You don’t want to spell “smash” with “M*A*S*H.”
With one half of the smash brothers sidelined due to a strained hamstring, the status of injured superstar Kevin Durant still up in the air, and the certainty that post presence Kevon Looney had been lost for the playoffs, the badly hobbled Golden State Warriors were run off the floor by the Toronto Raptors Wednesday night in Game 3 of the NBA Finals.
Toronto (plus 2.5 after a late surge of sharp and square money hit the board when Klay Thompson was ruled “out”) coasted to a 123-109 rout, scoring those points with only 82 shots from the floor. The Raptors nailed 17 of 38 three-pointers (44.7%, same as 67.1% on two-pointers) and added 20 of 21 on free throws.
For Friday’s quick turnaround (ABC, 9 p.m. ET), oddsmakers opened late Wednesday night at a soft line of Golden State -5 or -5.5 with low limits. That basically splits the difference between . . .
- Sticking near -3 if both Durant and Thompson aren’t able to come back. Despite Wednesday’s loss, the short-handed Warriors in a must-win situation would likely drive action at this price from zig-zag bettors.
- Surging to as high as -8 if both were somehow able to return at 100%, buoyed by team bounce-back intangibles against a visiting opponent that just shot over its head from the field.
It’s safe to assume that the public wants to bet the two-time defending World Champions with their backs to the wall. Even squares won’t lay a lot of points with the roster that flailed so badly in Game 3.
What should bettors do regarding the series price? How could anyone even confidently calculate a series price?
Frankly, you can’t. You can estimate various scenarios. But, you can’t know for sure which scenario is going to play out until Durant’s destiny is determined.
We know that Toronto currently leads the series two games to one after regaining home-court advantage with Wednesday’s service break . . .
- If Thompson and Durant are full strength, the Warriors would probably be at least 75% to win their two remaining home games…and near 50/50 to win the last two road games (maybe it’s 52/48 their way if Durant is all the way back). That’s enough to even up the math.
- If both are out for the series, and Golden State is trying to keep that a secret for as long as they can, Toronto is a prohibitive favorite to win the Larry O’Brien trophy. The Raptors would be at least 60% to win their home games possibly 65%. They would certainly have a good chance to win at least one more in Oakland.
Reality is likely between those extremes. Advantage Toronto. Still far from game, set and match.
For now, the task at hand for smart bettors is waiting to get an accurate diagnosis on Durant. Anyone seen Hawkeye or Trapper John?