Did anyone see this coming? Not one, but TWO Toronto wins at Oracle Arena have put the Raptors on the verge of the team’s first NBA Championship. Golden State’s experience, championship pedigree, and a historic home-court advantage didn’t matter. At all. In fact, I guess you could say Oracle Arena turned into the Raptors House:
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) June 8, 2019
In what felt like a must-win Game 4, the Warriors came out hot, but Toronto survived the early onslaught and answered back with a dominant 37-21 third quarter to seize control of the game. Amazingly, Toronto outscored the Warriors in seven of the eight quarters played at Oracle Arena last week. Will Kevin Durant return (apparently yes)? Will the Warriors respond and show some championship resolve, or will Toronto deliver the final blow to the Warriors’ dreams of a three-peat? Let’s get after it in our Game 5 betting preview.
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NBA Finals Game 5 odds
Here are the Raptors-Warriors odds for Game 5:
As of Monday morning, the Raptors are between a 1.5 and 2-point favorite at most sportsbooks. That line is considerably shorter than the Toronto -3.5 we saw yesterday afternoon. Why the two-point swing? Kevin Durant practiced with the Warriors on Sunday and he will reportedly return tonight, which, of course, explains the movement. The moneyline also dropped at DraftKings from -155 yesterday afternoon to -121 this morning, while the total jumped from 212.5 to 214.5. At DraftKings, bettors are CRUSHING the Warriors right now– on the moneyline:
Currently, if you want to grab Toronto and lay the points, PointsBet is the place to be where you can get them at -1.5. Interestingly, if you want to take them on the moneyline, you should head to DraftKings where they are actually a larger spread favorite at -2, but a little cheaper on the moneyline at -121.
If you were looking to grab the Raptors in this series, you probably should have done so ahead of Game 4 when they were a relatively modest -130 to win the Larry O’Brien Trophy. If you’re dead set on backing them now, you can grab the Raptors at -500 with DraftKings and the Warriors at +375, while you can get Toronto at -556 and Golden State at +400 at PointsBet. As is the case with the Game 5 lines, Durant’s potential return has also caused a significant shakeup in the futures market. Toronto was -710 and Golden State was +500 to win the series at PointsBet on Sunday afternoon.
I can’t in good conscience advise anyone to take the Raptors at -556, but if you believe Golden State has a miracle run coming, then by all means, go get them now. Maybe they can turn the tables after blowing a 3-1 series lead a few seasons ago. Maybe.
FiveThirtyEight projects a Raptors win, giving them a 63% chance of ending this series tonight based on its CARMELO rating and 70% chance based on ELO. Those projections revealed some value for betting on the Raptors at -155 because that moneyline represents an implied probability of only 60.8%. The updated ELO and CARMELO projections have not yet been adjusted to account for a possible Durant return, but regardless, I again expect to see a gap between the statistical-based probability and the implied moneyline probability caused by a betting public that can’t imagine the Warriors’ dynasty ending in five games. While we’re not talking about crazy value on Toronto like there was in Game 4, it does once again exist.
General betting trends (GOOD)
Let’s first start with each team’s overall performance against the spread. The Raptors are 50-53-1 ATS this season, while the Warriors have been one of the NBA’s worst cover teams this year at 43-57-2. Just how bad? Only the Knicks at 32-47-2 ATS have a worse cover rate. I don’t typically factor a team’s overall cover performance when picking the games, but these overall ATS records don’t reveal much other than to say Golden State spreads have been consistently inflated based on reputation. Hard to say that’s not the case through four games in this series.
Reading the lines
The Raptors are 7-4 ATS this season at home when favored by 3.5 points or less, so they’ve been profitable with similar lines, while the Warriors are 4-5 ATS when an underdog of 3.5 points or less.
Game 5 trends
Teams favored by two points or less are 2-1 ATS in Game 5 of the NBA Finals since the 2004-2005 season. Teams favored by four points or less are 3-4 ATS.
Obviously, Toronto comes into this game off two impressive road wins at Oracle Arena, but it’s worth nothing the last two times a team favored by four points or less in Game 5 won the previous two games games, neither team covered. The Heat won outright in 2006, but failed to cover a four-point spread, while the Pistons lost outright to the Spurs in 2005.
If we expand the sample to all postseason Game 5s (any round) dating back to the 2005 postseason, home teams that won their previous two games are only 3-7 ATS. Most recently, the Clippers beat the Warriors as a 15-point underdog earlier this postseason. In other words, two back-to-back road wins haven’t previously created unstoppable momentum in Game 5s.
This also feels like a good time to mention the Warriors are 6-4 ATS over the last two season when they’ve lost back-to-back games and are 16-13 ATS in road games when coming off a loss. The Raptors, meanwhile, are only 1-3 ATS this season at home when on a two-game winning streak.
Still, the news isn’t great for teams trying to shake off a losing streak. Consider this: Teams off at least a two-game losing streak entering Game 5 of the NBA Finals are only 1-3 SU.
Does Durant really matter that much?
Obviously, nobody knows exactly how effective Durant will be, if he plays, but the Warriors are 8-1 when Durant plays in NBA Finals games and only 8-9 when he doesn’t. The ATS numbers are also better with him (6-3 ATS), so, yeah, the Warriors would greatly benefit from a functional Durant tonight.
Conflicting trends on mome-court advantage
Toronto has enjoyed one of the best home-court advantages this season, winning 41 of 53 games at Scotiabank Arena. Despite winning just over 70% of their games at home, the Raptors are only 26-27 ATS. Meanwhile, Golden State’s 34-17 road record is the NBA’s best, but the Warriors are only 24-26-1 ATS away from home. Basically, the Raptors win a ton at home, and the Warriors win a ton on the road, but both are mediocre against the spread. If you’re looking for a strong home/road cover trend, Golden State is 7-4 ATS this season as a road underdog. The Warriors are also 7-3 ATS on the road this season when coming off two days rest, while the Raptors are 6-4 ATS at home with two days rest.
It’s probably also at least worth some consideration that the Raptors have now won five of six head-to-head meetings with the Warriors this season.
Toronto Covers After Upset Wins
The Raptors are 8-3-1 ATS, a 68.2% cover rate, after winning as underdogs this season, so they haven’t been prone to let downs off of upset wins.
Good things come to those who wait
I wrote about this ahead of Game 4, and there’s no reason not to mention it again. Many bettors like to jump in with live betting or place additional wagers at halftime. If you want to get involved at halftime, here’s something to know: The pregame underdog has covered the second half spread in the last 12 meetings between these two teams. Obviously, you should keep a close eye on how things transpire early and consider your additional wagers before jumping in, but recent history suggests there could be an opportunity worth seizing here.
The Raptors have shown themselves to be the superior squad in this series to this point and have been a tremendous value play throughout. While that value exists once again heading into Game 5, I’m having a hard time envisioning the Warriors going down for a third straight game. You know how many times the Warriors have lost three in a row this season? Only once, and that was back in November. I’ll be honest, I locked in the Warriors at +3.5 on Sunday afternoon and felt pretty good about it. The Durant uncertainty and subsequent line movement gives me some pause at +1.5, but I would still roll with Golden State to extend this series to Game 6.