Ultimate Betting Guide to NBA Finals 2019: Warriors-Raptors
Both the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors turned their postseasons around late in Round 2. For the Warriors, Steph Curry picked up the slack for an injured Kevin Durant in Game 6 to finish off a Rockets team that smelled blood in the water. For the Raptors, an iconic Kawhi Leonard buzzer-beater in Game 7 against the Sixers pushed his group to the next round.
As is often the case, both Finals participants were excellent in their respective conference finals. The Warriors disposed of a pesky Blazers team with some late-game dominance, while the Raptors responded from an 0-2 series deficit to win four straight against a 60-win Bucks team that had lost two straight games just once in the regular season.
Odds to Win the NBA Finals
|Golden State Warriors||7/20||1.35|
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Why You Should Bet on the Warriors
Given that both Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins could bolt in free agency this summer, it was oddly poetic that the original trio of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are the reason the Warriors are playing in June for a fifth consecutive season.
Durant’s calf strain suffered in a Game 5 win over the Rockets – and to a lesser extent Cousins’ torn quad in Round 1 – certainly could have derailed this group. The West was an absolute juggernaut this past season.
But the original Big 3 wouldn’t be stopped. If this is what life after Durant and Cousins will be like, the rest of the NBA should be terrified. Without Durant, the Warriors have gone 5-0 with a net rating of 7.7, best in the NBA, and the Curry-Thompson-Green trio has combined for 73.2 points per game.
That’s the core they’ll roll out for Game 1 in Toronto. Durant and Cousins have both been ruled out for Game 1, with the latter appearing closer to a return than the former.
For that reason the Warriors, starting on the road in the postseason for the first time since the Conference Finals last season in Houston, are underdogs for just the third time in the playoffs and the 12th time all season.
But if we’ve learned anything about this team over the last four seasons, it’s to be against them at your own risk. They’ve won three of the last four NBA Finals, and are 14-8 against the spread (and 15-7 straight-up) in those games. Even for a dynasty, those are outstanding numbers, ones fans of NBA betting can’t ignore.
Their competition in the Finals will be much stiffer than what they’ve faced the last two seasons. The Raptors are healthy and have home-court advantage. The Warriors dropped both contests against the Raptors in the regular season after previously winning eight straight against Toronto.
This Leonard-led group is a different animal. Golden State will have its hands full.
Why You Should Bet on the Raptors
It can be easy to forget because so much has transpired since then, but Kawhi Leonard has been on this stage before. In fact, the 22-year-old was named Finals MVP in 2014 after averaging 17.8 points on 61% shooting while acting as the primary defender on LeBron James in a five-game series win over the Miami Heat.
Five seasons later, Leonard is back in the Finals with another daunting task in front of him. The good news is he’s playing the best basketball of his career and has Toronto rolling heading into the franchise’s first ever Finals.
Leonard has averaged 31.2 points on 51% shooting, 8.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 18 postseason games and was lethal down the stretch in the closing minutes of the Raptors’ wins over the Bucks in the East Finals.
If the Raptors are crowned champions, it’ll be because Leonard is able to maintain this remarkable stretch. He dealt with some sort of leg injury during the Milwaukee series but clearly wasn’t hindered, while the conditioning and load management questions are a thing of the past.
But so much is being asked of Leonard, and now he’s being asked to dethrone the two-time defending champs who look unbeatable…before they get Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins back.
Leonard will lean on a rejuvenated Kyle Lowry, who averaged 19.2 points on 50.7/46.5/84.4 shooting against a difficult Bucks defense. Pascal Siakam, a finalist for Most Improved Player, had a few duds against Milwaukee but his versatility will be a major factor against the Warriors’ constantly shifting lineups.
NBA Finals 2019 Best Bet
The strategy against the Warriors has always been finding a way to withstand their runs and score with them. But the Raptors have had the NBA’s second-best defense in the postseason and limited the Bucks to a 106.3 net rating, more than 7 points lower than their regular season average (113.5).
Slowing down the Bucks was impressive, but doing so against the Warriors in the Finals is a whole different level of difficulty. But that’s what it takes to win a championship.
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