By adding Kevin Durant last summer, the Golden State Warriors seemed destined to become the definition of a superteam. In about a month, we will know if that’s true or false.
To qualify as a superteam, the Warriors obviously must win the NBA championship. If they sweep their way through the postseason, etch it in stone. But that’s much easier said than done. Will it be done?
South Point sports book director Chris Andrews posed the question in a proposition bet: Will Golden State go 16-0 during the playoffs? The “No” side is favored at minus-1,100, with “Yes” returning plus-700.
“The Warriors are beatable,” said Vinny Magliulo, VSiN oddsmaker and Gaughan Gaming sports book director. “They are the favorites, there’s no question about it, but they can lose.”
During their 8-0 postseason run, the Warriors have posted an average winning margin of 16.5 points. But as Magliulo emphasized, Golden State’s first two opponents — Portland and Utah — were not exactly extraordinary. San Antonio and, presumably, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are in a much higher class.
Now it starts to get serious. The Warriors open the Western Conference finals on Sunday as heavy favorites over the Spurs, who can be counted on to put up a respectable fight.
VSiN host Brent Musburger expects it. Musburger confidently said he would lay the 11-1 price against the Warriors going 16-0.
“The Spurs will beat them,” Musburger said. “For sure one time, and shade it to two.”
Kawhi Leonard’s status was cleared up by San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich, who said Leonard was a full participant in Saturday’s practice and will go in Game 1. The line dropped from 10½ to 10.
Leonard, who injured his left ankle in Game 5 of the West semifinals against Houston, is averaging 27.8 points and 7.7 rebounds in the playoffs. Without Leonard, the Spurs closed out the Rockets with a stunning 39-point win in Game 6.
Rockets star James Harden celebrated his disgraceful performance in the loss with a postgame party at a nightclub. Harden proved to be an easy out. The Warriors are about as tough to fend off as the Hell’s Angels. Leonard’s defensive presence will be required if the Spurs plan to contain Durant, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
As for the prop that was posted Friday, Andrews said the biggest bet to show by Saturday was for $5,500 to win $500 against Golden State going 16-0. An assortment of small wagers surfaced on the “Yes” side.
“The wiseguys might come in to lay the 11-1 and think it’s a bargain,” Andrews said.
Andrews and Magliulo talked about putting up a prop on the Warriors’ number of playoff losses, with the likely line at 2½ (Over minus-150).
“How many games could the Warriors lose? I think 2½ is a good number,” Magliulo said. “We don’t want to make it 3 because it could be a push.”
Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls won six NBA championships in the 1990s, but they lost exactly two Finals games in their last five championship years. In 1991, the Bulls went 15-2 in the playoffs with a pair of two-point losses, one in the Finals.
History indicates postseason perfection is nearly impossible to achieve. There have been only two Finals sweeps in the past 21 years.