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Warriors tied for second in title odds after Kings win

Warriors, Nuggets and Suns are all tied in championship odds. LeBron James is already digging up old rap lyrics to diss Vegas if the Lakers go all the way

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Golden State Warriors v Sacramento Kings - Game Seven
Klay Thompson, probably nursing a grudge against oddsmakers
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors always had better championship odds than their record would indicate. But now that they’ve proved they can win on the road, as long as it’s not the regular season, the oddsmakers have the Dubs’ title chances at 6-to-1, even with Denver and Phoenix. The Lakers? +750.

It’s an unusual year of parity for the NBA, where the second round features one team from each seed 1-8. Of course, these low seeds are unusually strong historically, if aggressively mediocre for portions of the season. The six seed Warriors are the defending champs. The seven seed Lakers won a title in 2020 and have the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. The eight seed Miami Heat have Jimmy Butler, who ingests a heart-shaped herb from Wakanda every year before the playoffs begin.

Boston is a relatively big favorite, but they were last year as well, with some sources waiting until they were down 3-2 in the Finals to make them slight underdogs. But it will be interesting to see what happens after the Warriors-Lakers slugfest, and if the gamblers truly believe in Nikola Jokic or the four-man Suns against LeBron and Steph chasing their fifth rings.

DraftKings Odds

The Boston Celtics are the big favorites (+120), in part because, in Agatha Christie style, the Butler murdered their biggest rivals. With former favorites Milwaukee out of the way and Joel Embiid nursing a sprained knee, Boston has had its playoff path cleared after a stellar regular season. How could you go wrong betting on a huge Boston favorite after a dominant season? Oh.

Golden State now has equal +600 odds to Denver and Phoenix, while the Nuggets are slightly favorites to win the conference after winning Game 1 against the Suns. Denver is +220 to win the West, Golden State is +240, and Phoenix is +275. Los Angeles is +330, to which LeBron would probably say “Sheesh!”

It’s the fifth series battle between Curry and James, because the play-in tournament exists in a weird negative zone in the NBA schedule, where it’s neither regular-season nor playoffs. That means LeBron’s triple-double from the 7-8 play-in game from 2021 effectively didn’t exist. And that means that Curry has the playoff edge, three series to one. A 3-1 lead? Why that’s basically insurmountable! No chance LeBron can overcome that, especially with Tristan Thompson on the roster. As far as we can tell, the Lakers signed Thompson on the last day of the season to give LeBron someone to hang out with, and to attract Kardashians to courtside seats in L.A.

As for Denver and Phoenix, the top-seeded Nuggets handled them in Game One. Phoenix was a popular title choice ever since they traded for Kevin Durant, but in the words of Jay-Z, “We don’t believe you, you need more people.” (That music reference is old even for LeBron.) Phoenix has four max-ish players in Durant, Devin Booker, Chris Paul, and Deandre Ayton. After that? They have Torrey Craig. Their bench is lightweight, Denver’s three-point shooters make them hesitate. Bet against Durant in the playoffs at your own peril, but bet against Chris Paul? It’s hotel, motel, Holiday Inn. If his hamstring starts acting up, their season’s at an end. (The rap lyrics don’t get older than that one!)

The Heat are on a four-game win streak after taking out Milwaukee in five games, but Jimmy Butler sprained his ankle at the end of their Game 1 win over the Knicks. He’ll be undergoing intense treatment, Heat Culture-style. First, Udonis Haslem berates the ankle every 30 minutes, calling it “soft” and questioning the ankle’s commitment. Then the Heat staff shames the swollen ankle with before-and-after photos, hoping the ankle will slim down. Pat Riley rubs hair gel on the injured joint and hits it with a velvet sack full of his championship rings, and finally Butler works out with Mark Wahlberg at 3:30 AM while they watch the “Good Vibrations” video on a loop.

Sitting at +3000, the New York Knicks are bringing up the rear. Of course, Tom Thibodeau doesn’t even understand those odds, having sworn off all vices in favor of a lifelong commitment to basketball, forsaking even the love of a woman. But with Butler hurt, the Knicks could certainly sneak past the Heat, so this is actually really good value, considering the Knicks were 3-1 against the Celtics this year, and 2-2 against the 76ers.

And if you believe in Joel Embiid’s ability to recover - we hear he’s getting platelet-rich infusions of Shirley Temples to the injured knee - +1200 is not a bad price for the 76ers. We assume he sprained his knee trying to kick Nic Claxton in the groin, so a Warriors-76ers matchup between Embiid and Draymond Green could be the perfect way to end these flagrant-foul-heavy playoffs.

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