As the NFL celebrates its 100 anniversary, the league welcomes the Kansas City Chiefs back to the Super Bowl for the first time in 50 years. The Chiefs, 1.5-point favorites in Super Bowl 54, won Super Bowl 4 23-7 over the Minnesota Vikings as 12-point underdogs. Their opponents, the San Francisco 49ers have won five of six Super Bowl appearances but none since a 1995 victory in Super Bowl 29.
2018 NBA Conference Finals Predictions: They Are The Warriors
Rockets vs Warriors Odds
- Game 1: Mon, May 14: Golden State at Houston, 9 p.m. ET, TNT/R
- Game 2: Wed, May 16: Golden State at Houston, 9 p.m. ET, TNT/R
- Game 3: Sun, May 20: Houston at Golden State, 8 p.m. ET, TNT/R
- Game 4: Tue, May 22: Houston at Golden State, 9 p.m. ET, TNT/R
- Game 5*: Thu, May 24: Golden State at Houston, 9 p.m. ET, TNT/R
- Game 6*: Sat, May 26: Houston at Golden State, 9 p.m. ET, TNT/R
- Game 7*: Mon, May 28: Golden State at Houston, 9 p.m. ET, TNT/R
The anticipated showdown for all the marbles in the NBA's Western Conference is upon us. It figured to be a Houston-Golden State standoff from the get go, and that's what we've got. Each is led by a 1-2 superstar tandem - James Harden and Chris Paul for the Rockets against Steph Curry and Kevin Durant for the Warriors. The latter duo has the championship pedigree. Will that give Golden State the edge, or is Houston ready to ascend to the throne?
The regular season saw the Rockets finish with the NBA's best record, winning 65 games, seven more than Golden State. They had two wins in three games against the Warriors, although Golden State won the only game played in Houston. Both teams topped 100 points in all three games, so figure on it being a high-scoring series, making the over the logical wager. Each team posted an 8-2 record through the first two playoff rounds, but that's already one more game that Golden State lost in last year's postseason.
In the offseason, the Rockets reconfigured their club with this series in mind. They moved to deepen their reserve of three-point shooters and create more versatility in their ability to defend. The end result is that four of Houston's top 10 rotation players are new. After going 16-1 in the playoffs last year, guard Quinn Cook is the only newcomer among Golden State's top 10 players. Even though Houston holds home-court advantage, Bovada has established the Warriors as -160 favorites. But we like the Rockets at +200.
BABB Pick: Houston Rockets (+200)
Celtics vs Cavaliers Odds
- Game 1: Sun, May 13: Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/R
- Game 2: Tue, May 15: Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/R
- Game 3: Sat, May 19: Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/R
- Game 4: Mon, May 21: Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/R
- Game 5*: Wed, May 23: Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/R
- Game 6*: Fri, May 25: Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/R
- Game 7*: Sun, May 27: Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/R
If this is indeed to be the second farewell performance for LeBron James as a Cavalier, he is certainly seeking to go out on a high note. The free agent to be led the fourth-seeded Cavs to a shocking sweep of the top-seeded Toronto Raptors, James completely dominated the set, averaging 34 points per game. James has netted at least 22 points in each of Cleveland's 10 playoff games this season, and if the Celtics envision a trip to the NBA Finals, the gameplan is simple - stop LeBron, or least slow him down a bit.
If you like to wager on omens, the last time the Celtics played in the NBA Finals, it was during the second year of the Obama administration in the White House. That was back in 2010, when they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers, just two years after Doc Rivers coached Boston to its most recent NBA title. The Celtics are an injury-riddled bunch, minus guard and former Cav Kyrie Irving due to a knee injury. They may have home court in this set, but Boston has lost nine of its last 10 playoff games to Cleveland.
Both Cleveland and Boston required seven games to win their opening-round series, but they made short work of their second-round opponents. While Cleveland swept the Raptors, Boston toppled the 76ers in five games. James has averaged 34.3 points, 9.4 rebounds and 9.0 assists, while shooting 55.3 percent from the field in postseason play, the main reason why Bovada has put the Cavs down as -300 favorites to win this series. If you wager on the Celtics, you'll get odds of +240, but we think LeBron is finals bound yet again.
