The 2019 NBA Playoffs have been spectacular to say the least, with amazing comebacks, series-winning shots and several historic individual performances all contributing to what has been a great postseason so far.
Never before has a team from Canada reached the final stages of the competition, with the Toronto Raptors making franchise history this year. At the same time, the Golden State Warriors have made history as well, becoming the first team to make it to five consecutive NBA Finals.
As with all Playoffs series, the two teams will play the best of seven games, after which the 2019 World Champions will ultimately be crowned. Game 1 is on Thursday night in Toronto and the format followed is 2-2-1-1-1.
The road so far
Golden State Warriors
It has not been an easy route for the Warriors, despite the over-achieving Portland Trail Blazers being no match in the Western Conference Finals; with some claiming the real finals have already been played between Houston and Golden State in the Semi-Finals.
The Rockets were as competitive as it gets, but again couldn’t overcome the Champions in a series full of close games and amazing performances by the trio of Curry, Thompson and Green. And even before the Rockets, it took the Warriors another six games to knock-out Lou Williams’ led Clippers in the First Round.
They have been able to hold on and push through despite the injuries to key stars Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins, with the former MVP set to miss out on the first games played in Scotiabank Arena but on track to return at some point during these all important Finals.
Masai Ujiri is bound to be the happiest man in Canada right now, with the move to trade for Kawhi Leonard last summer proving to be the edge the Raptors needed to make it to their first ever NBA Finals.
Leonard has broken multiple playoff franchise records and averaged 30+ PPG on over 50% shooting in at least fifteen games during a playoff run, and his game-winner against the Philadelphia Sixers was certainly one for the ages.
The Raptors have shown great character, contained the MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo, won four straight games and overcome a 0-2 deficit in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Nick Nurse’s team has the home-court advantage and the supporting cast to complete a historic run and a huge upset at the same time, especially if players like Pascal Siakam (front-runner for 2019 Most Improved Player) and Marc Gasol make some noise in the low post.
The players to look out for
It feels like an understatement to say he has carried his team, but the elite defender has helped slowing down Giannis Antetokounmpo and had monstrous games at the other end; winning the series for his team against the Sixers, averaging huge numbers and remaining the undisputed Playoffs MVP so far. He is going full-throttle into another Final series, hoping to match his performance in 2014 where he excelled (and won MVP) with the San Antonio Spurs.
The undrafted point guard has been shooting lights out as of late, becoming the ultimate X-Factor in the series against the Bucks. He’s been playing the best basketball of his young career and is proving to be crucial for his team when it comes down to the wire. Fun fact is that his shooting hot streak (14-17 of his three-pointers made) has started since the birth of his son, Fred Jr!
Another year making it into an All-NBA 1st Team, Steph couldn’t be missing out on this list either, especially when he showed the world what he is capable of when given the keys of the Warriors’ offense. He’s had some enormous games against the Blazers and now looks forward to adding a Finals MVP to an already stacked list of honours.
Draymond has been stellar providing cover for both Durant and Cousins, with the averages of a triple-double accompanying him in the Western Conference Finals. He is the definition of a “glue-guy”, bringing this team’s chemistry to another level - with him and Curry becoming the first pair to get a Triple Double in a Playoff game together.
Where to find betting value
Under Steve Kerr the Warriors have shown remarkable all-time greatness and persistence, with out of the world chemistry, ball movement and efficiency. And despite being plagued with injuries, the few extra days of rest they’ve had can be crucial in making the difference here.
The Raptors are coming straight from two series won in seven and six games, of which they played with a small rotation. They need role players like VanVleet and Powell to stay hot throughout the whole series, but definitely fancy their chances facing a team missing Kevin Durant - especially as they have the home-court advantage.
All in all, this year should make it a three-peat for Steve Kerr’s squad, with a 4-2 series score holding some great value with the Warriors playing Game 6 in Oracle Arena.
Game 1 in Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena should set the tone with a break early on in the series. Pick Golden State to win @1.99
In terms of individual player future bets, Kawhi Leonard is heavily expected to end the Finals as Series leader in points. He is already averaging 31.2 in the Playoffs, and playing against a Warriors team that could potentially have Kevin Durant back at some point (resulting in more of a balanced scoring distribution for Golden State) means he will be in line for a huge workload offensively, and that should translate into lots of points scored.
Don’t miss out on a moment of the action on court as the 2019 season comes to a close. Head over to our sportsbook and make your NBA Finals predictions today.