Things are not looking good for the defending champs. With a loss in Game Three of the NBA Finals Wednesday night, the Golden State Warriors are in legitimate danger of losing their stranglehold on the NBA crown. There is still plenty of basketball left to be played, of course, so the series is far from lost.
From a historical perspective, teams that are behind 2-1 in a best-of-seven series are going to lose roughly 75 percent of the time. The team leading after three tends to win approximately 8o percent of the time.
Lose Game Four and the odds of winning the Finals drop dramatically (less than five percent chance).
So, if the Warriors want to have a decent shot at the title, they do need to win Game Four. According to media reports, the Warriors expect to have Klay Thompson back barring any unforeseen setbacks. However, Kevin Durant has been ruled out.
But before those announcements were made, oddsmakers had already established the Warriors as 5.5-point favorites. The line has since moved to 4.5-points (via BetOnline.ag), and the money line has shifted as well but with the Warriors still favored (Warriors -195; Raptors +170).
Do the oddsmakers know something that the rest of us don’t?
With how the series has gone so far, it would make sense if the Raptors were to have a slight edge even with the game being played in Oakland. Overall, they have been playing a much better series than the Warriors. Had they not missed so many open shots in Game Two, we could be looking at the Warriors being down, 3-0.
However, at the same time, the Raptors have had an opportunity to take over all three games and put them away. But they failed to do so in each. Golden State was in Game One almost to the end. Toronto should have won Game Two but couldn’t make a shot when they needed to most. While Game Three looked like an easy win, Steph Curry kept it from getting out of hand all by himself.
Toronto has failed to display any kind of killer instinct in the first three games of the series. If even the smallest window is left open for the Warriors, they are more than capable of taking advantage of any and every opportunity that comes their way.
So, what does all of this mean for Game Four? Who is going to win? Are the oddsmakers, right?
What all of this means is that the series could very easily still go Golden State’s way. Toronto won Game Three because they made their shots, unlike in Game Two. But the playoffs have already proven their offense to be unreliable.
At the same time, it is hard to say if the Warriors are going to generate enough offense. They seem stuck at 109 points.
Momentum favors the Raptors right now, so take them to win. But if doing so makes you a little nervous, take the points. If Golden State wins, they will probably fail to cover the spread.