The 2017 NBA Futures have been shifting ever so slightly over the last few weeks, but one thing has remained the same: the oddsmakers are fixated on the idea of a Warriors-Cavs rematch. Are there any other plays to make here? Of course there are. It's the NBA playoffs and as a future Hall of Famer once said, "anything is possible".
Let's make no mistake about this conference. There's really only one threat in the East even after dropping the first at home, and it's the Toronto Raptors at +1000. They're facing an uphill climb according to the oddsmakers who've set our 2017 NBA futures because the Cleveland Cavaliers remain a heavy favorite at -300 to repeat.
But if you've been watching the NBA (as you should), then you know something is off about Cleveland. It could be overall fatigue from two extended seasons in a row. However, we know that when they want to, LeBron and Kyrie can flip that proverbial switch at any time.
Toronto is probably the best equipped to handle them overall. DeMar DeRozan is an often forgotten superstar who can erupt for 30+ and Kyle Lowry has returned faster than expected and looks great. Along with mid-season acquisitions like Serge IBaka and PJ Tucker, they have the size to really deal with the brutish strength of the Cavaliers. You have to outrebound the Cavs and Toronto can at least match them.
This is where the Boston Celtics fall short long-term in my opinion. After losing the first two games of the series vs Chicago at home, the Celtics have found themselves as +2000 dogs and in an ugly hole. You just can't bet on them at this point.
For my money, however, I still prefer Cleveland and Toronto in a much more even rematch of last year's Eastern Conference Finals.
The usual suspect fill the 2017 NBA futures board on the western side of things. At the top are the Golden State Warriors at -400 after getting a 1-0 headstart against the Trail Blazers, and there's just not enough space to cover why you should be backing them here. They're not as complete as they were last year but the sheer scoring capability of this team is astronomical.
Challenging them are some really interesting takes, and there's perhaps no team more intriguing than the Houston Rockets. Mike D'Antoni has gotten the most out of them, and they just have the feeling of a team that's much different than playoff iterations of this team from the past. I like them at +900.
The most logical upset play in the West remains the San Antonio Spurs at +350 because of their willingness to play defence and the one-sided beatings they've put on Memphis in the first round. Their understated scoring is massive. You can believe - and invest - in Gregg Popovich.
As for the rest, there's just not much to love in terms of long plays. Memphis is opn their way out. The Clippers can't seem but to fall short in the playoffs, not matter how good of a start that get off to. Oklahoma City and Portland are one-trick ponies and those are routinely led to slaughter in the NBA playoffs. I have no inkling to back the Utah Jazz either.
At the end of the day, betting against a team that's as well-rounded as Golden State seems foolish. There's always a chance for an upset, but you need to have a player like LeBron James. No team in the Western Conference has a weapon like that outside of Golden State, who went out of their way to acquire Durant this past summer.
Golden State is the pick here even at -400. If you're going to get frisky with anyone, it's the San Antonio Spurs with +350 second choice odds.
Now that you know which teams I like for the conference finals, it's easy to suss out which teams I'm going to lean towards for the NBA Finals. Listen, Golden State and Cleveland deserve heavy mention here because the 2017 NBA futures favors them for a reason. But neither has looked as invincible as they did last year, and the surrounding threats have only gotten better.
Cleveland is +300 while Golden State is the favorite to win it all at -225. That's fine. Hammer those bets if you feel like it.
As for the next in line, I would still take the Toronto Raptors at a chip shot with +4500 odds while putting a moderate play behind the Spurs with +650 odds. The hedge play is either with Golden State or Cleveland, and I prefer the former over the latter.
Put a gun to my head and I'm pulling the trigger with the Warriors and the Raptors. Golden State has played with a sense that the Finals is the ultimate goal as opposed to any regular season record, while Toronto's 45/1 return is simply too good to ignore given their road to glory.
You can check out all of our 2017 NBA Futures in the sportsbook! And you should. You really should. This is the best part of the year for basketball fans. Get invested literally and figuratively.