BABB Pick: Cleveland Cavaliers (-300)
2018 NBA Conference Finals Picks
After a stellar 7-1 mark in the opening, the second round wasn't as productive, posting a 2-2 slate. In this case, East was least - 0-2 - while West was best - 2-0. That's what you get for buying into the Toronto Raptors and going with the flavor of the moment in the Philadelphia 76ers. Overall through two rounds, a 9-3 slate is nothing to sneeze at, though.
|May 13||CLE at BOS||Game 1||CLE||BOS|
|May 14||GSW at HOU||Game 1||HOU||GSW|
|May 15||CLE at BOS||Game 2||CLE||BOS|
|May 16||GSW at HOU||Game 2||HOU||HOU|
|May 19||BOS at CLE||Game 3||CLE||CLE|
|May 20||HOU at GSW||Game 3||GSW||GSW|
|May 21||BOS at CLE||Game 4||CLE||CLE|
|May 22||HOU at GSW||Game 4||HOU||HOU|
|May 23||CLE at BOS||Game 5||CLE||BOS|
|May 24||GSW at HOU||Game 5||HOU||HOU|
|May 25||BOS at CLE||Game 6||CLE||CLE|
|May 26||HOU at GSW||Game 6||GSW||GSW|
|May 27||CLE at BOS||Game 7||CLE||CLE|
|May 28||GSW at HOU||Game 7||HOU|
What have the Houston Rockets got to do to get a little respect from the bookmakers? Despite posting the best record in the NBA at 65-17, the Rockets are underdogs in the Western Conference final to the Golden State Warriors, and Bovada also lists Golden State as the -105 favorites to win Game 1 in Houston. The Rockets are offered at odds of -115. Golden State was favored to beat Houston in all three of their regular-season meetings and won just once, although that victory was gained in Houston.
Bovada isn't embracing LeBron James with the same kind of love as he seeks to lead the Cavaliers to their fourth successive Eastern Conference crown. Boston opens Game 1 at home and the Celtics are the -105 picks to grab the lead in the series. James and the Cavs are at -115. Cleveland is 5-1 in its last six games at Boston, while the Celtics are 1-5 in their last six games at Cleveland. Boston has won four of seven previous playoff meetings between the two teams.
Home court didn't mean a thing when the Celtics and Cavaliers clashed in last season's East final. The Cavaliers opened a 2-0 series lead at Boston and closet out the set with a Game 5 triumph at TD Banknorth Garden. James scored at least 30 points in all three games played in Boston. The Celtics posted their lone victory in Game 3 at Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena. Overall, home teams finished 1-4 in the series. Golden State was 2-0 at home and 2-0 on the road in sweeping San Antonio in the West final.
NBA Championship Odds Update
The Warriors have won two of the last three NBA Finals and Bovada believes strongly that Golden State will make it three titles in four years. They have established the Warriors as the overwhelming -140 favorites in their NBA Championship future book, and why not? In Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, they start four NBA All-Stars. And as the No. 2 seed in the West, the Warriors are playing with a chip on their shoulders, and a perennial champion really doesn't need any added motivation.
You could make the argument the Western Conference final is really the NBA Finals in disguise. The Houston Rockets have been the NBA's best team all season long and were built specifically anticipating this match up with the Warriors in the conference final. This is the moment when James Harden and Chris Paul can establish their legacies as NBA legends by finally toppling Golden State. Bovada has put the Rockets in as the second choice to win the NBA title at +250.
Among the many epic NBA rivalries, from Celtics-Lakers, to Knicks-Lakers, to Bulls-Jazz, to Heat-Spurs, what the NBA has never witnessed is two teams facing each other in four successive NBA Finals. This year, no one would be surprised to see Cleveland and Golden State butting heads for a fourth straight year. The Cavaliers have been called LeBron James, Kevin Love and a bunch of guys from a YMCA pickup league, and it's true they will go as far as James can carry them. Bovada puts the Cavs at +500 to win it all.
The 2018 NBA Finals will begin on Thursday, May 31, in either Houston or Golden State.
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