|Kawhi Leonard to win Finals MVP||11/4||Ladbrokes|
|Golden State Warriors to win series 4-2||9/4||Betfair|
|Golden State Warriors to come from behind and win series||7/4||Bet365|
Excitement has reached fever-pitch in a traditionally hockey-mad city, as Steph Curry and Golden State’s arsenal of superstars jet in for Game 1 in the best-of-seven series this Thursday night.
Steve Kerr’s Warriors are 1/3 with Coral to claim an historic ‘threepeat’, but the Raptors, who traditionally flatter to deceive in the regular season, have carried their stunning form into the playoffs this time around. Led by the superhuman talents of 2014 Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, they can not be counted out.
Outright NBA Finals Odds
The Golden State Warriors are rightly heavy favourites to take the series and deliver a fourth title in five years in the process. However, their 1/3 price with most of the best bookmakers is not likely to tempt too many punters.
Their route to the showpiece has not been plain sailing, but there haven’t been too many blips along the way either. The Los Angeles Clippers provided plucky first-round opposition but were eventually beaten 4-2. Then came what many felt would be their greatest test, in the form of scoring machine James Harden and his Houston Rockets. Again, the Warriors finished off the series with a game to spare.
Previous NBA Finals Winners
|Golden State Warriors||4-0||Cleveland Cavaliers||2018|
|Golden State Warriors||4-1||Cleveland Cavaliers||2017|
|Cleveland Cavaliers||4-3||Golden State Warriors||2016|
|Golden State Warriors||4-2||Cleveland Cavaliers||2015|
|San Antonio Spurs||4-1||Miami Heat||2014|
|Miami Heat||4-3||San Antonio Spurs||2013|
In the Western Conference Finals, the Warriors swept the Portland Trail Blazers 4-0 without the freakish talents of Kevin Durant, who has been sidelined with an injury since Game 5 against the Rockets. In his absence, Steph Curry has returned to scintillating form, and is the bookies’ favourite to win Finals MVP, priced at 8/11 with Bet365.
Punters who fancy Toronto to shock the basketball world can get odds of 5/2 with BetVictor. Those who opt for Nick Nurse’s charges will be heartened by the fact that they will have home advantage if these finals go all the way to a deciding Game 7.
If the Raptors are to upset the champs, they must keep up the defensive intensity that saw them limit the normally prolific Bucks to 94 points in Saturday’s come-from-behind Game 6 win.
NBA fans will recall the tough, physical approach that LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers adopted against Golden State in 2016, which delivered a title in dramatic style. If the Raptors can keep up their defensive intensity, they do have a real fighting chance.
Will Kevin Durant's Return Be the Decisive Factor?
Durant has travelled to Toronto, where the first two games of this series will be held, but has been ruled out for Game 1.
Many pundits feel a seven-game series between these two sides will only go right down to the wire if Durant remains out of action for a few more games.
KD’s ability to put up points guarantees nightmares for any defence. But there is a school of thought that suggests the Warriors are actually a more fluid offensive unit in his absence.
That being said, Bet365’s price of 12/1 for Durant to take home the Finals MVP award is slightly tempting. It’s easy to envision a scenario where the Raptors take Game 1 at home, and possibly Game 2 as well before Durant returns to the fray and leads the Warriors to glory.
Can Kawhi Leonard Keep up His Superhuman Form?
Leonard has been there and done that in the finals, but never before has he produced a playoffs run like this. In his first year (and what could well end up being his only year) with the Raptors, Leonard has possibly proven himself as the league’s top player.
Despite battling injury, the robotic, ice-cool two-way star is the man standing between the Warriors and yet another title. He is averaging an incredible 31.2 points per game and is as reliable on the defensive end as he is scoring the basketball.
Leonard has provided the most memorable moments of the post-season. There was the buzzer-beating jump-shot which bounced around the rim before breaking Philadelphia hearts in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals, and a thunderous slam-dunk over Bucks talisman Giannis Antetokounmpo last Saturday night.
He is 5/4 to finish the finals as top scorer, with Ladbrokes going 11/4 for him to claim his second MVP award.
2019 NBA Finals Recommended Bets
The Raptors are in with a shout, and if they do win it, Leonard will almost certainly be Finals MVP. What he has done in this playoffs is Michael Jordan-esque. The 27-year-old is in the form of his life and relishes the biggest occasions, as he proved on this stage five years ago. I’m taking Leonard at 11/4 with Ladbrokes to win Finals MVP.
While the Raptors do have a fighting chance, Golden State are such heavy favourites for a reason. They are well rested after their sweep of the Trail Blazers and can welcome back DeMarcus Cousins, as well as Durant, at some stage during the series. They are likely to wrap this up without needing an away win in Game 7. I fancy them to steal one away game and finish things with a home-court victory in Game 6, giving them a 4-2 series win. This can be backed at 9/4 with Betfair on the series correct score market.
The Raptors and their fans are on a high, and they’ve turned Scotiabank Arena into an intimidating fortress. I expect them to ride the wave of momentum and deliver a home victory against a Durant-less Warriors this Thursday. When KD returns, their chances diminish hugely, so taking the Warriors to come from behind to win the NBA Championship, at a price of 7/4 with Bet365 is a smart bet.