San Francisco Chronicle

Warriors still the favorite for 2017 NBA championsh­ip

- By Michael Shapiro Michael Shapiro (www.michael is author of “A Sense of Place.” Twitter: @shapiro writes

Despite its collapse in the NBA Finals, Golden State is still the favorite to win the 2017 NBA title, according to Johnny Avello, the sports book director for the Wynn Las Vegas.

“They’re going to rebound,” Avello said. “They have Curry and a core of good players, but the West is more difficult than East. You’ve got to overcome the Thunder, the Clippers and the Spurs.”

Last year after the Warriors won the 2015 title, they were not the favorites to win it all in 2016 — the Cleveland Cavaliers were. And though it looked bleak for Cleveland after the Warriors went up 3-1 in the Finals, Las Vegas ultimately got it right, and I’m sure Warriors fans are now hoping Sin City is on target for 2017 as well.

At Wynn this week, the Warriors were 12:5 to win the next title, meaning a $50 bet on them would yield $120. Cleveland is right behind the Warriors at 5:2. Next are the Spurs at 5:1, the Thunder at 7:1 and the Clippers at 12:1. The bookmakers don’t expect Cleveland to face much of a challenge in the East — the closest contenders are the Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics and Miami Heat, all at 25:1.

Moving to hockey, the San Jose Sharks are 12:1 to win the 2017 Stanley Cup after losing this month in the Stanley Cup Finals to the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are 8:1 to win the NHL title next year. The favorite is the Chicago Blackhawks at 11:2.

“The odds in hockey are so different than in the NBA,” Avello said. “The odds are tighter, and that’s because some teams in the NBA are just not going to win. The Sacramento Kings (125:1) are not going to win the (NBA) title. In hockey, it’s possible that the Vancouver Canucks, who are 100:1, could win it all.”

Noting that two Bay Area teams were in the Finals this month, Avello contrasted their seasons.

“In sports you’ve got to have it all going towards the end. You should have a nice season … then turn it up a notch for the playoffs. I think the Sharks played pretty well all year and got to the playoffs and took their game up a notch,” he said.

“If you’re having a great season,” like the Warriors, who set the record for regular-season wins, “sometimes it doesn’t work for you at the end,” Avello added. “It’s hard to sustain what you’ve started.”

But the Warriors’ implosion during the Finals didn’t move the odds much for 2017.

“I think they’ll be good again,” Avello said. “This takes a little bit of heart out of you, but by the time they start playing again next year this will be forgotten.”

Forgotten? Perhaps by the oddsmakers, but not by Warriors fans.

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