We’ve uncovered three title contenders with enough betting value for your NBA picks. Now let’s take a look at the two teams you should leave at the basketball altar.
No, this is not an April Fool’s joke: The Cleveland Cavaliers have a 2-percent chance of defending their NBA championship. That’s according to the Elo-based projections at FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver’s trusted source for advanced stats and analysis. If you run 2-percent through our SBR Betting Odds Converter, you get +4900 out the other side. The Cavs are +300 at Bovada’s NBA futures market as we go to press.
So what do you think? Are these numbers all a bunch of hooey? Do the Cavaliers (48-27 SU, 33-39-3 ATS) have what it takes to “turn it on” for the playoffs? There’s no question the defending champs should play better basketball once they shorten their rotation, but when it comes to making your NBA picks for the postseason, you might want to look somewhere else for betting value. Just about anywhere else, in fact.
Anywhere else except Houston. The Rockets (51-25 SU, 42-34 ATS) are the other team whose title projections don’t justify their spot on the NBA odds list. FiveThirtyEight gives them a 3-percent chance of winning it all, down from four percent when we previewed our top value picks for the championship. Three percent translates to +3233, but the Rockets are priced at +1400. No sale.
Interesting that Houston would end up in the same bucket as Cleveland. You’d expect the Cavs to be overvalued in general, even if they hadn’t gone 7-10 SU and 5-11-1 ATS in the month of March. But aren’t the Rockets supposed to be flying under the radar in the Western Conference? Isn’t the betting market supposed to hate Houston’s analytics-friendly approach? Look at how well the Rox have done ATS during the regular season. Surely there’s a problem here.
There is, and it’s the Golden State Warriors. Houston may be a fine basketball pick in many single-game situations, but the Warriors just beat them twice, SU and ATS, home and away, in the span of three days. On the season, the Rockers are 1-3 SU and ATS versus Golden State. They’re also 1-3 SU and 2-2 ATS versus the San Antonio Spurs. Houston may be the third-best team in the entire league, but they’re third in the West behind the Warriors and Spurs. That’s a hell of a gauntlet to run just to reach the NBA Finals.