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Bettor’s NBA West Top 5 Report: Clippers Climb to Top Spot

There’s a chance that the Western Conference race will give us a monumental race for seeding in the final weeks of the season. The betting lines for NBA action will be scrutinized as four (maybe five) teams fight it out for the top spot and homecourt advantage. Let’s size up the current state of the incredibly tight race.


Bettor’s NBA West Top 5 Report: Clippers Climb to Top Spot
Nikola Jokic #15 and Aaron Gordon #50 of the Denver Nuggets | Sarah Stier/Getty Images/AFP

1. Los Angeles Clippers (+300 to Win Western Conference)

We’ve seen enough. They’re still not technically atop the conference but it just feels like a matter of time for the team with an NBA-best 26-5 record since they started to put it all together at the beginning of December.

The current winning streak is up to four games, all while production teams assemble and then de-assemble the Grammy stage at Crypto.com Arena, which has forced this team to spend nearly two weeks on the road.

Los Angeles went 6-1 on the trip, winning with defense at times (it held the Celtics to 96 points and the Heat to 95) and playing the run-and-gun game as well, piling up 149 points in a win at Atlanta on Monday.

Reigning Western Conference Player of the Week Kawhi Leonard scored 36 points against the Hawks and is playing at an MVP-like level. Remember, this is a two-time champion who knows what it takes to get to the promised land, and he just might guide his fellow Hall of Famers over the hump.

2. Denver Nuggets (+200 to Win Western Conference)

They’re doing just fine, there is nothing to warrant the drop to second in the rankings this week aside from playing in the same conference as the Clippers. There was a recent stinker in Madison Square Garden and then a narrow loss at Oklahoma City with Nikola Jokic sitting on the sidelines.

Nothing to worry about for one of the league’s healthiest groups that enters Tuesday just a half-game out in the West standings.

We would like to see the Nuggets build up their bench with a move or two. They often have lulls when it’s time for the second unit to come along, ranking 25th in the NBA with a minus-1.1 point differential in the second quarter. Denver also ranks 25th in bench scoring (16.0 points).

They weren’t all that much better during last season’s title run (17.2 points), but it felt a bit more stable beyond the incredible starting five. Regardless of whether they make a move in this department or not, the Nuggets remain a favorite among NBA playoff odds at the sportsbook.

3. Minnesota Timberwolves (+900)

You can flip a coin between Minnesota and Oklahoma City. They’re tied atop the West with identical 35-15 records. They’ve split their four games against one another, both teams going 1-1 at home.

We simply kept Minnesota here because they were here last week and switching them around would involve a rigorous cut-and-paste job. Nobody wants to do that. In reality, we still like the Timberwolves just a smidge more given their experience.

Minnesota is a tiny bit more of a longshot to win the conference and we think it is still a great addition to an NBA bet slip. The team begins a five-game road trip on Tuesday that includes a visit to the Clippers. If they roll through this excursion, those long-term odds will only improve.

4. Oklahoma City Thunder (+800)

After consecutive losses to Detroit and Minnesota, the Thunder have reeled off three straight wins. One came against a Jokic-less Nuggets squad, another was against lowly Charlotte, and the third required two overtimes to survive Toronto at home.

That’s not a knock on the Thunder at all. They took care of business when they needed to take care of business. The team’s remarkable offensive attack seems to just get better with time. Here are OKC’s field-goal percentages by month: October (four games) – 48.5, November – 49.8, December – 50.3, January – 50.5, February (two games) – 51.9.

That’s a remarkable trend, as is the team’s 31-18-1 record against the NBA bet line, the best in the West.

5. Phoenix Suns (+600)

One of a handful of teams that have been on exceptionally long road trips (both LA teams, Sacramento to name a few), Phoenix finished its seven-game sojourn with a 28-point win at Washington on Sunday.

The reward is 10 of the next 14 games at home, where the Suns can try to chip away at that quartet atop the West. They enter Tuesday six games out, 5½ behind the Clippers and Nuggets.

The big development with Phoenix over the past month or so has been the health and play of Bradley Beal, who scored 43 points in a return to D.C. on Sunday, reminding fans in the capital what they lost. Perhaps more importantly, it was his 20th straight appearance, a huge development for a team that needed to take some pressure off Kevin Durant and Devin Booker.



Questions Of The Day

Which NBA game stands out on Tuesday’s schedule?

Phoenix finally returns home to host the road-weary Milwaukee Bucks. We expect the Suns to cruise.

Which team outside the top five is threatening to rise in the Western Conference?

The Lakers have quietly won eight of their last 12 and have a boatload of home games coming up. They could very well be in the mix for one of those top six spots (avoiding a play-in) when the dust settles.

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