Though the Golden State Warriors remain without Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins for the foreseeable future, oddsmakers have seen enough to know that this team is still a commanding favorite.
Following the Warriors’ comeback win over the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 2, they’ve moved back to -210 to win the 2019 NBA Finals. That’s where they were at the beginning of the postseason with a fully healthy roster.
Steve Kerr’s group is just six wins away from a three-peat, and it feels like they’ll accomplish that regardless of who’s on the floor.
There’s no substitute for experience, and the Warriors have more of it than the other three postseason teams combined. It’s no secret why NBA betting fans shouldn't get their hopes up for an upset.
KD’s injury ‘more serious than we thought’
Golden State's 15-point comeback against a hungry Blazers team was really the only bit of good news the Warriors had on Thursday. Prior to tipoff, Steve Kerr announced that the right calf strain Kevin Durant suffered in the previous round against the Rockets is “a little more serious than we thought.”
The two-time reigning Finals MVP has already been ruled out for Games 3 and 4 in Portland – and NBC Sports Bay Area's Monte Poole is reporting that it's "likely" Durant misses the entire Blazers series, regardless how long it goes."
Kevin Durant & DeMarcus Cousins injury update: pic.twitter.com/nEDLHT5vue— Warriors PR (@WarriorsPR) May 17, 2019
It’s not simply about him getting healthy, but getting healthy enough to compete in a potential NBA Finals.
Durant leads the NBA in points per game in this postseason, pouring in 34.2 points on 51% from the field, 41% from deep and 90% from the free throw line. His absence has forced the Warriors to go deeper on their bench with players like Jonas Jerebko, Jordan Bell and Andre Iguodala seeing an uptick in minutes.
Of course, it hasn’t mattered much. The Warriors have gone a perfect 3-0 in the postseason without their leading scorer, and they also won both Round 1 games in 2017 when Durant sat against the same Blazers team.
Updated:— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) May 17, 2019
The Warriors are 29-1 in the last 30 games they have played with Steph Curry and withOUT Kevin Durant in the lineup, including a perfect 5-0 record in the playoffs. https://t.co/RcRFPbCs51
Still, the Warriors would like to get Durant back for a potential NBA Finals matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks or Toronto Raptors. Those two teams, who respectively won 60 and 58 games in the regular season, will pose a much larger threat to Golden State than the Blazers.
The Warriors will be the favorites whether Durant is in the lineup or not, but his presence in the lineup makes Golden State unbeatable.
Cousins ‘not exactly close’ to return, either
The Durant injury news might have been easier to swallow if the Warriors got good news on DeMarcus Cousins. As it turns out, Boogie might be on the shelf even longer. Kerr said Cousins is ‘not exactly close’ to being in game shape, though he continues to make progress in his rehab.
Again, it’s about being in good enough physical shape to withstand the rigors of a seven-game playoff series. Cousins is only now beginning to do light on-court work, meaning it’d be a stretch to see him in the Portland series.
With Toronto and Milwaukee both touting excellent frontcourts, Cousins’ status will still be important to track if and when the Warriors finish off the Blazers and advance to their fifth straight NBA Finals.
Injuries open the door for Steph
Stephen Curry has been before and he’s playing like it. Even without Durant and Cousins in the mix, Curry has taken the reins and reestablished himself as one of the game’s elite following a slow start to the postseason.
In the three games Durant has missed, Curry has averaged 35.3 points on 49% shooting and 42% from beyond the arc. He’s made 17 3-pointers and averaged 6.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists in the three victories.
He’s on an absolute tear and, given that Durant may not be at full-strength the rest of the season, has moved even with Durant as the favorite to win the 2019 NBA Finals MVP.
They’re both +180 in NBA futures markets, and seeing as Curry has never won the award and stayed healthy the entire postseason, voters may lean his way if Golden State finishes off the three-peat.