NICK WRIGHT: This is the first time in over three years any team has had equal or better odds than the Warriors to win the NBA championship.
CRIS CARTER: Nick, why don’t you be a little bit of a Vegas whisperer here. Why don’t you try to tell the people what Vegas is trying to tell the people, in having the odds being even.
NICK WRIGHT: OK.
JENNA WOLFE: That’s the greatest question you could have asked him. He is so excited to answer.
NICK WRIGHT: No, but it’s an important question. I’m glad you did ask it. What is baked into this number is that clearly, the line makers in Vegas share the belief that you have, that Chris Broussard has, which is that the Warriors without Steph Curry could get got in the first round. Vegas is not sitting here telling you Warriors-Rockets Western Conference finals is a coin flip.
What they’re sitting there telling you is we are not certain, not nearly certain as we’ve been in years past, that the Warriors are going to get there. Because the one series we know Steph’s not playing in is round one, and I’m very confident in saying this. If the Warriors and Rockets play in the Western Conference finals, even with the Rockets having home court advantage, if the Warriors have their full complement of players, which we think they will, the Warriors will be the favorites.
So why would they have even odds? Because they have more questions about the Warriors getting to the Western Conference Finals than they have about the Rockets getting in the Western Conference finals. Again, there’s only been– there’s been a three-day window in the last three and a half years where the Warriors were not the sole favorites to win the championship. That was the three days after they went down 3-1 to the Thunder.
Once it got to 3-3, they went back to be in the favorites. They were the favorites all year. They were the favorites at the tail end of the previous year. That’s it. So the reason we’re talking about Vegas odds changing is this is jarring. This is, we talked Tiger Woods earlier. This is Tiger in his prime, not being the favorite to win the Masters. Like it simply didn’t happen.
CRIS CARTER: And it’s also sending out a red flag to those who potentially, you need to watch. That’s why round one and round two in the NBA playoffs, I believe, will be better than the rounds that we have seen before. I believe this will be the most contested championship that Golden State will go after, because when Steph misses series number one, all you getting ready to miss a superstar.
JENNA WOLFE: Right.
CRIS CARTER: And we’re going to be able to see that instantly.
JENNA WOLFE: So with the Warriors, the key to their success is obviously injuries. Because if they can overcome that, they’re OK. But what is it with the Rockets? What do you think the key is for them in the postseason?
CRIS CARTER: It’s about confidence. It’s about what they did this offseason. People don’t mention them, but man, PJ Tucker. Man, he’s a bad– Like he brings a lot of Capela. Did we know that he was going to develop like this? Chris Paul, his ability to stay healthy and his ability to share the spotlight and the basketball with James Harden. And James Harden has put together one of the four best seasons that he’s ever had, because he should have been MVP before this season.
But, he didn’t give up on that. We got Chris Paul. He came back and still put up, arguably, his best season as a pro.
NICK WRIGHT: And I want to draw a comparison that people will remember. One of the things that unlocked the Warriors was good fortune, right? After Steve Kerr got there. Keep in mind, they were starting David Lee. David Lee got hurt. They insert Draymond Green, and all of a sudden it’s a revelation. Draymond Green was not who we think of now, the defensive player of the year.
CRIS CARTER: Yes.
NICK WRIGHT: Emotional leader of the team. He was considered being thrown into a Klay Thompson for Kevin Love trade, right?
CRIS CARTER: Yes.
NICK WRIGHT: So they didn’t know what they had in Draymond Green until he got out there Well, the Rockets were starting Ryan Anderson. He got hurt. Then, they insert PJ Tucker into the starting lineup. And all of a sudden, it’s like, oh, we’re not dropping off offensively, and we’re adding so much defensively. This is– there are two numbers that I think define why the Rockets can beat. Now I don’t know that they’d be favored to beat, but certainly can beat a full-strength Warriors team.
The first number is this. 65 wins. They are right now 62 and 15. They’re going to get to 65 wins. That’s an historic number in this league. Twenty teams have done it. Fifteen of those 20 teams have gone on to win the title. If you don’t care about the history, you only care about the here and now, here’s the other number.
Forty-one times, the Rockets have played with the three best players, Harden, Paul, Capela. They are 39 and two in those 41 games. You want to beat them in a series? You’ve got to beat them four times. They won and lost twice all year with their full complement of players. That’s the other reason, in addition to Steph’s injury, that people think that Houston might be, while they struggled unveiling the championship banner for the Astros.
CRIS CARTER: Yes.
NICK WRIGHT: They might get a second shot at it with the Rockets.