The Golden State Warriors (73-9) enter the Playoffs as outright favorites to repeat as NBA champions, according to Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas.
While the history-making Warriors are 5-7 favorites, LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers have the second best odds at 3-1, followed by the San Antonio Spurs at 7-2, Oklahoma City Thunder at 16-1 and Toronto Raptors and 25-1. As expected, Toronto has the second-best odds out of the East.
Stephen Curry, poised to win his second consecutive MVP award, led his team to a record 73 games during the regular season. Despite beating the Cavaliers 4-2 during last year’s Finals, they didn’t begin the season as favorites. That was primarily because the Cavs missed Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving in the Finals, and oddsmakers favored Lebron’s squad to go the distance this season.
Warriors sweep Cavs, Thunder…
However, the Warriors shattered all the pre-season projections by starting the season with a record 24-0 start before sweeping the Cavs 2-0 (On December 25 and January 19), Thunder 3-0 (On February 6, February 27 and March 3) and beating the Spurs 3-1 in the regular season match-ups.
After all those impressive victories, it was almost a given that Warriors would repeat as NBA champions, unless they suffer a massive meltdown in the postseason.
On Saturday, the Warriors begin their postseason run against the No. 8 seed Houston Rockets in a rematch of last year’s Western Conference Finals. Needless to say, Warriors open that series as heavy favorites. Meanwhile, the injury-ridden Memphis Grizzlies have been given the worst odds in the entire playoff field. They will face the 67-15 San Antonio Spurs in the first round starting Sunday.
Steve Kerr, coach of the Warriors, realizes that his team is under enormous pressure to win the championship, especially after setting such a high benchmark.
“I just told our guys I never in a million years would have guessed that that (Chicago’s) record would ever be broken. I thought it was like (Joe) DiMaggio’s hit streak, really, and I was wrong But I will say the same thing now that I said 20 years ago [as a Bulls player]. I don’t think this one will ever be broken. Somebody’s got to go 74-8. I don’t see it.”
Will Warriors repeat as NBA champions? Or Will Spurs, Thunder or Cavs spoil the juggernaut?