The Golden State Warriors know all too well what can happen when a team looks too far ahead while up 2-0 in an NBA Finals.
But that doesn’t mean Las Vegas can’t have some fun comparing them to another all-time great team.
ESPN spoke with six Vegas bookmakers and asked them to set the odds in a game and series between this year’s Golden State and Michael Jordan‘s 1995-96 Chicago Bulls squad that went 72-10 en route to an NBA title.
Four of the five had the Warriors favored, from as high as -8 at the MGM (per Jay Rood, vice president of race and sports at MGM Resorts) to as low as -3 at the Wynn (per Johnny Avello, sportsbook manager at the Wynn).
Chris Andrews, sportsbook director at South Point, wasn’t crazy about the comparison but said “it would have to be pretty close to pick-em, point spread and series. It would depend on [which team] could force its style on the other.”
Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook manager Jeff Sherman set the line at Golden State -6.5 and a series price of Chicago +300 and Golden State -360.
“It’s a different era now, and today’s game is played at a pace unlike in the 1990s,” Sherman told ESPN. “Players are bigger, faster and stronger than back then.”
Aaron Kessler from the Golden Nugget also favored the Warriors, at -4.5.
Matthew Holt, COO at CG Analytics, said it would be a matter of contrasting styles and rules as well.
“The biggest factor is what rules is game being played under,” Holt told ESPN in an email. “Being able to hand check would make the Bulls favorite and their roster was built for that. In the no-hand check era the Warriors’ current roster is much better suited and would have some serious speed and shooter advantages at several key positions.”
The 1995-96 Bulls went 46-33-1 against the spread during the regular season. (Two games had no line, according to game archives at sports betting website Covers.com.) The Warriors went 40-39-3 against the spread during the 2016-17 regular season.
Golden State has been a favorite in every postseason game this year and opened at Westgate as a 2-point favorite for Game 3 at Cleveland. That line has already been bet up to -3.