With all eyes on the Miami Heat’s bid for the longest winning streak in NBA history, the five-way fight to capture top seeding in the Western Conference has been a little overlooked of late. But with just 5½ games separating San Antonio in first and Denver in fifth, it’s shaping up to be a battle for supremacy over the last month of the regular season.
There’s so little to choose between the five - on form and on talent - that it should make for an intriguing race to see who will earn the right to be thrashed by Miami in the NBA Finals. It’s worth a look at the Conference odds at this stage to get ahead of the game.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are still 2.35 favourites to win the West for the second straight year and have the best record (33-12) against in-conference opponents. But the Spurs, at 3.00, have motored on as they wait for Tony Parker to return. The Frenchman will now have the benefit of rest ahead of the post-season.
The faltering Clippers are at 7.00, and the surging Lakers improbably at 12.50, but neither look capable of a deep run. However, the two best value bets come behind. Denver, with 14 straight wins, are 31-11 in-conference and if they can get homecourt advantage in the first round at least, they will be a huge threat. They’re generously priced at 13.5 while Memphis are a ridiculous 25.00 despite the third-best record in the West and a defence that can pose major problems for anyone.
The Grizzlies visit New Orleans tonight with eight wins from their last ten. During that stint, they’ve not allowed any opponents to score more than 97 points. The Hornets are a poor offensive team but in what could be a grinder, they’re worth a punt on a handicap of +6 at 1.91. Alternatively, go under the total points line of 178.0 at 1.91.
Miami go for win number 25 in Detroit tonight and it’s unlikely the Pistons will give the Heat a third close shave. The hosts have lost nine straight, and were blown out by 37 by Brooklyn earlier this week. So take Miami to come up trumps on the handicap of -15.5 at 1.91.
Best bet: Go under 178.0 total points in New Orleans-Memphis at 1.91