After the Toronto Raptors fell behind the Milwaukee Bucks 2-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals of the NBA Playoffs, few expected to see a Raptors-Golden State Warriors showdown to determine the league champion.
That surprising showcase begins Thursday night north of the border (which Boston’s basketball fans will be watching on ABC at 9 p.m. ET).
Betting on the series price in Raptors-Warriors has been surprisingly active in Las Vegas…
- The Westgate in Las Vegas was up quickly with Golden State at -275 to advance (risk $275 to win $100, or anything in that ratio), and a price of plus 225 on Toronto to spring the upset (risk $100 to win $225). Earlier during the Eastern finals, it was anticipated that Golden State would be closer to -400, Toronto plus 300. Nevada is “Warriors country” because of its proximity to California. And, many casual bettors prefer betting on the superior team rather than white-knuckling an underdog play. When pricing, oddsmakers had to weigh those dynamics against the improved form of Toronto during its four-win tear.
- Warriors money jumped in very quickly at -275, causing a surge to -310 from the Westgate in hopes of discouraging a gold rush. Toronto rose to plus 250.
- Sharp dog lovers pounced on the Raptors at that price, bringing the Westgate back to -300/plus 240. There was plenty of variance in Las Vegas and offshore, which gave investors an opportunity to shop for the best possible price.
If you split the difference with -300/plus 240, that represents Golden State claiming the Larry O’Brien trophy about 73% of the time, Toronto 27%.
Why would some sharps bet Golden State at -275 or better? Experience. Depth (the Warriors just swept Portland without Kevin Durant, and he might be able to return). Extra gears when needed on both sides of the floor. Quants in particular have noticed that Golden State is comfortable at fast or slow paces.
Why would some sharps bet Toronto at plus 250? It wouldn’t be a “prediction” that Toronto was going to win, but an assessment that plus 250 wasn’t giving the Raptors enough credit for upset potential. If you believe Golden State should only be 67% to 33% to win the series (or tighter), then Toronto is clearly a value bet at plus 250 or more.
Thursday’s series opener will probably close near pick-em. Golden State opened at -1. That was bet to Toronto -1. Game day interest in Nevada will likely weigh toward the Warriors.