(Truth is) I never should have let you go
(Truth is) And it’s killing me cuz now I know
(Truth is) And when it’s all said and done
Guess I’m still in love with you
– Fantasia Barrino
If you don’t know the above lyrics by R&B artist Fantasia, that’s okay. The point is that only four NBA teams are ‘safe’ bets to win the 2016 NBA Championship – and that’s the truth, no matter how you feel. This look at my top four favorites to hoist this season’s Larry O’Brien trophy will give you the insight you’ll need in order to maximize your wager on one or more of these title hopefuls. With that said and a full slate of NBA roundball action taking place tonight, let’s get started. Don’t forget to check our NBA lines to stay on top of each and every game!
The #Warriors are cruising & making more history from long range.
— GoldenStateWarriors (@warriors) February 3, 2016
Safe Bets To Win The 2016 NBA Championship
Golden State Warriors 7/5
It sounds absolutely ludicrous right now, but some supposed NBA experts (more like knuckleheads) weren’t even giving the defending champs a realistic shot to retain their title.
Well, damn that… the Warriors are not only back to defend their title, but clearly, better than ever. For me, it’s not even the fact that the Warriors are an insane 44-4 at the moment, its how they’ve gotten there that should have everyone worried.
Not only has Steph Curry raised his level of play after winning the league MVP title last season, but more importantly, stretch four power forward Draymond Green has taken his game to brand new – and dizzying heights.
Green is averaging 14.6 points per game, 9.5 rebounds and a stellar, team-leading 7.3 assists per night while becoming the main player that the Warriors now run their offense through. Green has recorded nine triple-doubles this season and now looks like the league’s most versatile forward (sorry LeBron), not to mention Golden State’s emotional leader.
The Dubs lead the league in scoring (115.0 ppg) and while they rank just 19th in defense (102.3 ppg) they’ve made a habit out of beating teams with now, seemingly effortless play. Golden State ranks second in the ATS standings (29-18-1 ATS) and have the best two shooters on the planet on their roster in Curry (29.4 ppg) and Klay Thompson (21.4 ppg). Make no mistake about it people…right now the Warriors are clearly the odds on favorite to win it all.
Cleveland Cavaliers 5/2
Whether you love LeBron James or you loathe him with all your being, the fact of the matter is that the Cleveland Cavaliers are a legitimate title contender and one of the top three ‘safest’ bets to bring home the bacon this season, mostly because they play in the abysmal Eastern Conference.
The Cavs rank third in defense (96.5 ppg) and that alone makes them a tough team to beat, no matter what conference they play in. Add in the fact that the Cavs seem to suddenly be rejuvenated by the elevation of former assistant Tyron Lue to head coach – and I believe the Cavs and their ‘Big Three’ could reach brand new heights over the second half of the regular season and well into the playoffs.
LeBron James, is still a huge difference-maker late in games despite the fact that he’s been overshadowed by Steph Curry this season. Ultimately, I believe the Cavs will need to find a way to help Kevin Love (10.6 rpg) reach his full potential, particularly at the offensive end of the floor where he’s been a 16-point per game scorer since coming to Cleveland. Still, the Cavs will likely reach the NBA Finals without much of a challenge in the East.
San Antonio Spurs 3/1
At this point, it really doesn’t matter who suits up for the San Antonio Spurs! This team knows how to win games and to me, looks like the only team in the league that has any chance of upsetting the defending champion Golden State Warriors.
The Spurs lead the league in defense (91.2 ppg) while also ranking third in defensive field goal percentage (42.9%), second in three-point filed goal defense and first in defensive rebounding. However, the Spurs aren’t all about defense as they rank sixth in scoring (104.5 ppg), first in field goal shooting percentage (49.1%), third in three-point shooting percentage (38.7%) and ninth in offensive rebounding.
Making matters even more difficult for their opponents is the fact that the Spurs have a plethora of skilled veteran players that can all ‘go off’ on any given night. Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard is now the team’s leading scorer (19.8 ppg), but newly acquired power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (16.1 ppg), veteran point guard Tony Parker (12.4 ppg), ageless wingman Manu Ginobili (10.1 ppg) and a handful of other players including Tim Duncan, Patty Mills, Danny Green, Boris Diaw and David West, can all put the ball in the hole with deadly accuracy when called upon.
Oklahoma City Thunder 20/1
I’m making the Thunder a ‘safe’ team to win the 2016 NBA Championship, but I’ve got some serious concerns that they won’t be able to get past either Golden State or San Antonio in the Western Conference.
I know the Thunder have two of the very best players on the planet in Kevin Durant (27.2 ppg) and Russell Westbrook (24.0 ppg, 9.9 apg) and that they rank second in scoring (109.5 ppg), but I don’t like the fact that the Thunder have yet to find a way to play more ‘team’ basketball at the offensive end of the floor.
I know the Thunder are getting double-digit scoring from Serge Ibaka (12.9 ppg), Enes Kanter (11.9 ppg) and Dion Waiters (10.0 ppg), but they’re still a team that gets stagnant at the offensive end of the floor while watching Durant or Westbrook go one-on-one far too often. I’m also not very impressed with the Thunder’s mediocre defense – or their lack of heart!