Many NBA pundits and bettors went into the 2016 postseason believing the only thing that could derail the Golden State Warriors historical run would be an injury to presumed-MVP Steph Curry or another key player. Unfortunately, four games into the playoffs, Golden State's worst nightmare may have become a reality. Early in the second quarter of Golden State's Game 4 blowout victory over the Houston Rockets, Curry, who already missed two games because of an ankle injury, slipped and fell to the court, clutching his knee in pain. The sharpshooter never returned to the game and was later diagnosed with a sprained right MCL (which will require at least two weeks of rest).
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With Curry out, the NBA pecking order has been thrown into chaos with every team in the West now believing they have a shot to knock off the defending champions. For bettors, those futures wagers placed before the beginning of the playoffs might not hold as much value. However, before the collective basketball world starts to panic, let's take a closer look at the Warriors, the ever-changing championship odds and figure out if the team is in any trouble going forward.
Golden State's Updated Championship Odds
Original Odds: -140
Updated Odds: +140
Golden State took a big hit with its futures odds, but the squad was such a huge favorite to begin with that the new line might only bring in more action on the team. With an updated line at +140, Golden State still clocks in as the favorite to win the NBA title even though Curry may miss two to three weeks of action. The second round of the postseason is set to start at the end of April (depending on how long each series goes), and if the team's timelines are correct, the Warriors could see Curry return late in the second round. The conference finals and a presumed matchup against the 67-win San Antonio Spurs would not happen until mid-May (three weeks from now).
Golden State, at the moment, is still up three games to one against the Rockets, and the team has more than enough talent to finish off a dysfunctional and listless Houston squad who limped into the No. 8 seed. The big question is whether the Warriors have enough talent to hold the ship together against an experienced and talented Los Angeles Clippers squad in the second round.
Can Golden State beat Los Angeles without Curry?
The Warriors still have enough talent without Curry in the lineup to beat the Clippers. Remember, the defending champions will still have home-court advantage and experienced leaders in Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala. However, this matchup becomes much more intriguing and opens the door for Los Angeles to actually pull off an upset. The Clippers had little chance of beating the Warriors in a seven-game series with Curry in the lineup (Los Angeles went 0-4 against the champs during the regular season), but without Curry Los Angeles will probably end up a small underdog with loads of value. To answer the question directly, Golden State can still beat the Clipper without Curry, but the Clippers can do the same to Golden State. If Curry does not return, expect this matchup to a 50/50 situation.
Can Golden State beat San Antonio without Curry?
If Golden State manages to beat Los Angeles without Curry, this is where the situation becomes dire. Injury timelines are not an exact science, and three weeks can as easily be five weeks. Bettors should also factor in how Curry returned early from an ankle injury only to hurt his knee. Golden State may be content to keep the MVP out for at least a month or more, but the issue is they may have lost to the Spurs even with Curry in the lineup and probably can't beat them without Curry.
The two key questions are: is Golden State in trouble and should bettors look to wager on the new futures line? To answer the first question, yes Golden State is in trouble even if Curry does return in two weeks. However, to answer the second question, they are not in so much trouble to make getting +140 a bad wager. Bettors may want to give the updated futures odds a long look because Golden State now has value at +140 (just in case Curry does return later in the postseason).
Read more articles by George Monroy
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