When to Bet Game 3 with Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant Injury News
Photo credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kevin Durant
- Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney are all uncertain for NBA Finals Game 3 on Wednesday night.
- When should bettors get in on the spread? How will it move when Durant's status is confirmed?
- Two of our NBA experts, Matt Moore and Justin Phan, go back and forth on this dilemma below.
Sportsbooks posted odds for NBA Finals Game 3 shortly after Game 2 ended, which was a bit surprising given three key players — Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney — are all uncertain for Wednesday’s affair.
The spread opened at Warriors -5.5 and has since been bet up to -6 or even -6.5 at a few books. The question is, though: When should bettors invest? Is it worth taking a shot on the Warriors now? Or will it move back down if Durant ultimately can’t go?
Two of our NBA experts, Matt Moore and Justin Phan, went back and forth over Slack today to hash out all of those questions…
Does the Spread Suggest Kevin Durant Is Playing?
Matt Moore: OK, so I feel like this line estimates KD will play in Game 3. The Warriors closed at +2 in Game 1 when it was expected they would win and +2 again in Game 2. Do we think a 6.5-point swing off the Warriors win and with a move to Oracle doesn’t include Durant playing?
I still don’t think you should get in now, considering how big of a swing KD is. Without him, I think this line is way too high. With him, I think it’s right on point. Do bettors need to try and get ahead of the news?
Justin Phan: Yeah, the Warriors have moved from -5.5 to -6 since open and are receiving a higher money percentage than bets percentage at the moment, so your KD theory seems to make sense. Except there hasn’t been any real indication that a Game 3 return is anywhere close to a certainty.
He still hadn’t been cleared for contact as of Sunday, and coach Steve Kerr only said it was “feasible” that he could play Wednesday if he’s able to practice on Tuesday. As of now, a Game 4 return appears more likely especially given the Warriors were able to steal a game in Toronto.
If you’re backing Toronto, I’d take +6.5 right now if it’s available, but with the line at +6 at most books, I could see the argument to wait. If KD ends up being ruled out, this line probably settles back to Warriors -5.5. If KD ends up playing, it likely ends up around -7.
So if you do the math and give KD a 20% chance to play on Wednesday (which I think is reasonable), the expected line comes in at -5.8. So you’re not losing out on that much by waiting, especially if you think there’s a decent chance he’ll be back in time.
One thing I wanted to get into: How big of an impact do you think KD will have on the Warriors in his first game back? If he’s back for Game 3, he’ll have had only one practice and no game action under his belt in exactly four weeks time. How many points to the spread is he really worth from the outset?
What Impact Will KD Have in His First Game Back?
Moore: I think immediately he’s worth two points in this matchup specifically. Without Durant, if you stymie the Warriors’ initial action, they don’t have a response to counter. They’re just trying to wing it or get out in transition.
Even in Game 2 we saw long, sustained offensive lulls from Golden State, including a 5:37 scoring drought to end the game. Durant solves all that. You can go to him and he immediately helps you get a few buckets just 1-on-1, even with Kawhi guarding him.
Kawhi’s another factor here. Having Durant to put on Leonard means the Warriors don’t have to help as early or as often, and it allows Draymond Green to play free safety, which worked really well in Game 2.
So specifically I think if KD is worth an average of say three points in a vacuum — which is on par with Paul George’s value to the Thunder, who rely on him more than the Warriors rely on KD — then in this matchup I think you can move it to two points based on the dynamics of personnel and how good Golden State is anyway.
Phan: Nick Nurse also can’t go box-and-1 with Durant on the floor!
Two points sounds about right to me. It provides the Warriors with a fail safe on offense and gives them such a huge safety net, especially with the injuries mounting up and their depth being tested. Klay and Looney’s injuries may not cost them any games, but those are two key pieces of their rotation who will likely not be 100 percent moving forward.
Let’s talk series price. The Warriors are somewhere around -275 to -300 at most books, which is still a better price than where they closed before the Finals started (-310). With KD’s imminent return, where do you think the price should be and do you think there’s any value on the current number?
Is There Any Value in the Current Series Price?
Moore: I feel like that’s still high. KD’s return I think tilts this series, but without him I think the Warriors should be at 2/1 and with him at around -250.
We’re talking about best of five now. Give the Warriors at least one bad game, the Raptors at least one bad game, and that’s best two of three. A great Warriors game, a great Raptors game, and a coin flip for that last one.
Now I don’t know if it goes seven because the sequence of when these things occur matters. But the point is that the best Raptors game will beat anything but the best Warriors game, and vice versa, and both have shown the ability to keep the other team from their best basketball.
I think there’s probably value on the Raptors, but I also think it’ll be best after Game 3, which I think the Warriors win. If you believe the Raptors will win the series, wait until after Game 3 because you’re either going to get a better price or the Raptors will have tilted the series heavily in their favor.
If I like the Raptors, I still think they can win Game 4 if they lose Game 3. I don’t think Game 3 is a must-win for them, is my key point.