Any team hoping to win the NBA championship this season will have to make travel plans to Oakland this spring.
The Golden State Warriors, who play their home games at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., have won two straight NBA Finals and three of the last four. The Warriors — led by former league MVPs Steph Curry and Kevin Durant — are the overwhelming favorites (-225) to make it three in a row in NBA Futures Betting (odds provided by Bovada).
The top two teams in the Eastern Conference are next on the list as the Milwaukee Bucks (+900) and Toronto Raptors (+900) share the same odds ahead of the Houston Rockets (+1000).
While the Warriors have won three titles this decade and four overall, it’s been more than 25 years since any of the top contenders have earned a championship banner.
The Rockets won back-to-back in 1993-94 and 1994-95, while the Bucks won their lone title in 1970-71. The Raptors have never won a championship in their 23-year history.
This is the 70th anniversary of the NBA playoffs after the Basketball Association of America merged with the National Basketball League in 1949.
NBA Playoff Odds Explained
The number after a plus sign in front of the posted odds is the amount of profit a bettor earns on a $100 bet. The number after a negative sign in front of the posted odds is the amount a bettor must wager to earn a $100 profit. The futures bet in this case is the winner of the NBA Finals 2019. The odds will change throughout the season, but your odds are fixed at the time of your bet.
There are three other rounds of play in the NBA playoffs before the championship final — conference quarter-finals, conference semifinals and conference finals. Bettors will be offered NBA Playoff Odds on the money line, point spread, over/under totals and prop bets on each individual playoff game, along with odds on each series winner and conference champion.
For example, the Warriors (-350) are the top betting choice in the West, while the Bucks (+190) are the favorites to win the East. A bettor would have to wager $350 on the Warriors to earn a $100 profit ($350 bet + $100 profit = $450 total return). A bettor would earn a $190 profit on a $100 bet if the Bucks can win the East ($100 bet + $190 profit = $290 total return).
The following is a brief breakdown of the top four betting favorites in the future betting:
Golden State Warriors -225
(Won NBA Finals last year) The Warriors, who currently lead the West, will likely finish the 2018-19 season with homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs. They have reached the postseason for the last six straight seasons and won three NBA titles.
Milwaukee Bucks +900
(Lost conference quarter-finals last year) The Bucks lead the East and have the best record at home, within their division and against conference rivals. They have lost in the first round of the playoffs in each of the last two seasons.
Toronto Raptors +900
(Lost conference semifinal last year) The Raptors will reach the playoffs this year for the sixth straight season. Their best effort in that stretch is a conference final loss in 2015-16.
Houston Rockets +1000
(Lost conference final last year) The Rockets will reach the playoffs this year for the seventh straight season. They have failed to get out of their conference, losing twice in the West final.
Two long shot plays — one from each conference — include the Boston Celtics (+1600), currently the No. 5 seed in the East and loaded with talent, and the San Antonio Spurs (+5500), who sit as the No. 6 seed in the West and have one of the best conference records among the playoff contenders.
NBA Playoff Format Explained
How Many Teams Make the NBA Playoffs? There are 30 teams in the league with 16 qualifying for the playoffs — eight in each conference. A team must win its conference quarter-final, semifinal and final to reach the NBA championship final.
How Many Victories Does a Team Need to Win the Championship? 16. A team must win four best-of-seven series to be declared the best team in the league.
How Does the Seeding Work in Each Conference? Playoff rules were changed in 2007 such that the division winners are now only guaranteed a top-four seed. The team with the second-best record in the conference is now guaranteed the second seed, even if it finishes second in its own division. This ensures that the two best teams in the conference will not meet until the conference finals at the earliest.
The No. 1 seed meets No. 8 in the first round. No. 2 squares off against No. 7, No. 3 plays No. 6 and No. 4 battles No. 5. The winner of No. 1-8 meets the winner of No. 4-5 in the conference semifinals, while the winner of No. 2-7 plays the winner of No. 3-6. The winners advance to the conference finals.
All series are a best-of-seven format, with the better seed receiving an extra home game.
NBA Playoff Predictions
The Western Conference representative has won 13 (65%) of the last 20 NBA Finals. The dominance is expected to continue this year with Golden State the overwhelming favorite from the West.
Let’s take a look at the two conference finals and NBA Championship and make a prediction for each series (odds posted after selected winner provided by Bovada):
Eastern Conference Champions
The Bucks have one of the best players in the league in Giannis Antetokounmpo, but they recently lost point guard Malcolm Brogdon to a foot injury. The Greek Freak is unstoppable, but he can’t do it all on his own. The Raptors have been knocking on the doors to the league finals for years. It’s time for Kawhi Leonard and Co. to reach the Promised Land.
Pick — Toronto (+195)
Western Conference Champions
The Warriors have won the last four conference finals in the West. The Rockets had them on the ropes last season, with the seventh and deciding game in Houston. Golden State won that game and then swept the league championship. The only thing that stops the Warriors this year is the Warriors.
Pick — Golden State (-350)
2018-19 NBA Champions
The Raptors reach their first ever NBA Finals, while the Warriors seem to make this an annual event. Golden State swept the league final last year for the first time since 2007. It could happen again, even though the Raptors swept the two-game season series this year against the Warriors. Golden State and its superstars make it three championships in a row. The bigger question is where does Kevin Durant land as a free agent in the offseason?
Pick — Golden State (-225)
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