Even though they can’t line up on the court, that doesn’t mean Las Vegas can’t have some fun comparing them to another all-time great team.
ESPN spoke with seven Vegas bookmakers and asked them to set the odds in a game and series between last year’s Golden State team and Michael Jordan‘s 1995-96 Chicago Bulls squad that went 72-10 en route to an NBA title.
Five of the six 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 -2 at William Hill US (per Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading, William Hill US).
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, did not offer a spread for the hypothetical showdown but said it would be a matter of contrasting styles and rules as well.
“The biggest factor is what rules is [the] game being played under,” Holt told ESPN in an email. “Being able to hand check would make the Bulls [the] favorite and their roster was built for that. In the no-handcheck 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, and 34-47-1 this regular season.
The 2017-18 Warriors team cashed tickets a -200 favorite to repeat (at Westgate), but struggled in the Western Conference playoffs, including being taken to seven games by the Houston Rockets. They are current +120 at Westgate to win a third straight title.