the 2018-19 regular season, sweeping them 2-0 in the season series.
The Raptors won the two games by a combined score of 244-221, with Kawhi Leonard (37 PTS in a late November win over the Warriors) only playing in one of the two games.
2. For those looking to get some action on the length of the series, you get the best value by taking a strong stance on the Warriors dynasty rampaging on in impressive fashion. The odds of the series going 4 games is +460, but to get the most bang for your buck, combining that with a Warriors sweep bet (+500) would do wonders for your chances of maxing out your winnings.
If you are going to bet that the series ends in a sweep in general, chances are that you aren’t predicting that the Warriors--who are a perfect 6-0 without Kevin Durant in the postseason--fail to win a single game.
3. With Durant guaranteed to miss at least the first game of the NBA Finals, the top point scorer bet is a fun one. Steph Curry is the runaway favorite to finish as the top point scorer of the Finals with predictable -135 odds, with Leonard not too far behind at +100. If you are the (extremely) adventurous type, Klay Thompson (+1600) and Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry (+10000) are big-time longshots to finish as the top point scorers.
Lowry’s (longshot) chances are indirectly tied to NBA All-Defensive Second Team forward Draymond Green. Whether or not he is directly matched up with him, Green will no doubt play a huge part in trying to slow down the ruthlessly efficient Leonard. If Green is able to slow down Leonard to a large degree, expect Lowry--who averaged 19.2 PPG in the Eastern Conference Finals--to try to take over the scoring reigns. If the Raptors win the title without Leonard racking up high-point totals, that likely means Kyle Lowry went supernova scoring-wise.
Along the same train of thought, if Curry is bottled up by the same incredible Raptors defense that is second among playoff teams in defensive rating (102.4), expect the taller Splash Brother. (Thompson) to turn in a signature series as he continues to help the Dubs compensate for the loss of KD’s scoring.
4. The total rebounds bet is one that is tough to predict. The Warriors are 4th among playoff teams in total rebound percentage, while the Raptors rank a distant 13th in the same category.
Green is the favorite to lead the way in total rebounds at -220, but Leonard is the best bet here at +280. Pascal Siakam is a very active defender but only has a 10.5 percent rebound rate. Expect Siakam and Marc Gasol to play a big part in boxing out to keep Green and hyperactive Warriors’ center Kevon Looney (2.1 offensive rebounds per game in the playoffs) off the offensive glass, leaving plenty of free defensive rebounds for Leonard to collect as the Raptors try to grind out the offensively potent Warriors.
5. The odds that everyone has been waiting for are the NBA Finals MVP prop bets. If you believe the Raptors are going to win this series--or if like most of the US, you simply want the Raptors to win--then Leonard at +245 is the way to go. Curry’s odds at winning NBA Finals MVP are -154, which are somewhat expected odds seeing as Curry (27.3 PPG in the 2018-19 postseason) is the driving force behind the Dubs 6-0 record in the playoffs without KD.
For the brave of heart, Green at +700 are solid odds if you think the Finals will play out like in 2014-15, where Andre Iguodala won Finals MVP for his stellar defense on LeBron James despite Curry leading the way on offense.
For those who are absolutely among the boldest of the bunch, betting on Kevin Durant to take home his third straight Finals MVP would net you the best return on your investment should he pick up where he left off this postseason. Durant is already confirmed to be out for Game 1, but if the Warriors are in trouble after two games in Toronto, a triumphant return from Durant could be enough to sway voters. The odds for Durant to win Finals MVP are +1600 and if you believe that he will play in over three games in this series, why not take a chance on KD regaining his peak playoff form?
We would be remiss if we didn’t leave you with one 2019 NBA Draft nugget. More specific props will no doubt come out as we get closer to the draft, but one specific head-to-head prop should have Bulls fans intrigued. Via SportsBettingDime.com, there is a bet on who will get drafted first between De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish.
Hunter is the current favorite of the two ACC products to get drafted, with -160 odds. Reddish’s odds are +120 to get drafted before Hunter and I definitely prefer Reddish in this one. Hunter is the superior prospect at the moment but I could see all the teams in the top 10 passing on him simply due to his age (21 years old). On the flip side, I can’t see the 19-year old Reddish making it past the Bulls at No. 7 due to his age, measurements and shooting potential that NBA scouts still believe in.