Warriors Pursuit of History: An Oddsmakers Perspective
For almost the entirety of the 2015-16 NBA season, the central storyline has revolved around the Golden State Warriors pursuit of history. After winning the championship last season, the Warriors exploded out of the gate winning 24 consecutive games to start the season. This red-hot start prompted basketball fans worldwide to question how this team compared to the legendary teams of yesteryear.
The 1995-96 Chicago Bulls were the first team in NBA history to win 70 games, finishing the year with a 72-10 record. Led by Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Toni Kukoc, this was one of the most dominant rosters ever assembled. They lost only two home games all season and led the league with a +12.2 point per game differential en route to their fourth NBA title in six seasons. It was an unprecedented accomplishment…until now.
With only five games remaining this season, the Warriors boast an incredible 69-8 record. That means three wins will tie them for the most regular season wins in NBA history, while four wins will give them sole possession of the record. On Monday morning, the Westgate Superbook posted the odds of Golden State winning at least 73 games with “Yes” listed at -380 at “No” listed at +320.
Golden St Warriors win 73 or more games in 2015-16 regular season?
— Jeff Sherman (@golfodds) April 4, 2016
This prop bet was first offered back on November 12, only two weeks into the season. After winning their first nine games, TopBet listed Golden State at +300 to win at least 73 games during the regular season. By the time their winning streak reached 23 games, the Warriors were listed at +150 to set the regular season wins record.
The table below displays the Warriors odds of winning at least 73 games throughout the season. We should note that this table includes odds from 5Dimes, Bovada, TopBet and the Las Vegas based Westgate Superbook.
It’s interesting to see that oddsmakers didn’t list “Yes” as the favorite until January 8 when the Warriors (-115) were sitting on a 33-2 record. Those odds continued to improve, eventually ballooning to -900 on March 31 when the Warriors were 68-8.
On April 1 the Celtics, who closed as 11.5-point underdogs, shocked the world by defeating the Warriors and ending their 54-game home winning streak. This massive upset caused Golden State’s odds of winning at least 73 games to plummet from -900 to -260. After defeating Portland in their subsequent game, those odds jumped from -260 to -380. When we account for juice, we find that there’s an implied probability of 77.8% that Golden State will win at least 73 games.
Just days later, the Minnesota Timberwolves shocked the basketball world by handing the Warriors their second home loss in their last three games. This was particularly surprising since the Warriors had won 114 consecutive games in which they possessed a lead of at least 15-points. They had also won 46 straight conference games at home.
The Timberwolves, who closed +14 on the spread and +1479 on the moneyline, upset the Warriors 124-117 last night. (via @PinnacleSports)
— Sports Insights (@SportsInsights) April 6, 2016
Tuesday’s loss means that the Warriors need to win at all four of their remaining regular season games to set the record, and their schedule is hardly a cakewalk. Golden State will play four games against playoff teams with two games against the Spurs and two games against the Grizzlies. Their April 10th tilt in San Antonio is particularly daunting since the Spurs have gone 39-0 at home this season.
Back on March 19th, Golden State closed +4.5 on the spread and +170 on the moneyline for their game in San Antonio. We would expect that the Warriors will once again be underdogs on April 10th unless the ever-unpredictable Gregg Popovich decides to rest his starters.
The list below displays the Warriors remaining schedule:
- Thursday, April 7: vs. San Antonio
- Saturday, April 9: at Memphis
- Sunday April 10: at San Antonio
- Wednesday, April 13: vs. Memphis
Pinnacle, one of the market-setting sportsbooks, was the first major oddsmaker to update these odds. Following the Warriors unexpected loss to the Timberwolves, Golden State’s odds of winning at least 73 games this season swung dramatically from -140 to +208. The -140 price at Pinnacle came in stark contrast to the Westgate, where “Yes” was listed at -380.
It’s also interesting to note that this marks the first time there has been plus money on “Yes” since December. After accounting for the juice, we find that there’s an implied probability of 30.4% that the Warriors will win all four of their remaining games.
Do you think that Golden State will set the record? Can the Warriors end the Spurs home winning streak? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below.