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NBA Finals predictions: Title favorites and most likely MVP

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Stephen A.: 'I have to give Golden State the edge' vs. Raptors (1:35)

Stephen A. Smith gives his NBA Finals prediction after the Raptors defeat the Bucks to earn a chance to take down the defending champion Warriors. (1:35)

How likely are the Toronto Raptors to take down the Golden State Warriors in the 2019 NBA Finals?

Heading into Game 1 at Scotiabank Arena on Thursday night (9 p.m. ET, ABC), the ESPN Forecast panel has made its predictions for the series.

How much of a favorite should the Warriors be? How long is this series going to go? And which player is most likely to win Finals MVP?

Dive into the answers here.

More: NBA Finals preview | 5-on-5: Experts debate


Warriors vs. Raptors

The Warriors winning their fourth title in five years -- on their home court in Game 6 -- is the most popular pick here, though our panel and the statistical models predict this series to be much closer than the 2018 NBA Finals between Golden State and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Last season, the forecast gave the Warriors an 81 percent chance to win -- in between the odds of BPI (91 percent) and FiveThirtyEight (77 percent). This year, the statistical models project a much more even matchup.

Likelihood of winning series

More:

Game 1: Thursday | 9 p.m. ET, ABC

Which player will win Finals MVP?

Are we on track for a new Finals MVP?

Stephen Curry and Draymond Green are the two favorites, according to our forecast, with Kevin Durant's return still up in the air as he recovers from a calf injury. Of course, the Raptors winning the series would put Kawhi Leonard in pole position to take home his second Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP Award trophy.

ESPN Forecast (total points)

Voters ranked their top three choices, with 210 being the maximum potential point total.

  1. ‚ÄčStephen Curry: 192 points

  2. Draymond Green: 78 points

  3. Kawhi Leonard: 51 points

  4. Klay Thompson: 40 points

  5. Kevin Durant: 17 points

Image credits: Mark Blinch/NBAE/Getty Images; Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports