Top Three NBA Playoff Value Teams
The Golden State Warriors have just made history. Wednesday’s 125-104 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies (+17 away) left the Warriors at 73-9 SU and 45-35-2 ATS at the end of the regular season, breaking the old record of 72 wins set by the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls. Golden State also finished as this year’s most profitable team. It was a master class in basketball from arguably the greatest team of all time.
But the Warriors (–150 at press time) aren’t the best value on the NBA championship futures market. The favorites usually aren’t, especially when they’ve got someone like eventual two-time MVP Stephen Curry on their roster. Here are three less celebrated teams worth your consideration for the playoffs.
San Antonio Spurs (+400)
The Spurs (67-15 SU, 44-38 ATS) have been playing in Golden State’s shadow this year, but according to the advanced stats, they were ahead of the Warriors when it came to performance level – until the final week of the regular season. That’s when the Dubs won back-to-back games over San Antonio, straight up and against the spread, to keep their Quest for 73 alive. The Spurs were using their full lineup for those games, as well.
Now that the playoffs are here, the Spurs find themselves well behind the Warriors on the futures market. Too far behind. While Curry is almost certain to win his second MVP award, Kawhi Leonard (26.1 PER) has played just as well, if you factor in defense. Most voters don’t, and neither do most bettors. The roster behind Leonard is loaded with depth and talent, and the three core players from the previous five Spurs championship teams are still playing well: Tim Duncan (16.9 PER), Manu Ginobili (17.9 PER) and Tony Parker (16.2 PER).
Toronto Raptors (+3300)
North of the border, the Raptors (56-26 SU, 45-37 ATS) have assembled the best team in franchise history, with a viable Big Three in Kyle Lowry (22.2 PER), DeMar DeRozan (21.5 PER) and Jonas Valanciunas (22.6 PER). But like San Antonio in the West, Toronto is undervalued in the East because of the public’s affection for the No. 1 conference seed, the Cleveland Cavaliers (+400). The Raptors have extra betting value for being a Canadian-based team with a very small footprint in the American media.
Atlanta Hawks (+10000)
Another overlooked team in the East, the Hawks (48-34 SU, 42-39-1 ATS) bring back most of the players who won 60 regular-season games last year. They’re not quite as good this year without small forward DeMarre Carroll, now with the Raptors, but Thabo Sefolosha (12.4 PER) is available to fill that 3-and-D role after he missed last year’s playoffs with a broken leg. Better overall health should allow the Hawks to make a stronger challenge this year, with a much better payout at the end if they win.