Warriors heavy favorites to repeat as NBA champions

The debate over whether the 2017 Warriors are the greatest basketball team of all time is one that can never truly be settled. But there’s no arguing Golden State’s place in history at Las Vegas sports books, which opened the Warriors as unprecedented minus-200 favorites to repeat as NBA champions in 2018.

“In any of the four major team sports that we’ve had, this is the highest preseason favorite that we’ve opened,” Westgate sports book manager Jeff Sherman said.

The Cleveland Cavaliers, who lost to Golden State in five games in the 2017 NBA Finals, are the only other team in single digits as the 3-1 second choice to win the title next season.

“We’ve already got some Warriors support and some Cavaliers support,” Sherman said. “At this point, there’s a wide separation of those two and the next team.”

William Hill sports book posted a prop asking if the Warriors will win the 2018 title. Yes is minus-225, and No is plus-195.

NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry are expected to return to Golden State, which won 31 of its final 33 games in 2017, including 16-1 in the playoffs. The Warriors finished 12-5 against the spread in the postseason and went over the total in 13 of 17 games.

“It will be the same season as last year,” William Hill sports book director Nick Bogdanovich said. “Four or five teams are serious threats, and the rest will need the stars to align to make a run.”

The San Antonio Spurs are the 12-1 third choice, the Boston Celtics are 15-1, and the Houston Rockets, Washington Wizards and Los Angeles Clippers are each 30-1.

The Celtics have the No. 1 overall pick in Thursday’s NBA draft and are expected to select Washington guard Markelle Fultz. Boston also is expected to make a run at Utah Jazz guard Gordon Hayward or Clippers forward Blake Griffin when free agency starts July 1. The Spurs are reportedly interested in acquiring Clippers point guard Chris Paul.

“I have Boston listed at 15-1 expecting them to get Fultz. If they somehow convince Hayward to sign, there’ll be a closer gap in odds between Boston and Cleveland. They’ll probably go down to 10-1,” Sherman said. “I don’t see anything in the West that will cause a shift. Even Chris Paul going to San Antonio will not cause much of a change. The Spurs would probably dip from 12-1 to 8-1. But there’s still such a wide gap.

“There’s not really a marquee group of free agents. There’s really no individual that can go out and change the landscape of the NBA.”

NBA Draft props

Nevada sports books are taking bets on Thursday’s NBA draft for the first time, but oddsmakers expect the action to pale in comparison to the handle for the NFL draft, which featured popular position props.

“We can’t do that for this. It’s pretty much restricted to the schools,” Sherman said.

The most popular prop at the Westgate and William Hill sports books is on the number of UCLA players drafted in the first round. Over 2½ is the minus-500 favorite (under is plus-400) at the Westgate and a minus-400 favorite at William Hill (under is plus-320).

The Bruins are widely projected to have three first-round picks in guard Lonzo Ball and forwards TJ Leaf and Ike Anigbogu.

“Everything we’re seeing is they really should get three guys drafted in the first round,” Sherman said. “We tried to go real high on that to see if we can induce under money.”

More Betting: See more sports betting coverage online at reviewjournal.com/betting and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0354. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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