Opinion: The Odds of the Golden State Warriors Making the Finals are Profoundly Worse than Sportsbooks Believe

  • The Warriors are third behind the Suns and Nuggets in Western Conference odds
  • Golden State is average or below average in both offensive and defensive rating
  • Stephen Curry’s presence has not allowed the team to improve its overall play
  • The Warriors are not guaranteed to survive the play-in if they fall into it
Golden State Warriors championship parade
The Golden State Warriors are third in odds to win the West despite dubious precedent. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Odds the Golden State Warriors make the Finals

The Golden State Warriors are third in the list of odds to win the Western Conference and advance to the NBA Finals against all logic.

Yes, the reigning NBA champions, who are fifth in the West and have an opportunity to move up even further with Kevin Durant’s freakish injury and Ja Morant’s indefinite suspension, are nothing more than pie in the sky. 

third-most likely to win the West at +600

DraftKings is one of several major sportsbooks that have the Dubs as the third-most likely to win the West at +600, behind the Phoenix Suns (+230) and Denver Nuggets (+280). While many casual bettors see this as a great value bet, there is no value for losers, and that’s what the Warriors are destined to become.

The dynasty is over

The Warriors dynasty started in 2015 when they broke through and won their first title in the modern era by defeating LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were both injured before or during the six-game series, but regardless, the Warriors had arrived. 

Golden State followed up that win by taking home three of the next four Larry O’Brien trophies and returned to the promised land in 2022 with a 4-2 win over the Boston Celtics. Stephen Curry won his first Finals MVP award as the Celtics’ youth fell victim to the Warriors’ experience and championship mettle.

They are just 7-26 away from home, a 21.2% win rate.

This year, however, everything has changed for the Warriors. They are just 7-26 away from home, a 21.2% win rate. For comparison, the team with the worst road record to reach the NBA Finals in modern history, the 1981 Houston Rockets, went 15-26 on the road—a 36.6% win rate.

Golden State sitting in the fifth seed also means that it will likely be on the road in every playoff series in which it participates during the upcoming playoffs. Having a history of winning one of every five road games and being asked to win four straight best-of-seven series where four games are on the road would be quite the order.

That’s just the tip of the unfortunate iceberg. The Warriors are only 20-21 with their best player, Steph Curry, in the lineup. That means they are 14-12 and playing better without him, which is almost unfathomable seeing as he has been the engine of this dynasty from its inception.

Clear regression

The Warriors’ case doesn’t get any better when analyzing the numbers. They are only 18th in defensive rating (113.6), which is nowhere near where they were in the four years they won chips. 

They were first in 2015, second in 2017, 11th in 2018 (but they had Durant), and first in 2022. The team with the worst defensive rating to win an NBA championship, for comparison, is the 2020-21 Milwaukee Bucks, who ranked 10th in the league with a 111.4 rating. 

It’s not as if the Warriors have an unstoppable offense either—they are just 15th in offensive rating (114), which is noticeably behind the Bucks’ mark of 117.2 during the same 2020-21 season. 

the Warriors are arguably more likely to miss the playoffs than they are to win the conference finals

To take it one step further, the Warriors are arguably more likely to miss the playoffs than they are to win the conference finals. They are only one and a half games above the 10th seed, the last to make the play-in tournament, and two games from the 11th seed, the first to miss the postseason. Tankathon ranks the Warriors’ remaining schedule as the eighth-hardest in the league, and eight of their 15 games are on the road.

There’s also no guarantee that the Warriors win their play-in game if they end up having to play one. In 2020-21, they lost to the young Memphis Grizzlies and the experienced Los Angeles Lakers in consecutive games to go flaming out of the postseason before the bracket even started.

The Warriors are big in name, but they have been small on the court this season. They would need to defy all modern precedents to pull off what sportsbooks are suggesting they have a great shot of doing.

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