NBA Finals Odds: Should You Back the Bucks and Raptors?
Through all the storylines, legends giving it one final go, and new stars solidifying the future of the league, the 2018-19 NBA season ended up with at least one constant.
The Golden State Warriors earned the 1 seed in the Western Conference and are the betting favorites to win it all. According to FanDuel Sportsbook, the Warriors are -210 to win another NBA Finals, and no other team is particularly close.
What does our algorithm -- built on a metric called nERD, which is indicative of a team's true winning percentage -- have to say about the betting odds?
Each team's nERD score, championship probability (per our numbers), and FanDuel Sportsbook odds are below. Teams are sorted by our win probabilities.
|Golden State Warriors||68.6||40.9%||-210|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||60.7||3.4%||+4400|
|Portland Trail Blazers||58.9||2.9%||+8000|
|San Antonio Spurs||56.4||1.9%||+8000|
|Los Angeles Clippers||52.6||0.6%||+18000|
At -210, the Warriors would need to be about 60% likely to win the Finals to get on board with a bet, and our algorithm doesn't quite see it that way. So which other teams stand out as possible value bets?
Milwaukee Bucks (+600)
The Milwaukee Bucks are the top team in the NBA by nERD, so it's no surprise to see them with the 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and with an 18.2% chance to win the Finals. At +600, that gives them value. Not only that, but they start out with a matchup with the Detroit Pistons, the worst team in the NBA playoffs by nERD (47.4). The Pistons could muck things up by running the 28th-fastest pace in the NBA, but the Bucks swept the regular-season series.
Toronto Raptors (+1100)
The Raptors' efficiency (66.8 nERD) wasn't far off from Golden State's (68.6) in the regular season, which is at least something to take hold of if backing Toronto. They also turned it on down the stretch, posting a net rating of +7.2 after the All-Star break, good for third in the NBA in that span. There's definite value in both the Bucks and the Raptors, who are priced at a big discount because they aren't the Warriors. They're also the only two teams outside of Golden State with double-digit title odds.
Utah Jazz (+5500)
An algorithm special, the Utah Jazz actually rank fourth in nERD on the season at 65.2, and they have a +10.7 net rating since the break. In all, they won "just" 50 games, to get them the 5 seed and a first-round matchup with Houston (61.0 nERD). They'd have to fend off the Rockets and the Warriors in the first two rounds, but from there, things would ease up until a meeting with an Eastern Conference foe. It's tough to find long shots to back given the favorites at the top, but our algorithm sees some value on Utah.