The Toronto Raptors have home-court advantage in the NBA Finals against the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors, but coming away with the victory in the series will not be easy.
Even though Kevin Durant has still not returned from the calf muscle strain he suffered in the Warriors' second-round series against the Houston Rockets, they are favored to retain their title. If the Warriors come up with the series victory, it will be their fourth in five years.
The oddsmakers favor the Warriors to win the series and Game 1. Golden State is a one-point favorite to win the opener, while the over-under is 213.5, per VegasInsider.com.
Warriors as -280 favorites to win the series, while the Raptors are +230 to earn their first championship. A bettor backing the Warriors would have to risk $280 to win $100, while a Raptors backer puts up $100 to win $230.
2019 NBA Finals Schedule
All Times ET.
Game 1: Thursday, May 30 at Toronto (9 p.m., ABC)
Game 2: Sunday, June 2 at Toronto (8 p.m., ABC)
Game 3: Wednesday, June 5 at Golden State (9 p.m., ABC)
Game 4: Friday, June 7 at Golden State (9 p.m., ABC)
Game 5: Monday, June 10 at Toronto (9 p.m., ABC)*
Game 6: Thursday, June 13 at Golden State (9 p.m., ABC)*
Game 7: Sunday, June 16 at Toronto (8 p.m., ABC)*
*If necessary. All games can be live streamed at WatchESPN.
This series marks the first time a Canadian team will have the opportunity to play for the NBA Championship. The Raptors have "We The North" emblazoned on their uniforms, and their home country is fully behind their efforts to end the Warriors' notable dominance in the NBA.
Stephen Curry has taken over the mantle on the Warriors since the high-scoring Durant suffered his injury. He scored at least 35 points in each game of the four-game sweep over the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Finals.
Curry gets plenty of help from fellow Splash Brother Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, and the Warriors clearly know how to play in the championship series and are less likely to feel pressure than their opponents.
The Raptors are led by Kawhi Leonard, who has been phenomenal during the postseason. Leonard hit the series-winning buzzer-beater in the second round against the Philadelphia 76ers, and he punished the Milwaukee Bucks as the Raptors won the final four games of the Eastern Conference Finals after dropping the first two games. Leonard is averaging 31.2 points and connecting on 50.7 percent of his shots from the field in the postseason.
Leonard has been getting excellent support from power forward Pascal Siakam, guard Kyle Lowry and reserve Fred VanVleet.
Siakam is averaging 18.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per game in the postseason, while Lowry is scoring 14.7 points and adding 6.4 assists per game. VanVleet made 11-of-14 three-point attempts in Games 5 and 6 of the series against the Bucks.
Bettors will have the opportunity to make a number of prop bets in the NBA Finals. Gambling.com points out that bettors have a chance to make some quick money by making a wager on the outcome of the first quarter.
The Warriors have done an outstanding job in the first quarter to this point in the playoffs. They have won 13 of the 16 first quarters, and their experience in the NBA Finals could make that number stand out even more in Game 1 of the series. The Warriors are listed at 10-11 to gain the edge in the first quarter.
Green showed how important he is to the Golden State cause in the sweep of the Trail Blazers. His ability to come up with crucial second-chance points, rebounds and assists helped the Warriors close out the series with two road wins in Portland.
Green had triple-doubles in both of those games, and bettors can wager on Green picking up a third straight triple-double, which is priced at 3-1.
Bettors who are looking for bigger payoffs may want to make a wager on a combined prop that requires a Warriors victory and Curry scoring 40 or more points, which is priced at 17-2.
Curry has had five 40-point games in his postseason career, but none of them have come in the championship round. However, with Durant out and the need for scoring, it seems clear that Curry could have a shot at that figure if he can get off to a hot start and sustain his shooting.
The Warriors have not lost in the postseason since Durant's injury, and the thought of getting a leg up on their third consecutive championship means they should not slow down here.
The Raptors are a worthy and tough opponent, but Golden State's experience will allow them to set the tone in the opener.
While the temptation to go with the Golden State victory and Curry scoring 40-plus points is strong, the preference here is the Green triple-double option. Green has been flying since the Durant injury, and he should be a key factor throughout the game.
Green will get his triple-double and his backers will get the 3-1 payoff.