Things couldn’t be going any better for the Warriors. Really, it’s pretty ridiculous. Not only did they get tested in the nicest way possible in their first round matchup — they emerged with all of their key players relatively healthy after a series sweep that ended with a clear statement of Golden State’s dominance — but the field has taken a bit of a tumble.
The Grizzlies had a closeout chance last night and lost in Portland, sending the series back to Memphis where Mike Conley is recovering from surgery he had on Monday to repair multiple facial fractures. The Spurs and Clippers are deadlocked in a series that appears likely to go seven games. Looking even further ahead, the Cavaliers were dealt a horrible blow as Kevin Love is likely out for the playoffs with a dislocated shoulder. His labrum was torn away from the bone, so the chances of a June comeback for Love seem remote.
As a result, Bovada has bumped Golden State (8/5) ahead of Cleveland (12/5) as the favorite to win the NBA Championship. Rounding out the rest are San Antonio (13/2), Chicago (9/1), Houston (12/1), Atlanta (14/1), Los Angeles (14/1), Memphis (20/1) and Washington (28/1). Bovada had the Cavs and Warriors tied at the top with 11/5 odds heading into the playoffs.
Westgate had the Cavs as the overall favorite in mid-April at 9/4, with the Warriors close behind at 5/2. Their spots have also flipped, with Westgate now installing the Warriors at 7/5 with the Cavaliers at 12/5.
It’s becoming clearer with every Warriors win and potential opponent’s obstacle that the expectations for Golden State have moved from 50+ wins (before the season) to Western Conference Finals (early in the year) to Finals appearance (heading into the playoffs) to their first championship since 1975 (now). That Warriors squad swept the Washington Bullets, and with all that’s gone on in the Eastern Conference over the past week, it’s not out of the realm that Golden State and Washington could face off in a Finals rematch 40 years later … although the Randy Wittman factor still leaves many skeptical, and it’s probably too late to install Paul Pierce as a player-coach.
There’s a lot of basketball remaining, and the Warriors looked shaky at times against the Pelicans. But the team with the best record and point differential in the NBA (by far) is poised to do something no one was expecting back when they lost in seven games to the Clippers and fired Mark Jackson. Pretty wild, huh?