When Tom Hanks’ plane was going down at the start of Castaway, there was a split second where I thought to myself, “oh man, I hope he survives!” Then I remembered that the entire movie is about him being stranded on a deserted island. He couldn’t perish in the first ten minutes.
I felt dumb.
If you doubted the Cavs after Game 3 against the Celtics, you probably feel the same way, because the script for the 2017 NBA Finals was written ages ago. I can’t tell you how the series ends, but I can tell you how it starts: with the Cavs and Warriors going toe-to-toe in their third straight title bout. Technically, the Celtics haven’t been killed off just yet. But the first three rounds of the playoffs are just a prelude, a time for you to enjoy some quality acting, slam a 24 oz. soda, and empty your bladder before the real action begins.
Wait, did I say I can’t tell you how the finals will end? That’s not entirely true. I’ve seen enough redemption stories in my life. I have a pretty good idea what’s in store for the rising action and climax as the Warriors try to avenge last year’s colossal collapse. Below, I’ll let you in on the leaked script with some odds and props.
And if you’re looking to bet on any NBA Finals props, just consult this handy list of the best betting sites we’ve created.
2017 NBA Finals Odds
All props pertain to the 2017 NBA Finals unless otherwise specified.
Odds to win the 2017 NBA title
Celtics: 0 grams
Did you know that companies can list trans-fat content as “zero” if a product contains less than 0.5 grams per serving? Apply that, mutatis mutandis, to the Celtics.
A lot of people are going to call me an idiot for having a LeBron James team at just 33-percent to win a best-of-seven series. An equal number are going to call me an idiot for having the Warriors at just 67-percent. That’s how you know these numbers are right.
The Warriors have gotten some breaks in the first few acts, none bigger than Kawhi Leonard’s injury in the conference finals. But they’ve still won 12 straight games against playoff-caliber competition … and Klay Thompson isn’t even playing well. They have the best offensive efficiency numbers in the league (113.2) and, to the surprise of many, the second-best defensive efficiency numbers (101.1).
The way they rain triples, the Cavs can score with anyone (110.9 offensive efficiency). But they’re garbage at the other end of the floor most nights (108.0 defensive efficiency).
Odds the Warriors sweep the Cavaliers (and go 16-0 in the playoffs): 7/1
Odds the Cavaliers sweep the Warriors: 50/1
Odds the NBA Finals goes …
4 games: 23/4
5 games: 7/2
6 games: 8/5
7 games: 3/1
If the Warriors hold serve at home and then split on the road, they’ll have a chance to seal it up in Game 5. But it’s more likely that this series goes at least six. The Cavs only dropped one game at home in last year’s playoffs, and one more this year after going 31-10 in the regular season. Shooting threes — which the Cavs do a lot — is always easier in familiar, friendly surroundings.
Odds to win MVP (Bill Russell Award)
Steph Curry: 11/4
Kevin Durant: 11/4
LeBron James: 3/1
Draymond Green: 10/1
Kyrie Irving: 15/1
Klay Thompson: 20/1
Kevin Love: 55/1
Curry (28.6 PPG) and Durant (25.2 PPG) are sharing the scoring load for the Dubs. They’ll likely do the same in the finals. That will make the secondary parts of their respective games vital to the MVP discussion. If Durant is a beast on the glass, he should get the nod … unless Curry starts dropping dimes like it’s 2013.
On the Cleveland side, one thing feels like an absolute certainty: they’re not winning this series unless LeBron (32.3 PPG) goes all-world again. He averaged nearly 30 points, nine assists, and over 11 boards when he carried his team to the title last year. Kyrie is capable of massive nights (see 41 points against Boston in Game 4) but the Cavs are going to be on the losing end if he’s their best player.
Odds to have highest scoring game in the series
LeBron James: 5/2
Steph Curry: 7/2
Kevin Durant: 4/1
Kyrie Irving: 11/2
Klay Thompson: 10/1
Kevin Love: 40/1
All of these guys have the potential to go off, but LeBron is the only player left in the postseason who’s averaging over 30 per game. While Curry and Durant can split the load for Golden State, James knows he’ll have to score at a steady clip in order for the Cavs’ offense to keep up.
Odds to make the most 3-pointers in the series
Steph Curry: 3/2
Kyrie Irving: 13/2
Klay Thompson: 13/2
Kevin Love: 11/1
LeBron James: 11/1
Kyle Korver: 15/1
JR Smith: 15/1
Curry has hit 15 more triples than anyone else in the playoffs. He hit 56 more than anyone else in the regular season. Can you say “prohibitive favorite?” Playoff series are comparatively short, of course; other guys can heat up and out-three Curry over a small sample size.
Thompson hasn’t been connecting at his usual clip (36%, down from 41.4% in the regular season) and he’s taking fewer attempts because of it. But as the Cavs’ defense keys on Curry, there should be chances for Klay to get himself going. He hit the second-most threes in the regular season (264), trailing only Steph.
Korver is one of the best three-point shooters in the league. But he’s seen his minutes decline with Cleveland and he’s only launching four per game in the playoffs. Steph’s jacking ten per game and connecting at a higher rate (43.1% versus 40.8%).
Irving’s chances rely on volume. He’s averaging seven attempts per game, which leads the Cavs, but only hitting at 34% (down from 40% in the regular season). James has bettered his percentage from the regular season (40.6% versus 36.3%) but isn’t a high-volume three-point shooter (5.8 attempts per game in the playoffs).
Over/Under most 3-pointers by one player in a single game: 6.5
Seven threes is a lot, especially in games of this magnitude. Curry has hit seven twice this playoffs and knocked down seven in Game 4 of last year’s finals.
Love, meanwhile, hit seven in Game 3 against Boston.
Odds the Warriors score over 100 points in every NBA Finals game: 4/9
Six: that’s how many times the Warriors were held under 100 in the regular season, a season which saw Kevin Durant miss a significant chunk of time. Two of those games came against the Spurs and Jazz, arguably the best defenses in the league.
The Cavs just gave up 111 points to a Celtics team that didn’t have Isaiah Thomas.
Over/Under average margin of victory in the series: 8.5 PPG
This playoffs has been severely lacking in close finishes. Only one game in last year’s finals (Game 7) was a single-digit affair. The average margin of victory was a whopping 17.4. This year shouldn’t be quite that lopsided from game to game, but with offenses this potent, we’ll still see some big gaps.
Odds to get the first technical foul in the series
Draymond Green: 2/1
Kevin Durant: 4/1
Tristan Thompson: 5/1
LeBron James: 11/2
David West: 11/1
Matt Barnes: 12/1
JaVale McGee: 12/1
Zaza Pachulia: 18/1
Tyronn Lue: 50/1
Mike Brown: 75/1
Draymond had 14 in the regular season, which leads the remaining players, and another two in the postseason. He’s toned it down versus the 2016 playoffs, when he had five, but he’s still the most likely to go off on the refs or kick someone in the … how should I put this … testicles.
Somehow Cleveland’s Dahntay Jones (2.5 minutes per game) is the only other player with multiple techs in the playoffs.
KD had ten in the regular season and will obviously have the necessary floor time to put him near the top of the list. Tristan Thompson (six regular season techs; 33.3 MPG) is another good bet. David West (eight), Matt Barnes (seven), and JaVale McGee (six) won’t see the floor enough.
Zaza is a lightning rod for criticism after his dangerous close-out led to Kawhi Leanord’s ankle injury, but he’s more likely to get the first flagrant than the first tech. (He had three of each in the regular season.)
Let's have fun and keep it civil.