Warriors, Cavaliers headline National Basketball Association betting lines as playoffs get underway


Leonard - who has been battling a right quad injury all season - has officially been ruled out for San Antonio's opening playoff game against the Golden State Warriors on Saturday, the team announced on Friday night.

This series will be a rematch from last season’s Western Conference Finals. But if for some reason - either due to Curry's injury or otherwise - the Dubs fail to win a third title in four years, we could be looking at a completely different roster for the Warriors in 2019.

The Warriors entered their regular-season finale Tuesday night staring down a unusual question: Would they try to win a game that they'd benefit from losing? Because that Dallas team wasn't great, and they and that's why that was such a level of disappointment for that Miami Heat team.

Thompson found his shot and scored 27 points, making 11 of 13 shots, while 7-footer JaVale McGee started in Steve Kerr's center-by-committee approach and contributed 15 points, four rebounds and two blocked shots in 16 minutes. The Raptors had their best regular season ever, but they were last seen in the postseason getting stomped in four straight by James and the Cavs previous year in the second round. Therefore, he could potentially miss second-round games, giving the Blazers an edge.

Then again, the Warriors might be as risky as ever once Curry returns from a knee injury that might have him back for the second round. This year, they became the first team in National Basketball Association history to close the regular season on a 16-game winning streak, surging to the No. 3 seed in the East.

The Warriors are now in second place in the Western Conference and would host the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round if the season ended today. With the victory, Golden State takes a 1-0 series lead.

The conventional thinking is Golden State will "flip the switch" once the playoffs begin.

This season has been the most controversial for Leonard in San Antonio. And Green is the best Warriors defender.

For Cleveland, so much of it depends on LeBron putting in the work on defence after his team ranked 29th in defensive efficiency over the regular season.

Both are big guards - Green is 6-6, Thompson is 6-7. Spurs games have a slight tendency to go under the O/U total (52.4 percent). With Kawhi Leonard presumably out for the rest of the season, Aldridge is really the only serious offensive threat that the Spurs have at their disposal. Maybe the Spurs make him some assurances if he gets hurt again, maybe the chance at exacting some revenge on a semi-vulnerable Warriors team is too enticing for him, or maybe he actually feels better.

Cook's impressive play has already earned him a contract with the Warriors that will extend through at least next season, and he could prove to be a rotation piece for years to come.

And while it took Gregg Popovich at his best to guide this Spurs team to the postseason, they simply need Kawhi.

However, the Warriors still have enough firepower even without Curry to beat basically anyone in the league.

In the end, San Antonio clinched a playoff spot in its next-to-last game.