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NBA Top 5 Report: Thunder Rattling Wild West Race

It’s been a three-team race in the Western Conference for months and it figures to remain so for the final week-plus of action. Here’s another NBA basketball update focused on the West race.


NBA Top 5 Report: Thunder Rattling Wild West Race
Aaron Gordon #50 of the Denver Nuggets/Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFP

1. Denver Nuggets

If you’re a Nuggets fan, you have to hope for two things. First, you hope that a recent two-game skid that featured some real poor shooting was just a lull, and getting it out of the way before the playoffs begin in a few weeks might actually be a good thing.

After all, Denver bounced back from two sub-100-point efforts in losses to Phoenix and Minnesota with a 130-101 win over Cleveland. The Nuggets shot an incredible 21-for-33 from the 3-point line in that one after going a combined 18-for-68 in the two setbacks.

The other hope, the more pressing one, is for Jamal Murray’s knee to be okay. He’s missed five in a row due to the injury, watching as the Nuggets have fallen to 12-8 without him this season (compared to 40-15 with him in the lineup).

It stands to reason that he’s simply making sure he’s okay for the playoffs, but the No. 1 seed could very well slip away if the team’s floor general is unable to get back out there soon. Remember, Oklahoma City has the tiebreaker with Denver, so there’s actually a bit of a hill to climb to secure the top spot.

Watch the NBA news and rumors on Murray before making your next bet online at the sportsbook on Denver.


2. Oklahoma City Thunder

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s quest for MVP recognition gained more steam Sunday with a game-winner at Madison Square Garden, which also served to get his team into the playoffs for the first time since 2020. And if his Thunder can hang onto the top spot in the West (they enter Tuesday a half-game ahead of Denver), it’ll help any voters on the fence jump from Nikola to SGA.

Keep that in mind if you bet online for any preseason MVP picks.

As for the rest of the Thunder, they’re motoring on just fine. If you’ve read this weekly piece all season, you know that we’ve wondered if/when heavy workloads will cause an issue, especially with Gilgeous-Alexander and Chet Holmgren. It doesn’t seem to be too worrisome right now, although Holmgren has had a few real clunkers of late.

It’ll be interesting to see where they’re at when they get through their current five-game homestand. The Thunder are +600 at the sportsbook to win the West.


3. Minnesota Timberwolves

Sunday’s loss to Chicago at home was a bit of a letdown. Nothing against the Bulls, who have something to play for, but it came 48 hours after the Timberwolves had scored a major road win at Denver to pull into a flat-footed tie with the Thunder atop the West.

If and when Minnesota ends up as a No. 3 seed, this result could have a lot to do with it. They have a handful of winnable games remaining on the slate and one more visit to Denver in what could go a long way toward defining how these top three teams finish.



4. Dallas Mavericks

It’s been coming for a while, and we’re now ready to include the Mavericks with the big dogs in the West. We speculated weeks ago on their imminent rise and they haven’t slowed down a bit, winning seven straight and 11 of their last 12.

The last four of those wins have been on the road, which is a wonderful sign if you’re a Mavericks fan. A win in Houston on Sunday snapped the Rockets’ 11-game winning streak as Luka Doncic did his thing with 47 points.

Dallas and the Los Angeles Clippers established a fun little rivalry a few years ago and now they’re fighting for home-court advantage in the first round. The Clippers lead the Mavericks by two games entering Tuesday but there’s little room for error if Dallas is going to keep up with this pace.

The Mavericks are rolling and a great option among the NBA playoff odds.


5. Los Angeles Clippers

Give these old men some credit. When it looked as if they’d hit a wall and would soon return to Orchard Manor for 4 p.m. suppers and bridge games, they found some energy. Indeed, the Clippers have won three in a row – all on the road – and can complete a perfect road trip at Sacramento on Tuesday.

After that, they get to play six of their last seven at home, where nurses are on call and the Wheel of Fortune/Jeopardy hour is a blast. The Clippers (+325) are the second choice in Las Vegas odds to win the West.


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Questions Of The Day

Which NBA game stands out on Tuesday’s schedule?

Looking further down the standings, we see Houston still two games back of Golden State for the final play-in spot. The Rockets have a tough one at Minnesota as they try to stay close.

Have there been any other notable developments in the West?

The Los Angeles Lakers continue to win at a pretty good clip (18-8 in their last 26) and have a chance to catch eighth-place Sacramento or seventh-place Phoenix in the final two weeks. It’s not completely out of the realm of possibility that the Lakers streak into the sixth spot.


The odds and predictions in the article are based on the time of writing and publication. They may differ as to when the actual event takes place.

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