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Sharp bettors like Raptors over Warriors in Game 1 of NBA Finals

Updated May 29, 2019 - 4:44 pm

When Stephen Curry plays and Kevin Durant sits, the Golden State Warriors are 31-1 in their past 32 games.

But wiseguys at the Westgate sportsbook expect that record to fall to 31-2 after Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday in Toronto.

The Warriors opened as 1-point favorites over the Raptors at the Westgate before money from sharp bettors made Toronto a 1-point favorite.

“They’ve been betting us Raptors in the game, Raptors first half and Raptors first quarter,” Westgate sportsbook manager Jeff Sherman said of the sharps. “Now the public is playing the Warriors in the game. It wouldn’t surprise me if this game went back to pick.”

Durant, a four-time NBA scoring champion, has been ruled out of Game 1 with a calf injury, and Sherman expects him to miss the entire Finals.

“They keep saying it’s progressing, but he hasn’t practiced with the team, and that’s the first step to him getting back. My feeling is he’s not going to be ready for the series,” he said. “I think the injury is worse than they initially thought.”

With a healthy Durant, Sherman said the Warriors would be 2½-point favorites in Game 1 and minus 500 series favorites. Without the former NBA MVP, Golden State is a minus 310 series favorite, with Toronto a plus 250 underdog.

“You’re getting a cheaper price on the Warriors if you’re still under the belief that they can take care of it,” Sherman said. “I like the Warriors in six, but I think it’s going to be a challenging series. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the series extended to seven games.”

Raptors (+250) over Warriors, series

Raptors (-1) over Warriors, Game 1

Professional sports bettor Erin Rynning said the price is right for a series play on the Raptors, who have home-court advantage.

“The series could go either way, and plus 250 on a series that could go either way is worth a bet,” said Rynning (@ersports1). “To me, it correlates, and I did bet Toronto in Game 1.

“Home court really looms large to a degree Toronto needs to win the first two games. I think they’re capable.”

Rynning (bettoriq.com) said he was more impressed by the Raptors eliminating the Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks than he was by the Warriors beating the Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers.

“Kawhi Leonard is perhaps the best two-way player in the world, and I think the matchup with the Bucks helps them,” he said. “They had to defend the fast break and 3-point shot, and they can take a lot of what they did and move it into the Golden State series as well.

“Golden State is always able to get to that next level, but they’re going to have to get to a real high level here to beat Toronto.”

The Raptors swept the season series against the Warriors, winning 131-128 in overtime Nov. 29 at home and 113-93 on Dec. 12 on the road.

“Toronto’s a really good defensive team,” Sherman said. “I think they’ll play real physical with Curry and try to frustrate him and make other guys beat them.”

Finals MVP

Curry is the minus 140 favorite to win NBA Finals MVP honors, and Leonard is the 3-1 second choice.

A Westgate bettor placed a $1,000 wager to win $300,000 on Toronto center Marc Gasol to be named NBA Finals MVP, and a respected bettor placed a wager on Raptors guard Kyle Lowry at 100-1 odds to earn MVP honors. Gasol is now 100-1 and Lowry 40-1.

Durant is 25-1 to win his third consecutive NBA Finals MVP award.

“I think he’ll be back for Game 3,” Rynning said. “That basically gives him an extra week. They play Thursday, Sunday and then Wednesday. I think that’s when you’ll see him.”

More Betting: Follow at reviewjournal.com/betting and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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