Even after last season's NBA Finals collapse, the Warriors are still favorites to defeat the Cavaliers and win the title.
The Golden State Warriors ended the month of January on an 8–1 straight up and 7–2 against the spread run. The Warriors have emerged as the clear team to beat this postseason as the regular season rolls into February.
Golden State is a –140 favorite on the odds to win the NBA Championship at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Scoring at a remarkable clip of 118 points per game, the Warriors have the best record in the NBA at 41–7 straight up and have averaged 13.2 points per game more than their opponents this season.
By comparison, last year's 73–9 straight up Golden State team averaged 114.9 points per game and had a point differential of 10.8 points per game.
The race for the NBA title was expected by many to be a two-horse affair, but bettors are starting to wonder if the Cleveland Cavaliers can hold up their end of the deal. Cleveland (+260 to win the championship) looked extremely pedestrian in the month of January with a 7–8 straight up and 3–12 against the spread record and has given up a troubling 111.5 points per game over its last six games.
The Cavaliers, obviously, have enough talent to get over this midseason lull, but this team will need to make some major improvements if it hopes to compete with Kevin Durant's Warriors.
The San Antonio Spurs (+750) have the second best point differential in the league behind the Warriors, beating opponents by an average score of 8.1 points per game. The Spurs rank second in defense only to the Utah Jazz (+6600) while also averaging a respectable 107.4 points per game on offense.
San Antonio is 10–4 straight up and 9–5 against the spread in its last 14 games against Golden State, per the OddsShark NBA Database.
Other potential contenders in the Western Conference include the Los Angeles Clippers (+1400) and the Houston Rockets (+1600). The Clippers are expected to get Chris Paul back from his thumb injury in time for the postseason push and recently saw Blake Griffin's return.
In the East, the Toronto Raptors (+2500) and the Boston Celtics (+3300) are the two main obstacles standing between Cleveland and a third straight trip to the NBA Finals. Boston is 17–6 straight up and 14–8–1 against the spread on the NBA betting lines over its last 23 games.