Are the Spurs the West’s Top Team?

kawhi-leonard-spursEver since the Golden State Warriors signed Kevin Durant in the offseason, they’ve been heavily favored by many experts and online sportsbooks to win the title. In fact, we at GTBets currently have their NBA championship odds at -175, and Western Conference odds at -240.

But Durant’s absence (MCL sprain) from the lineup is having a greater impact on the team than anybody could’ve expected. The Warriors did hold a 4.5-game lead over the San Antonio Spurs two weeks ago. Today, that lead is down to just half a game.

At 52-14, Golden State still has a slight edge with 16 games left in the regular season. But the Spurs (51-14), who’ve won 10 of their last 11 games, are now a serious threat to take home court advantage for the entire 2017 NBA Playoffs.

During their last 11-game stretch, they’ve managed to knock off the L.A. Clippers, Houston Rockets, and Golden State. We won’t put too much stock in the last one because the Warriors rested their starters. But then again, Kawhi Leonard sat out (concussion protocol) and San Antonio still eased their way to a 107-85 victory.

Right now, we have the Spurs at +600 to win the title, and +310 to win the West. These odds seemed correct a couple of weeks ago, with Golden State still dominating the league. But one has to think that San Antonio has gained some value with their latest win streak.

Let’s look at some thoughts on why the Spurs could win the title:

1. Kahwai Leonard is a legitimate MVP candidate with 26.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.9 steals per game. He’s also a clutch player who can win games on the offensive and defensive ends.

gregg-popovich-lebron2. They have the game’s best and most-experienced coach in Gregg Popovich.

3. They’ve played a half game less than Golden State, meaning they can easily make up the 0.5 deficit.

4. San Antonio has had the best team culture for years.

5. They have one more head-to-head contest with the Warriors (Mar. 29).

6. Golden State has a difficult remaining schedule, which includes the following playoff teams: at Oklahoma City Thunder (Mar. 20), Memphis Grizzlies (Mar. 26), at Houston Rockets (Mar. 28), Houston (Mar. 31), Washington Wizards (Apr. 2), and the Utah Jazz (Apr. 10).

The 5-game stretch where they face Memphis, Houston (twice), San Antonio, and Washington within a week’s time will be especially difficult, with Durant still expected to be out then. If Golden State doesn’t at least go 3-2 during this stretch and beat San Antonio, we could have a surprise Western Conference champion.

One more point worth making here is that we don’t know if/when Golden State can snap out of their funk while Durant sits over the next few weeks.

lamarcus-aldridge-spurs-1We don’t want to make this one-sided, though, because San Antonio faces struggles of their own. First off, LaMarcus Aldridge is out with minor heart arrythmia. He could only miss a few games, or he could miss the entire season – it’s an unpredictable condition.

Another tough factor for the Spurs is their schedule, which isn’t any better than Golden State’s. They face the following playoff squads: Atlanta (Mar. 13), at Memphis (Mar. 18), Memphis (Mar. 23), Cleveland Cavaliers (Mar. 27), at Oklahoma City (Mar. 31), Utah (Apr. 2), Memphis (Apr. 4), Los Angeles Clippers (Apr. 8), and at Utah (Apr. 12).

Memphis is always a difficult team to play due to their defensive prowess, and San Antonio must face them three times to close out the year. They lost 89-74 to the Grizzlies on Feb. 9 in their only meeting thus far. They also have another contest remaining against Golden State, and a home date with the Cavaliers – their two closest rivals for the 2017 NBA championship.

Nevertheless, the fact that San Antonio even has a chance to grab the West’s top seed at all is surprising. This is especially the case when considering that they’re playing well right now, while the Warriors are struggling. Assuming they can get Aldridge back soon, they might even have the inside track at the No. 1 seed.

Of course, we’re not saying that the Spurs are suddenly favorites to win the title. As long as Durant returns before the playoffs with no complications, he’d have the first and second round to get tuned up and help his team make a run to the conference finals.

But if San Antonio can gain home-court advantage, then their chances of knocking off the Warriors definitely improve.

2015 NBA Championship Odds to Win

stephen-curryIt took until the final day of the regular season to decide, but the NBA Playoffs are finally set. And this means that 2015 NBA Championships odds are now available too. Assuming you’re looking to place a bet on which team has the best chance to win it all, you can visit the homepage and place your wager(s). Here’s a look at available odds (as of Apr. 17) for all 16 teams:

Golden State 9 to 5
Cleveland 11 to 5
San Antonio 4 to 1
Atlanta 17 to 2
Chicago 15 to 1
LA Clippers 18 to 1
Houston 22 to 1
Memphis 22 to 1
Dallas 50 to 1
Portland 60 to 1
Toronto 70 to 1
Washington 75 to 1
New Orleans 150 to 1
Boston 160 to 1
Milwaukee 160 to 1
Brooklyn 225 to 1

Quick Analysis

It’s no surprise that the Golden State Warriors carry the best odds of winning at our online sportsbook. After all, they won 67 games and finished 11 games ahead of every other team in the ridiculously brutal Western Conference. Plus, Golden State features Steph Curry, the 2015 MVP favorite who recently made more waves for making 77 straight three-pointers in practice.

lebron-james-bench-1One team that may or may not be a surprise – depending upon your viewpoint – is the Cleveland Cavaliers (11 to 5 odds). The Cavs became a preseason favorite to win the title when they added LeBron James and Kevin Love in the summer. However, they struggled throughout the first half of the season, sitting at 19-20 at one point. But LeBron helped rally the Cavs and they went 34-9 over the rest of the season and grabbed the East’s No. 2 seed.

It may be hard for some to take the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs at 4 to 1 odds. The Spurs were in a seesaw battle for the West’s No. 2 seed. Unfortunately, they lost their final game to New Orleans (who got into the playoffs due to this win), which dropped San Antonio all the way down to the No. 6 seed. That said, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan have a very difficult road ahead of them to win another title.

The Atlanta Hawks may be offering the best value right now at 17 to 2 odds. After all, they finished with the league’s second-best record at 60-22, and also earned the top seed in the Eastern Conference. And, sure, the Cavs are the hot pick to win the East right now. But don’t sleep on Atlanta with their home-court advantage and balanced team that’s led by point guard Jeff Teague.

joakim-noahThe Chicago Bulls carry the fifth-best odds of winning the championship at 15 to 1. It’s arguable if Chicago is the fifth-most talented team in the playoffs, at least when considering all of the injury problems that they’ve had so far. But they do have a chance to win the East if they can beat Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

The Toronto Raptors (70 to 1 odds) and Washington Wizards (75 to 1 odds) are two darkhorse teams that are looking to emerge from the Eastern Conference. However, their road to the title begins by facing each other in a series that may be too close to call right now.

Moving to the rest of the pack in the Western Conference, it’s a complete jumble. The Houston Rockets (22 to 1 odds) were able to grab the No. 2 seed on the last day of the regular season. But it seems that they’ll have to battle every step of the way, even in their first-round series against the Dallas Mavericks (50 to 1 odds).

The Memphis Grizzlies also have solid odds to win at 22 to 1, despite the fact that they open up the playoffs on the road against the Portland Trailblazers (60 to 1). Portland was able to gain first-round home-court advantage due to their Northwest Division title. However, they finished 51-31, which was actually only the sixth-best record in the West.

As you can see, there are certainly some very interesting matchups in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. And once the smoke clears from the opening round, we’ll be eight teams closer to deciding a champion this year.