With the way the Milwaukee Bucks have been beating up on the Toronto Raptors, one would think that Kawhi Leonard’s current team has the longest odds to win the NBA championship.
The Raptors are 20-1 on DraftKings Sportsbook as of Saturday, whereas the Trail Blazers are all the way back to 50-1 — despite the fact that Kevin Durant’s injury is going to keep him sidelined a lot longer than originally expected. Durant “likely will miss” the series against the Blazers, according to Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area.
Five times in NBA history a team has come back from an 0-2 deficit to win a series, most recently last season when the Celtics stomped on the Cleveland Cavaliers by a combined 38 points in the first two games but then lost Game 3 by 30. Here are some of the lines that LeBron James put together to make that comeback happen:
- Game 4: 44 points (17-28 FG), five rebounds and three assists.
- Game 6: 46 points (17-33 FG), 11 rebounds, nine assists and three steals.
- Game 7: 35 points (12-24 FG), 15 rebounds, nine assists and two blocks.
The Blazers do not have anyone as prolific of a performer as James, but Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum are no slouches, and the Blazers are favored by 2.5 points for Saturday’s 9 p.m. EDT start on ESPN. One thing for certain: They will not be 50-1 to win the title if they take Game 3. (FanDuel has them at 45-1).
Other teams to come back from 0-2 deficits were the 2012 Oklahoma City Thunder, were were down 0-2 against San Antonio but won the next four; the 2007 Cleveland Cavaliers, who got a Game 6 masterpiece from James in which he scored their final 25 points in an overtime thriller to close out the series; the 1993 Chicago Bulls against the New York Knicks (anybody remember the Charles Smith sequence at the end?); and the 1971 Baltimore Bullets against the Knicks when Earl Monroe had not yet been traded to New York.
So when the talking heads on ESPN tell you this one is over, take it with a grain of salt. They get paid by the decibel, but just because they are yelling at you does not mean they are coming at you with any actual expertise. Take it from someone who once worked there: The more phony you are on TV, the longer you will stay employed there. If you are genuine and keep it real (see Marc Stein, Jemele Hill, et al), you get tossed overboard.
Books getting creative with offseason odds
Most of the NBA coverage on TV these days centers around teams not in the playoffs, and the sportsbooks have taken notice. Pelicans owner Gayle Benson went on New Orleans radio Friday and said the remark reported by ESPN that she would allow a trade of Anthony Davis to the Lakers “over my dead body” was “totally absurd” and “completely untrue” — a reminder to take what you hear on the WWL with a grain of salt.
That being said, speculation about Davis’ future is so rampant that there is action available on the championship odds for teams believed to be involved in the hunt.
- The New York Knicks are +350 to win the championship if Davis, Durant and Kyrie Irving are on their roster, and 8-1 if they have Durant and Irving.
- The Brooklyn Nets are 18-1 to win the title if Kevin Durant is on their roster
- The LA Clippers are 12-1 to win the title if Kawhi Leonard is on the roster
- The LA Lakers are 6-1 to win the title if Kyrie teams up again with James.
One more prop bet for those who believe in drama: If both the Raptors-Bucks series and the Blazers-Warriors series, the odds are 14-1 that either game will go to overtime.