It’s been a weird NBA season. The always-good Spurs were historically good, posting the best record in team history and the fourth-best record in NBA history. They went 40-1 at home, meaning that if you caught them at AT&T Stadium this season there was a 97.5 percent chance that you saw them win. Yet all of that has been overshadowed by the Golden State Warriors, who posted the all-time best record in history at 73-9. Meanwhile, the 42-40 Mavericks and the .500 Rockets also made the playoffs, because the NBA allows way too many teams into the postseason.
We aren’t particularly confident about the chances of either the Mavs or the Rockets in the playoffs. Houston opens against Golden State, which—good luck, fellas!—while Dallas goes to Oklahoma City to start their bid for glory. Both teams, from the looks of it, are in a great position to be quickly buzzed through by much better opponents. The Spurs, meanwhile, get to feast on the bones of the Memphis Grizzlies, a team every bit as average as the Mavericks and the Rockets.
But, heck, anything can happen in sports—even one like basketball, where the disparity in talent is obvious, and starting the playoffs with best-of-seven series means that you’ll need a whole bunch of fluky wins to pull of an upset. But, you know, tell that to the 2007 Mavericks or the 2011 Spurs, who both got upset in the first round by eighth-seeded teams. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what the oddsmakers at Sportsbook.ag have to say about Texas teams in the NBA postseason.
Nobody Believes In The Mavericks
The Mavs have a slightly better record than the Rockets, and they start the postseason against the Thunder, which—if only by default—is a more beatable team than the Warriors. But that doesn’t mean that anybody believes in Dirk’s boys, who are a whopping 200/1 shot to make the NBA Finals from the crowded Western Conference. Actually winning the whole thing is even less likely, with the Mavs coming in at 500/1.
The Rockets, somehow, are pulling odds that are twice as good as those that the Mavericks face. That doesn’t matter a whole lot—100/1 to win the conference and 250/1 to win the division aren’t exactly good odds—but it’s worth noting for Dallas and Houston fans who want something to bicker about before they’re knocked out of the tournament.
The Mavs are seen as more likely to escape the first round than the Rockets, which makes sense given the competition: Dallas is 15/1 to beat Oklahoma City to advance, while Houston are 22/1 underdogs against Golden State. If you’re putting money down on the Rockets to upset the best regular-season team of all time, you might just go ahead and bet on them to make it all the way to the end. If they pull off that upset, they can probably ride the wave all the way to the championship.
A Rockets Sweep Of The Warriors Pays Out A Crazy Number
1500/1 odds don’t come up very often in sports betting, but that’s what you get if you bet on a total Warriors implosion in the first round. Bet $1 and you can win $1,500 if the Rockets manage to take Golden State in four games. Granted, that scenario is very unlikely, but who the heck knows—maybe the entire team comes down with a sudden case of whooping cough and the Warriors have to start signing randos off the street! You’ll feel pretty good about your 1500/1 bet in that case, won’t you?
Barring major illness, of course, it’s probably not a great bet. But still, 1500/1 odds for something that could happen because the world is an uncertain place don’t come around too often.
The Spurs Get Just About As Much Respect As They Should
It’s hard to know what to do with the Spurs this year. On the one hand, they’re the best dynasty in all of American sports, playing their best ball ever, with literally no reason to doubt them. On the other hand, man, the Warriors are good. If San Antonio and Golden State were in different conferences, this would all be terrifically exciting, and you’d have to bet $50 to make $1 on a Spurs-Warriors Final coming to pass. But because the Spurs and the Warriors are both in the Western Conference, Vegas is giving the edge to the Warriors—but not by much.
The Spurs face +380 odds to win the NBA Championship—that’s just a fraction under 4/1 odds—while you have to bet $1.80 to win $1 on the Warriors getting there. But those +380 odds the Spurs face are better than the odds that any team from the Eastern Conference has of winning the whole thing. (The Cleveland Cavaliers, at 4/1, are the most likely team from that conference by a wide mile—after them, it’s the Toronto Raptors at a whopping 50/1 and the Miami Heat at 75/1.) In other words, Vegas believes it’s more likely that the Spurs could beat the Warriors and go on to win it all—one heck of a tall order—than it believes that any team could emerge over the Spurs in the event that they play in the NBA Final.
Any other year, a 67-15 Spurs team that shows no sign of slowing down would be an overwhelming favorite to take the title. This year, they’re a slight underdog in their own division because of a powerhouse Warriors team, and the favorite to win the championship if they escape Golden State. That sounds about right.