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Warriors rare odds-on favorite to win NBA title

The Associated Press
Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors celebrates with the Western Conference Championship Trophy after defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Seven of the Western Conference Finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs.

Kevin Durant. Steph Curry. Draymond Green. Add them together, and they are a rare “odds-on” favorite to win the NBA title.

The Golden State Warriors have 2-3 odds — meaning for $150 wagered, a person would receive $100 – according to vegasinsider.com. Sports betting experts cannot find another team that was an odds-on favorite to start the year, writes ESPN’s David Purdum.

LeBron James and the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers have 13-4 odds, followed by San Antonio at 11/1.

The Detroit Pistons have 150-1 odds.

As for the Warriors, not everyone is convinced about their prominence. In Charles Barkley’s mind, the Warriors are still a flawed team.

“Let me say this: I still think they got some of the same issues this year with that team,” Barkley said Tuesday to the Associated Press.  “Can they rebound the ball? They’re going to still be shooting jumpers. They’re not going to get any low-post scoring. Can that type of play hold up through the rigors of the NBA playoffs? I’m still going to say the same thing I’ve always said: No.”

The Warriors won a record 73 games in the regular season but blew a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals and lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Golden State then signed Durant, the former NBA MVP, in the offseason.

That’s made the Warriors the favorites to regain the title they won in 2015, though Barkley said they were “lucky” then because their road was filled with teams weakened by injuries. Cleveland was already without Kevin Love in those Finals and lost Kyrie Irving near the end of Game 1.

The Cavs were healthy last year, and Barkley picked them to beat the Warriors.

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“When I told you they couldn’t play that little small ball and win a championship if everybody they played was healthy, that they’d wear down, and they did. I told you Cleveland was going to beat them and they did,” Barkley said during a lunch before TNT’s “Inside the NBA” studio team was elected to the Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

Barkley and the team will host their show Tuesday night in Cleveland outside Quicken Loans Arena, where the Cavaliers will receive their rings before facing New York in their season opener. The Warriors will play San Antonio in the nightcap of TNT’s doubleheader.

Barkley, a Hall of Fame player who never won a championship, was disappointed that Durant left Oklahoma City for an easier chance at a title with the star-studded Warriors, who have two-time MVP Curry and fellow All-Stars Klay Thompson and Green.

If they win, Barkley said, the title won’t mean as much to Durant as it would have in Oklahoma City, where he had played since the Thunder franchise moved from Seattle in 2008 after his rookie season. Durant has been booed in rival arenas since his decision and has angered some of his former fans with what appeared to be criticisms of Russell Westbrook and his former team.

“He’s made himself a villain by taking all these shots at Oklahoma City for no reason. There’s no reason for that,” Barkley said. “He left, he’s happy, shut up. When you’re taking shots at Russell and those guys, that’s not necessary.”