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Bettor’s NBA West Top 5 Report: Jokic Keeps Nuggets #1

The West is just wild. A back-and-forth three-team race for the No. 1 seed, five other teams separated by 3½ games fighting to stay out of the Play-In, and then the Lakers and Warriors angling for homecourt advantage in a likely No. 9 vs No. 10 matchup to keep their season alive.

It’s a wonderful time to bet NBA online. Before you do so, take a look at what’s going on with the top teams in the loaded West.

Bettor’s NBA West Top 5 Report: Jokic Keeps Nuggets #1
Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets | Amanda Loman/Getty Images/AFP

1. Denver Nuggets

Didn’t you hear? Third place is the new first place.

The Nuggets woke up Tuesday in third place in the West, two days after their winning streak came to an end with this majestic game-winner by Kyrie Irving.


When you’re on the road, losing to one of the hottest teams in the league on a left-handed runner by a Hall of Fame guard who’s one of the few to ever play that game that could’ve pulled that off, we’ll cut you some slack.

Coupled with a win for Oklahoma City over the weekend and a few in a row for Minnesota, Denver has fallen behind its two competitors for the time being. But we’re still just as bullish on their NBA Finals odds as anyone else.

Another massive test arrives Tuesday night in the form of a road game against the Timberwolves, the first of three between these two teams that will go a long way toward determining that top seed.

2. Oklahoma City Thunder

The Thunder are kicking their feet up right now, taking in some early spring sunshine and gearing up for a final push. They last played Saturday at Memphis and won’t play again until Wednesday night vs Utah, enjoying a rare three full days of rest between games against also-rans in the West.

Barring an unlikely Utah win on Wednesday, Oklahoma City should be in first place in the conference after that one as it stares at a more difficult stretch. Eight of the next 10 games will be on the road and there will be three back-to-backs in a busy 12-game span. In fact, going into the game the Thunder will be one of just four NBA teams to have played 67 games…all others will be at 68 or 69.

It’s a tiny difference, but having a busier stretch run than most and having it filled with roadies – including Boston, Milwaukee, New Orleans, New York, and Indiana – won’t make it easy on this uber-talented crew.

3. Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves have a very different scenario than the Thunder as they look at the final few weeks. They just completed a 4-2 road trip in which one loss came in overtime and another at the Lakers with Rudy Gobert sidelined.

Starting with the visit from Denver on Tuesday, Minnesota has seven of its next eight in the Target Center. It is feeling pretty good about itself entering the stretch after scoring double-digit wins at the Clippers and two at the Jazz to finish the trip.

All this despite the injury list being pretty beefy. Gobert has missed three of the last four and his backup, Naz Reid, had to leave the last Utah game at halftime due to a head injury. They’re both day-to-day, but with Karl-Anthony Towns still a few weeks from being re-evaluated, every absence by another big man just stands out.

Nikola Jokic could have a field day on Tuesday but we like the Timberwolves behind Anthony Edwards to take advantage of this favorable schedule and to be right in that mix for the No. 1 spot. Still, look for value Jokic player prop bets.

4. New Orleans Pelicans

It feels like a matter of time before these guys (or the streaking Mavericks) leap over the Clippers in the West. We’re jumping the gun. We’re setting the trend. We’re pushing the envelope.

Of course, it’s not that big of a leap to make (or gun to jump, or envelope to push). Los Angeles is listing through a 1-4 stretch and it’s a concern as to whether their old bones will have much left to give in the coming weeks and (perhaps) months. New Orleans, meanwhile, has the look of a hungry crew that knows there’s an opportunity on the horizon.

Leading that hungry charge is Zion Williamson, who had 34 points, seven rebounds, and three steals in a win over the Clippers the other day. He followed that up with 26 and 10 in a rout of the Blazers and is looking every bit like the guy New Orleans hoped for with that No. 1 pick in 2019.

There’s loads of help for Williamson, too, and it bears out in the numbers. New Orleans is outscoring opponents by an average of 9.3 points since the All-Star break. Only Boston, Denver, and Oklahoma City have better figures in that category.

If it’s not too late, consider a long-term bet online at the sportsbook on the Pelicans.

5. Los Angeles Clippers

Recent home losses to Minnesota and Milwaukee and a road setback to the Pelicans can be explained away in one way or another. But a 17-point home loss to the Hawks is another story, especially when the Clippers went in relatively healthy.

Injuries have been a big part of their fall (8-10 over the last 18 games), but good teams find ways to plug holes. That’s always a more difficult proposition when you’re the oldest team in the league – by far.

Six of the next eight games are on the road. Unless something changes quickly, we’ll be talking about play-in territory for the Clippers.

 

 

Questions of the Day

Which NBA game stands out on March 19’s schedule?


We’ve already mentioned the Denver-Minnesota affair. Dallas at San Antonio and New Orleans at Brooklyn will also impact the West race. There should be some great NBA player props for those contests.

Which team is lurking in the NBA West?


The Mavericks are the team to watch. They’re 13-6 in their last 19 and their new additions at the trade deadline seem to fit perfectly. They could be in that top six in the West soon enough.

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