UPDATE on Wednesday, 6/5/19, at 1:25 p.m. Eastern: With Kevin Durant and Kevon Looney officially ruled “out” while Klay Thompson (hamstring) remains “questionable,” most books have adjusted the Warriors to 4.5-point favorites. The total is now 213.5 points, with the Raptors at +175 on the money line. You can view all the line moves via VegasInsider here.
Golden State fell behind by 12 points in the second quarter of Sunday’s Game 2 of the NBA Finals. Kevin Durant wasn’t dressed out, Steph Curry wasn’t feeling 100 percent and then Kevon Looney was lost for the game to a chest contusion.
The Warriors were able to trim the deficit to five at halftime, but Toronto was still in great position to take a 2-0 series lead. The Raptors had already beaten Golden State three times in as many tries this season. They were on a five-game winning streak and had won six in a row at home.
But then the second half started. Golden State exploded for an 18-0 run and appeared to be coasting to victory midway through the fourth quarter. The Warriors had lost yet another key player when Klay Thompson left the game with a hamstring injury. They still led 106-94 with 5:40 remaining, though, thanks to Andrew Bogut’s third bucket (in only seven minutes of action after taking a DNP in Game 1) off an alley-oop pass from Draymond Green.
Toronto made one late push thanks to stops galore at the defensive end. On its next-to-last possession while trailing 106-101, Pascal Siakam and Danny Green kept it alive with consecutive offensive rebounds. Siakam gathered his rebound and found Green for a 3-pointer with 26.9 seconds remaining.
Up by only two, Andre Iguodala was left all alone on the left wing with about eight seconds left in the game and around 5.4 ticks remaining on the shot clock. Iguodala measured his shot and let it fly, catching nothing but bottoms to secure a 109-104 win for the Warriors as two-point underdogs.
The 213 combined points slithered “under” the 213.5-point total to provide “over” supporters with a brutal bad beat. Iguodala’s 3-ball splashed the nets with 5.9 seconds left. After Toronto burned its final timeout to advance the ball to halfcourt, it got another shot to send the game “over,” but Danny Green’s trey was off the mark. Iguodala rebounded with 1.8 ticks left and went unfouled to sew up the “under.”
Bettors who were monitoring in-game opportunities had lots of chances to get on Golden State when it was down double digits in the second quarter. Trailing by 10, 11 and 12 in separate moments midway through the second stanza, betting shops were offering the Warriors at +7.5 and at varying money-line odds North of +240 and in a few brief instances, +300 and change.
Steve Kerr’s team won outright in a gut-check performance that was earned thanks to a plethora of contributions. Before going out injured, Thompson kept Golden State in the game early in the first quarter and finished with 25 points, five rebounds and five assists compared to only one turnover. With Thompson out, reserve guard Quinn Cook drained three crucial 3-pointers in the second half.
Green was everywhere on both ends of the floor. The Michigan State product made 6-of-12 field-goal attempts after going 2-of-9 from the field in Game 1. Green’s final stats looked like this: 17 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists, two steals and one blocked shot.
After playing DeMarcus Cousins for only eight minutes in Game 1, Kerr inserted Cousins into the starting lineup Sunday in what was only his second game back since an injury in the opening round against the Clippers. Cousins responded to the challenge, producing 11 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and two blocked shots in 28 minutes of playing time.
After a slow start, Curry came alive in the second quarter of a 23-point effort. He also had three rebounds, three steals and four assists with merely one turnover.
Another special performance from Kawhi Leonard went for naught. He scored 34 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and handed out three assists. Leonard made all 16 of his free-throw attempts.
Fred VanVleet scored 17 points and has now scored at least 13 in five consecutive contests. Kyle Lowry was limited to 28 minutes of action due to foul trouble. He had 13 points, draining 3-of-7 launches from 3-point range, but he had as many turnovers (two) as assists (two). Marc Gasol threw some beautiful outlet passes in the first quarter, but he was held to six points and six rebounds.
As of early Tuesday morning, most betting shops had Golden State installed as a six-point home favorite in Game 3. The total was 212.5 or 213 points, while the Raptors were +220 on the money line.
The updated series price is Golden State -300, leaving the Raptors as +250 underdogs.
Toronto has been an underdog of six points or more just six times this season, going 3-3 ATS. When listed as ‘dogs of five points or more, the Raptors are 5-3 versus the number.
Sportsbook posted its updated odds to win Finals MVP honors early Monday. Curry opened as a -200 favorite, but he was down to -180 later in the afternoon. Durant, who is officially listed as “questionable” for Game 3 and is expected to return in Game 4 at the latest, had 40/1 odds at Sportsbook early Monday.
I found that number intriguing. With Durant, Thompson and Looney all listed as “questionable” for Wednesday’s showdown at Oracle Arena in Oakland, it isn’t hard to envision Toronto prevailing in Game 3. If Durant were to return in Game 4 and serve as the catalyst for Golden State rallying from a 2-1 deficit to win its third consecutive NBA Championship, he could easily win the award.
However, when I refreshed those odds a few hours later, Durant had been adjusted from 40/1 to 20/1. Leonard has the second-shortest odds (+275) behind Curry. For gamblers mulling a play on Toronto at +250 to win the series, perhaps taking the prop for Leonard to win MVP is the better way to go at a price that’s 25-cents more generous.
Toronto’s only potential threat to win MVP outside of Leonard is Siakam, but his odds are now 30/1. He had gone from 40/1 odds to 8/1 after erupting for 32 points in the series opener. In Game 2, however, the third-year forward out of New Mexico State hit just 5-of-18 FGAs and scored only 12 points.
Green has 4/1 odds behind Leonard. The next players on the board are Iguodala (15/1), Thompson (20/1), VanVleet (75/1), Lowry (75/1), Gasol (100/1) and Serge Ibaka (500/1).
The “over” is on an 8-2 run in the past 10 head-to-head meetings between these teams. However, the “under’ has cashed at an 8-2-1 clip for the Raptors in their past 11 road assignments.
Game 3 is scheduled for Wednesday at 9:07 p.m. Eastern on ABC.
Editor’s Note: You can check out more of Brian’s analysis of the NBA Finals in this video posted to the MajorWager YouTube channel. You can also check out Brian’s daily sports betting analysis on his Twitter account here.