Why so much sharp interest in the potentially demoralized underdog?
The NBA Finals resume Thursday night in Oakland (ABC, 9 p.m. ET). With Kevin Durant definitely out, oddsmakers first put Golden State on the board at -3.5. Sharps bet Toronto with the hook -- and many kept betting the Raptors when global sportsbooks dropped to -3. We may see a closer below 3 depending on game-day action.
While Toronto may still be suffering shellshock, it has established superiority when Durant is in street clothes. And Golden State’s extended series life was the result of a massive 20-8 edge in made 3-pointers Monday (on 47.6% to 25%). That will be very tough to replicate. Toronto had made six more treys in the series through the first five games.
If you accept the premise that scoring “inside the arc” is the most reliable and consistent offensive skill set, Toronto grades out as more likely to control its destiny. Here are “final scores” from this series if you throw out 3-pointers:
Series Scoring on 1’s and 2’s
G1: Toronto 79, Golden State 73
G2: Toronto 71, Golden State 70
G3: Golden State 73, Toronto 72
G4: Toronto 75, Golden State 68
G5: Toronto 84, Golden State 46
Sharps will take at least three points with that backdrop, as they assume trey production will regress back to series norms.
Toronto is still a hefty -300 to win the title (risk $300 to win $100, or anything in that ratio). The market isn’t yet anticipating any sort of “choke job of the century.” The Raptors have two chances to win one game. They will likely be at least 3-point home favorites in a seventh game if needed. Golden State is plus 240 to rally all the way back (risk $100 to win $240, etc.).
Let’s see if Game 6 gives bettors and fans something to shout about.