The Golden State Warriors are healthy and look ready to win a third consecutive NBA championship. It’s only been accomplished three times in the history of the league, with the Los Angeles Lakers (2000-2002) and the Chicago Bulls (1991-1993, 1996-1998) accomplishing the feat most recently.
So, even though the Warriors have incredible odds to become the sixth team – they enter the postseason at -210 in NBA title betting odds to win the title – it won’t be easy. Here are five teams capable of upsetting Steph and Co. in June, and you can go here to bet on them.
Houston Rockets (+1000)
What a turbulent season for the Rockets, who started 11-14 and suffered significant injuries to both Chris Paul and Clint Capela. But they rebounded and look every bit the title contender on both ends of the floor; their offense makes for great highlight reels but let’s not forget they’ve had the No. 2 defense in the NBA since March 1.
James Harden put up MVP-type numbers and the supporting cast grew immensely as the season went on. Remember, this is a team that had the Warriors on the ropes last season in the Western Conference Finals. They also have a mental edge on Golden State, having beat them twice in three tries this season.
They’re +1000 to win the Finals, second best in the West.
Milwaukee Bucks (+850)
The best way to beat the Warriors? Have the best player in the NBA on the best team in the NBA. The Bucks won 60 games this season and have an embarrassment of offensive weapons to counter the Warriors’ attack in a potential Finals matchup. That, and the Bucks had the NBA’s best defense from start to finish this season.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe and Brook Lopez is a dynamic four-headed monster, and the Bucks will get injured reinforcements back in Malcolm Brogdon and Nikola Mirotic by the heart of the postseason.
And remember, the Bucks embarrassed the Warriors in Oracle by 23 points in November. They know they can beat the champs. They’re +850 to win it all, the second-best odds behind the Warriors.
Toronto Raptors (+900)
Another way to beat the Warriors? Experience. No one can match Golden State’s most recent experience – having played in four consecutive Finals – but Toronto comes close. Kawhi Leonard has been a Finals MVP, Danny Green and Serge Ibaka have Finals experience, while Kyle Lowry and Marc Gasol are as seasoned as veterans can get.
They also have the lone distinction of sweeping the Warriors this season, something that’s been done only one other time by an East team during Golden State’s dynasty.
Toronto is at +900 but flew under the radar at times because of what the Bucks were doing at the top of the East. But this is still a team that won 58 games and finished third in net rating, just behind the Warriors.
Boston Celtics (+1600)
At some point the Celtics are going to take all that talent and look like title contenders, right? They were one win away from a Finals berth a year ago, and that was without the services of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. They brought back the exact same team – with a healthy Irving and Hayward – and have been far worse this season.
They’ve had bright spots to be sure – including a 31-point win over Golden State – but the consistency still hasn’t been there. Maybe they flip a switch in the postseason or Brad Stevens finds the right combinations of lineups for this group to take a leap.
As it stands, they’re a tier below the true contenders, but because of that they also have excellent odds. This is as talented a team as you’ll find at +1600 odds to win the title.
Denver Nuggets (+3000)
The Nuggets transformed from a good to a great team this season. This May and June we’ll find out if they’re ready to go from great to elite. They’re about as balanced a team as you’ll find in the West, as they finished the season ranked sixth in offense and 10th in defense and have star players on both ends of the floor.
They have a bona fide superstar in Nikola Jokic and their Jamal Murray-Gary Harris-Will Barton backcourt trio is outstanding. Mike Malone’s group also has terrific depth that could come in handy in the postseason.
They’re perhaps still a year away, but they have terrific odds considering they’re a 53-win team and the No. 2 seed in the West. Their +3000 odds make for an excellent dark-horse pick.