A billionaire ban happened at the NBA Finals on Thursday, adding another “never seen that happen before” moment to basketball playoff lore. Things sure can change over the course of 48 hours, eh?
Just two days ago, folks were only talking about one of the two teams in the NBA Finals: The Golden State Warriors. It was not a matter of whether they would win, but how quickly.
Then Game 3 happened, and the Toronto Raptors are now being given the respect they deserved. Yes, they should have earned it by winning four straight games against the Milwaukee Bucks to close out the Eastern Conference Finals, but memories can be short, you know?
Anyway, the series is now virtually a pick ’em at sportsbooks. Kevin Durant has been ruled out for Game 4, but Klay Thompson is expected to return for Golden State at Oracle Arena, where minority owner Mark Stevens will not be in attendance after being banned for one year and fined $500,000 for shoving Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry. His five minutes of fame will be fleeting, but at least he taught us all to expect the unexpected when watching this series.
Along those lines, let’s have a look at what’s on the board wagering-wise as Toronto tries to go up 3-1 and then wrap this series up Sunday night at home.
Let’s start with Thompson, who sat out Game 3 because of a hamstring injury.
He suffered a left hamstring injury in the fourth quarter of Game 2, and was held out of Game 3 even after pushing the medical staff to let him play.
“My body feels really good,” Thompson said on Thursday. “And just that extra night of rest really helped, and—I just can’t wait to get out here tomorrow.”
Both DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook have Thompson’s point over/under at 17.5. Thompson has scored at least 18 points in seven of his last eight postseason games, so the low number is a testament to the doubt about whether he will be able to operate at full throttle. He scored 21 in Game 21 and 25 in Game 2, for what it is worth.
With Thompson back, it should ease some of the scoring burden on Stephen Curry, whose 47 points Wednesday night were not enough to overcome the double-figure scoring that Toronto got from all five of its starters.
Curry’s over/under is at 33.5 at both books, and it is worth noting that he has scored 34 or more in six of his past seven games after going 12 straight postseason games (against the Clippers, Rockets and Blazers) without reaching that number.
The highest point total over/under for the Raptors is Kawhi Leonard at 30.5. He has scored 31 or more in 12 of 21 playoff games.
Player props galore
Lowry, who will not have to deal with billionaires shoving him (check that, it is the Bay Area, and there is a lot of Silicon Valley venture capital money in the front row), has a point total over/under of just 15.5 — 7 1/2 points fewer than he scored in Game 3. He is 75-1 at FanDuel to get a triple-double in a Toronto win, and the highest triple-double-in-a-victory odds belong to DeMarcus Cousins at 100-1. Just to put that in perspective, Draymond Green is +550 to record a triple-double in a Golden State win. Leonard, by the way, is 95-1 to have a triple-double in a win (he did not have one this season; his high assists total was nine in Game 5 against Milwaukee.
For those who believe someone other than Curry or Leorad will be the high scorer, wagering opportunities at nice payoffs abound. Pascal Siakam is 26-1, Lowry is 95-1, Thompson is 30-1 and Cousins, Iguodala, Danny Green and Marc Gasol are all 100-1 to be the high scorer.
Good luck, and remember what we told you 48 hours ago: Do not discount the Raptors. They are one of two teams left standing, and they would not be playing for the championship if they were not damn good.