With a league-leading 67 wins, last year’s NBA championship runners-up the Golden State Warriors take most-favored team status for the 2016-17 NBA playoffs, which begin Saturday.
A quick survey of articles and odds found on the Web put the Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs in elite territory in the drive for the Larry O'Brien NBA Championship Trophy. The Cavs won last year’s title in an epic rally from three games down against Golden State, which had put Cleveland away in six games in 2015.
Ben Fawkes at ESPN.com writes that the Warriors are rated 1-2 favorites to win another NBA championship by the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. “No other team is particularly close.”
The Cavs (7-2) and the Spurs (9-1) follow Golden State. The next best odds are 20-1.
The Warriors are, of course, also picked as favorites to win the Western Conference, followed by San Antonio. The Cavs are the favorite in the East, despite trailing the Boston Celtics in the regular season standings.
Sporting News reported similar odds on Thursday night: the Warriors (5-11 odds, or bet $11 to win $5 for a payout of $16), Cavs (19-5) and Spurs (9-1) make up the top tier.
If you’re into longshots, the Memphis Grizzlies (250-1) and the Portland Trail Blazers (300-1) make up the bottom two.
Mashable’s Sam Laird sees a potential scheduling conflict for the Warriors - Blazers series as perhaps an indicator of the difference in respect from top to bottom. If the Warriors don’t sweep the Trail Blazers, Game 5 is scheduled for the same night as a Chance the Rapper concert in Oracle Arena in Oakland.
However, Laird writes that “Chances — ahem, no pun intended — are that someone in the NBA scheduling office just made a little mistake” and that he expects a workaround.