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NBA Playoffs 2018: Odds that the Rockets win the NBA title

We checked out a couple of different sources, and the Rockets are near or at the top of all of them.

NBA: Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

With the start of the NBA playoffs just a day away, and the start of the first-round series between the Houston Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves just two days from now, it’s time to check in on the odds the Rockets have of coming home with that hardware.

First, aggregation and analytics site FiveThirtyEight has updated their favorites to win the NBA title, and the Rockets are leading the pack.

They far and away have the highest chance of winning the ‘ship, coming in at a scorching 44 percent probability. That’s more than double the percentage of the second-favorite Toronto Raptors, who come in at just 17 percent. The only other team in double digit percentage is surprisingly the Philadelphia 76ers, who come in at 11 percent.

Perhaps even more surprising is that the defending champion Golden State Warriors only have a 4 percent chance at winning the title, just the seventh-

highest number. That’s quite the fall for FiveThirtyEight’s (and everyone’s) beginning-of-the-year favorite, and is the same number that their arch-rival Cleveland Cavaliers have currently as well.

Also, the Rockets are listed as having a 69 percent chance of making the Conference Finals and a 57 percent chance of making the Finals.

FiveThirtyEight runs these projections off their own ELO ratings, which is a combination of several metrics, including RPM and box plus-minus, along with biographical information and history. FiveThirtyEight defines ELO as a metric that “identifies similar players throughout NBA history and uses them to develop a probabilistic forecast of what a current NBA player’s future might look like.”

But they’re not the only one setting expectations for the NBA Playoffs. Las Vegas handles that as well, and there seems to be two current trains of thought out there in the sports betting land.

First, betting sites Bovada and Oddsshark and Vegas Insider still have the Warriors as the title favorites, listing them at 7/5 odds to win the title. The Rockets are the second-best bet, coming in at 3/2. Other contenders are the Cavs at 17/2, the Raptors at 13/1 and the 76ers at 16/1.

The second school of thought has our boys in red the Larry O’Brien favorites. SportsBettingDime have Houston and Golden State tied at the top with 11/5 odds. Then come the Cavs at 8/1, the Raptors at 13/1 and the 76ers at 19/1.

The Rockets versus Cavaliers is the most likely Finals matchup in their opinions, tied with Warriors versus Cavs at 19/4, and James Harden has the best chance to finish with highest scoring single playoff game at 8/1 odds. LeBron James is second at 9/1, followed by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook both at 10/1.

Anyway you slice it, either by Vegas or by analytics, the Rockets are one of your best bets to be the last team standing. Now let’s keep our fingers crossed that reality matches the odds.