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Warriors no longer favorites to win NBA title, says FiveThirtyEight

Warriors no longer favorites to win NBA title, says FiveThirtyEight

The Warriors have been hefty favorites to repeat as NBA Champions since early in the regular season, but their title odds tripped and fell Monday night with a 108-102 loss to the Thunder in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. 

According to FiveThirtyEight.com, Golden State no longer has the best odds of collecting the Larry O'Brien Trophy. Instead Oklahoma City is favored. 

But the margins of advantage are very small. 

FiveThirtyEight's CARM-Elo model gives the Thunder a 56 percent chance of advancing to the Finals (over the Warriors' 44 percent). Because those figures are only 6 percentage points on either side of 50-50, the championship odds for both teams are nearly identical: 36 percent for OKC and 35 percent for Golden State. 

Still, it's the first time a team not led by Stephen Curry has been favored to win it all. 

The Cavaliers, meanwhile, get 25 percent odds of hanging the championship banner (over the Raptors' 5 percent). 

The week-over-week leap in the Thunder's title odds is dramatic, but not unexpected. As of May 10, FiveThirtyEight gave Oklahoma City a 6 percent chance at the 'ship, fourth behind Golden State (47%), San Antonio (25%) and Cleveland (18%). 

All the Thunder did boost their stock was beat the Spurs in six games to advance to the Western Conference Finals, then hand the Warriors their first postseason loss at Oracle Arena in Game 1. 

Suddenly, notching seven more wins doesn't seem like such a longshot. 

For Wizards fans, the prospect of Kevin Durant getting a ring with the Thunder may draw mixed emotions.

It's hard not to root for the likeable local product who grew up going to Mystics games, but an OKC title torpedoes virtually all hope of luring him to Washington in free agency. 

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Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard out against Wizards

Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard out against Wizards

The Wizards will catch a break on Saturday night when they host the Toronto Raptors in the second game of their regular season, as Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard is being held out due to rest.

Leonard, who has been dominant so far for the 2-0 Raptors, is being limited in back-to-backs after he missed 73 games last season due to a quadriceps injury. The Raptors played the night before against the Celtics.

With Leonard out, the Raptors will likely rely on C.J. Miles and O.G. Anunoby at the small forward position. Shooting guard Delon Wright is also out with a shoulder injury.

Though Leonard and Wright are out of the mix, Toronto still has plenty of talent including All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry. Lowry is averaging 21 points, seven assists and 3.5 rebounds through two games. 

Serge Ibaka has been their third-leading scorer with 15 points per game to go along with 6.5 rebounds. They also acquired Danny Green in the Leonard deal and he's off to a strong start with 12.5 points and five rebounds per game.

Leonard's absence may be noticed more on the defensive end, as he is one of the best in the NBA on the perimeter. That could make things a bit easier for Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr.

The Wizards and Raptors next play on Nov. 23. That game is in Toronto.



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Three things to watch for in Wizards' first matchup with Raptors

Three things to watch for in Wizards' first matchup with Raptors

John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka and the Toronto Raptors on Saturday night. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

Here are three things to watch...

Will Howard play?

Once again, we await word from head coach Scott Brooks on the status of Dwight Howard. Howard, who missed all of the Wizards' preseason with a piriformis injury, was a gametime decision for the opener on Thursday. He ended up not playing, but appeared very close to finally making his debut.

Saturday night could be a different story, though we won't know until shortly before gametime. The Wizards' training staff will evaluate him pregame and make the call. If he can't go, Ian Mahinmi will get the nod as starter like he did against Miami.

Need more Otto

Though it wasn't the reason why the Wizards lost to the Heat, it certainly stood out in the box score how Otto Porter Jr. went without a three-point attempt in the opener. Porter finished third in three-point percentage last season with a 44.1 clip. He simply has to be more involved in the offense.

It will be interesting to see what adjustment the Wizards make to create more opportunities for Porter, and how Porter responds. All parties involved insist it is a mix of several factors, including a need for Porter to simply be more aggressive. That won't be easy against a tough Raptors defense, but expect Porter to get up plenty of threes in this one.

Leonard is out

This game was set to be the first matchup between the Wizards and the revamped Raptors, who added perennial All-NBA selection Kawhi Leonard in the biggest trade of the offseason. But it turns out, Leonard will not play.

Toronto is resting Leonard, who played in only nine games all of last season due to a quadriceps injury. It's understandable, given the Raptors played the night before against the tough Boston Celtics.

With Leonard out, All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry will be a big focus. They also got guard Danny Green in the Leonard deal and he's off to an excellent start. He's averaging 12.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 1.5 steals while shooting 50 percent from three so far. Getting him in the trade was a very underrated move by Toronto.