Neither the Eastern Conference Finals nor the Western Conference appears likely to be lopsided. In the East, an inconsistent Cavaliers team that swept the Raptors after struggling with the Pacers will meet a scrappy Celtics team that dispensed the Sixers in five games. In the West meanwhile, the juggernaut Warriors and Rockets will meet in one of the most highly anticipated playoff series in years.
And yet despite what looks like relative parity, there doesn’t seem to be much question about who will emerge from the two series. In fact, just about every NBA analyst on the internet seems to be forecasting a fourth straight year of a Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals.
On CBS Sports, all five writers picked the Warriors in the West, while four of five went with the Cavaliers in the East. Bleacher Report has the Cavs and Warriors. So does Sporting News. And on ESPN, 19 of 22 experts picked the Warriors, while a different 19 of 22 picked the Cavs. In total, that leaves 26 of 29 writers across those sites betting on the Warriors and 25 of 29 going with the Cavs. Not a single analyst picked upsets in both conference-finals series.
Vegas is also all-in on the Warriors and Cavs, with sportsbooks comfortably favoring Golden State and Cleveland (even while giving Houston the second-best odds to win it all of the four teams remaining). The CBS Sportsline gambling service gives the Warriors a 66.7 percent chance of advancing and the Cavs a 75 percent chance.
And for good measure, a series of 2K Sports simulations had the Warriors winning their series 61 percent of the time and the Cavs advancing in theirs 95 percent of the time.
None of this is to say there are no dissenting opinions. FiveThirtyEight, which has been bullish on the Rockets all season long, gives Houston a whopping 79 percent chance to make the Finals and a 69 percent chance to win it all. But they do have the Cavs as favorites against the Celtics, because let’s not get crazy here.