NBA Finals 2017: Predictions, Championship Odds for Remaining Teams

Andy Bailey@@AndrewDBaileyFeatured ColumnistMay 21, 2017

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MAY 20:  Stephen Curry #30 and Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors react on the bench during the fourth quarter against the San Antonio Spurs during Game Three of the 2017 NBA Western Conference Finals at AT&T Center on May 20, 2017 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

What seemed like a foregone conclusion when the Golden State Warriors signed Kevin Durant last July may actually be one.

The Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers are rolling through their respective conference finals. Both teams are undefeated in the postseason. Both teams have average differentials of over 13 points per game. The chances they would meet approached inevitable weeks ago despite what Draymond Green might have you believe:


Draymond on Cavs-Dubs being inevitable: "It's not inevitable. We lost a lead before."

So what are the odds for the title? Now that both teams have effectively eliminated the competition—both the San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics are missing their best players because of injury—we can take a look at the team Vegas thinks will win it all, thanks to OddsShark:

  1. Golden State Warriors: -400
  2. Cleveland Cavaliers: +250
  3. Boston Celtics: +5000
  4. San Antonio Spurs: +5000



As you can see, a bet on San Antonio at this point isn't exactly smart. But that might not have been the case without Zaza Pachulia.

San Antonio was up 23 in the third quarter of in Game 1 when Pachulia slid under Kawhi Leonard's feet on a closeout, knocking him out of the game with an ankle injury. In the 104 minutes since the injury, Golden State has outscored the Spurs by 71 points.

If not for the now-infamous closeout, San Antonio almost certainly wins Game 1 and still has its best player. But as the old saying goes, ifs and buts are not candy and nuts. The reality of this situation is the Spurs are all but toast.



Unlike San Antonio, the Celtics never had much of a chance in the Eastern Conference Finals. Cleveland was never threatened in Game 1, then proceeded to build the largest halftime lead in playoff history (41 points) in Game 2. And both those games were in Boston.

The series now shifts to Cleveland, and Isaiah Thomas has been ruled out for the rest of the postseason:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

BREAKING: Isaiah Thomas ruled out the remainder of the postseason. https://t.co/PXI5oHGs5g

It's hard to imagine things getting much uglier than they were in Game 2, but this squad without its biggest offensive threat could stretch our imaginations.



In a recent episode of Salt City Hoops, Ben Anderson wondered whether people would give the Cavs a chance against the Warriors if we substituted LeBron James' name with Michael Jordan's.

His point? Many still see Jordan as the greatest ever, and LeBron is playing at his level. In fact, he has been for some time.

James is first all time in career playoff Box Plus-Minus, per Basketball Reference. During Cleveland's 13-game postseason winning streak, he's averaged 34.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, 7.7 assists, 2.5 steals and 1.8 blocks. His shooting percentages in this absurd stretch are 55.2 from the field and 44.9 from three (good for a .648 True Shooting Percentage).

If there's anyone who can put up a fight against one of the greatest teams ever assembled, it's LeBron.



Having said that, it's still pretty difficult to see anyone beating the Warriors four times out of seven.

Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant are both rolling. Curry is averaging 27.9 points with a True Shooting Percentage of .671, per the league's official site. Durant's at 24.8 points on .651 true shooting.

And probably more important than that, Golden State's Green-led defense is the best in the playoffs. The Warriors are allowing just 98.4 points per 100 possessions, per the league's website. No other team is under 100.

This team is peaking.

A team that won 73 games last season and added one of the greatest scorers of all time (Durant's first in True Shooting Percentage among the 12 players with career scoring averages over 25) is peaking.

It should be a pretty frightening thought for the rest of the league, and that includes the Cavs. Minus a legacy-sealing performance from LeBron (again, not impossible), Golden State is likely taking Round 3 of this Finals rivalry.


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