How Kevin Durant’s Injury Impacts Warriors Spreads, Series and Title Odds

How Kevin Durant’s Injury Impacts Warriors Spreads, Series and Title Odds article feature image
Credit:

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kevin Durant.

  • Kevin Durant will miss the rest of the Warriors-Rockets series after sustaining a calf injury in Game 5.
  • We contacted Mike Young from CG Technology in Las Vegas to get his opinion on Durant's value to the spread, as well as how his injury has impacted series prices and NBA title odds.

Last year in the Western Conference Finals, Chris Paul went down late in Game 5 with a hamstring injury that would cost him the remainder of the series. Though the Rockets took a 3-2 lead, they’d lose Game 6 in Golden State and Game 7 at home to blow a chance at the finals.

This year, the script has been flipped. Seriously, almost the exact opposite thing has happened.

Kevin Durant injured his calf last night in Golden State’s Game 5 victory and will miss the remainder of the series against the Rockets. Houston has an excellent chance to tie the series at home on Friday, and, if the prophecy holds true, could topple Golden State’s hopes and dreams at Oracle in Game 7.

So just how important is KD when it comes to betting?

Kevin Durant Spread Value

It’s up for debate as to who is the best — or at least most important — Warrior when it comes to spread value. Before the season began, some oddsmakers believed Steph Curry was the most valuable, while others felt it was Durant.

Given the team’s overall talent, none of their players were worth more than four points to the spread. While guys like LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Giannis Antetokounmpo were worth five points or potentially more this season, they didn’t have the cast of players to could step up and fill the void like Golden State does.

I don’t think I’m telling any tall tales when I say the pre-Durant Warriors were a decent team. Nevertheless, Durant had been playing some of his best basketball with the Warriors leading up to the injury and will surely be missed.

For comparison’s sake, Houston opened at -4 and closed at -3.5 in a crucial “must-win” Game 3 on Saturday. With a little pressure off their backs, the Rockets opened at -2 and closed at -1 in Monday’s Game 4.

For Game 6, which is literally a must-win game rather than a figurative must-win game, they opened at -5.5 early on at a handful of books and have already received quite a bit of action, moving up to -7 and even -7.5 in some spots.

Is Durant worth that much or are folks overreacting?

I spoke with Mike Young of CG Technology in Las Vegas regarding the current situation.

“Our risk team opened the Game 6 line at -7 and has seen sharp action on both sides, settling in at HOU -7.5 at the moment. Based on that, we can say Kevin Durant is worth 3-4 points to the spread.”

Before the season began, Young was in the boat that Curry had slightly more value than Durant, saying, “As incredible as Kevin Durant is, Curry’s the engine of that offense. His ability to space the floor, move and get open off ball is at such an elite level, there’s naturally a greater drop off in play from the team as a whole when, say, Quinn Cook is starting for him in the regular season.”

Regarding his value in this series in particular, Young explained, “Kevin Durant is more valuable to the Warriors in this series because, when he plays, Houston’s defense forces Golden State to play iso-heavy and through Durant more — especially when he gets a switch on a smaller defender. In general, the data supports Curry being more valuable to the team relative to Durant when they’re injured.”

Warriors-Rockets Series Odds

For those of you thinking Houston is a lock for Game 6, you may be interested in getting down on the Rockets’ series price.

Entering Game 5, Golden State was -250 to Houston’s +200. After a pivotal Game 5 win, its chances of winning the series have improved by … 0.0%!

That’s right, Golden State’s odds to win the series are right back at -250, though they didn’t open there originally.

“After the conclusion of game 5, CG’s risk team opened the series price for Game 6 at GSW -330. It has since moved to -250, exactly where it was before tip of Game 5. That series price peaked at GSW -700 before tip of Game 3.”

Butwhat if Durant hadn’t gotten hurt?

“For a Golden State squad with a healthy Durant, an apt comparison right now is the Raptors. The series price was similar prior to Game 1 with both teams being over -200 favorites. Now, Toronto is up 3-2, on the road for Game 6, and -750 to win their series against Philadelphia. Of course, the HOU-GSW series has seen much tighter margins, and Golden State is not and, even with a healthy Durant, would not be coming off a 36-point win in Game 5. So I doubt it would be that high, but somewhere in the -450-500 range — they were -430 to beat HOU prior Game 4, so higher than that I have to imagine.”

NBA Championship Odds

As you all likely know, the Warriors have been massive NBA title favorites all season long. While a big favorite in football or baseball might be in the +400 range, Golden State has been an odds-on favorite at most books all season and entered the postseason at -200.

“The Warriors’ title odds sit at -110 currently, the best value Golden State futures bettors have seen all season. NBA title odds peaked at -220 before Game 3 vs HOU. Imagine we’ll continue to see Milwaukee money rolling in until we learn Kevin Durant’s status for the rest of the postseason.”

When asked what Golden State’s odds would be at sans injury, Young had similar things to say as he did about their series price.

“As far as their projected title odds, as I mentioned they were -220 before game 3, so I imagine slightly below that number.”