Sunday, May 15, 2016

Air miles and odds

To nobody's surprise, the Cleveland Cavaliers swept the Detroit Pistons in the opening round of the playoffs. They had to fly once to Detroit and then back to Cleveland. Hardly more than puddle jumper flights.

Then the Cavs swept the Atlanta Hawks. One round trip team ticket from Cleveland to Atlanta and back. Maybe a two hour flight each way.

The Cavs have been resting for the last week or so waiting to see who their opponent would be in the Eastern Conference finals. Turns out it would be the Toronto Raptors.

It took the hosers from the north the full seven games to dispatch the Indianapolis Pacers in the opening round. Granted, it's not that far from Hoosierland to bottom of the barrel NHL hockey country on an airliner, but it was still several flights back and forth.

Then the Raptors got taken to the full seven game limit against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semis. Several more flights, and the distance between Toronto and Little Havana is quite a ways, even when zooming along at 500 MPH in the air. Likely about 3 hours each way. Plus all the hassle of buses to and from airports, checking into and out of motels, and having to deal with the dreaded media hounds away from home. It can't help but take its toll on some level.

Now the Raptors, fresh off their conquest of the Heat, have to turn around and fly to Cleveland. Not only are they ceding home court advantage going in, most have them as a decided underdog in the upcoming series against the Cavs.

The early odds are almost astounding. If one was to plop a C-note down on the Cavs winning the series, and they did, one could expect to net a profit of about 10 bucks. Very short odds.

Conversely, if one were to plop that same C-note down on the Raptors winning the series, and they did, one would walk away with roughly $700. Very long odds.

All the "experts" say the Raptors don't have a chance against the Cavs. Lebron and Co. will win the series in 5 games -- 6 max. And they very well might. This could finally be Cleveland's year.

But didn't those same experts long have a Golden State/San Antonio Western Conference final etched in stone? How did that work out?

Tell ya what. If yours truly was to plop down a C-note on this series -- and I might -- it wouldn't be on the Cavs. Even if they win as expected, who cares about netting a measly ten bucks? Much better to put it on the Raptors and likely kiss it good-bye. Eating a few more ramen noodles for a while won't be the end of the world.

But if the Raptors somehow pull off an upset and an extra $600 or so comes back, now we're talking some serious beer money and firing up the grill with GOOD stuff cooking for a few weeks.

It's worth a shot (though I gave those up a long time ago because they made me even dumber than I already am).

So OK. The Cavs will probably whack the Raptors. But ya never know. Injuries to key players can happen at any time. Ask the LA Clippers how it felt to suddenly be without their best two players only to go down to the Portland Trail Blazers in a series everybody on the planet was sure they would win. Stuff happens sometimes.

Yet the series that everybody wants to watch is the match-up between Golden State and Oklahoma City. Talent galore on both sides. But only one can win to move on.

By far, the Cleveland Cavaliers have had a much easier road so far in the east, while the west teams having been slugging it out. The GS/OKC series should be a fast-paced hard fought battle indeed. A slight edge has to go to the defending champ Warriors. They have home court advantage, posted the best regular season record ever and -- for now -- are healthy and rested as well.

But give me 7:1 odds against and I'm taking the Thunder every time. What's another Franklin? I'll catch up on the electric bill and Master Card next month.

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