NBA Western Conference Betting Odds with Picks and Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 12/11/2014
The depth of the NBA's Western Conference right now is just ridiculous. The seventh-place team in the conference, Dallas, has a winning percentage of .708 - 17-7. By contrast, Miami sits seventh in the East at .455. Last year, Dallas' current win percentage would have been good enough for third in the West at the end of the season, and it would have run away with the East. We're not a third of the way through the season yet, so the sample size is small. With so many strong teams, though, the race for the playoffs - and, more importantly, playoff positioning - is going to be just brutal. Not all seven elite teams at this point are created equally, though. Which teams will keep doing what they are doing? Which will falter slightly? And what does it all mean for bettors? Here's a look (all odds are from Sportsbook.ag):
Golden State Warriors (19-2, +300 to win the Western Conference): The Warriors are going to lose at some point, aren't they? They have won 14 straight. That has come against shockingly weak competition, though, and things get tougher coming up - starting with a three-game trip to Dallas, New Orleans and Memphis that begins on Saturday. The biggest frustration for the team has to be that they have played ridiculously well without being able to build a real cushion in the conference. Stephen Curry has been incredible, and their commitment to defense makes their success sustainable. There will be rough patches, and I find it hard to believe that they will win the conference in the end, but this is a well-built, well-coached team that will be hosting a playoff series when the postseason begins - and will be covering a lot of spreads on the way there. They are already a league-best 15-6 ATS, so this is a team that is, and will be, a joy to bet on.
Memphis Grizzlies (17-4, +800): I'm a big sucker for teams that are built the right way - instead of those that load up on superstars - and Memphis certainly qualifies in that regard. Management has been patient, and it is paying off. This team will be in the mix for sure, but there is a big warning sign. They have losses against Toronto, Houston and San Antonio - elite teams - so far this year. They are where they are in the standings largely because of the weaker games, not dominance against equal foes. I can't shake the feeling that this team is overachieving slightly, and their 12-9 ATS record is not overwhelming.
Portland Trail Blazers (17-5, +1200): This is a good team - most of the time. They have losses against Sacramento and, most recently, Minnesota - proof that they don't always put their best game forward. I love how effectively they take care of the boards, but 40 percent of their starting lineup is underwhelming - to be kind - and that is a concern going forward. Playoff team? Absolutely. Not one I would be anxious to play in the first round, either. But I don't see them as a top four squad at all.
L.A. Clippers (16-5, +650): The Clippers team we have seen the last nine games - all wins - is a far cry from the one we saw earlier. Early on they weren't playing defense, they couldn't all get on the same page, and their superstars weren't playing like stars. Their defense is dramatically better now, though, and though the lineup issues they have had are still a concern, things have meshed much better of late. You still can't convince me that Blake Griffin is right at this point, but if he can find his jump again then the team could do some real damage. Their experience and talent should see them move up the standings somewhat - though I still struggle to see them breaking through without a tweak to this roster.
Houston Rockets (16-5, +1200): Four of their losses have been to Memphis, the Clippers, and Golden State twice. That's a problem. There is a lot to like about this team, but I am not convinced that their big two has enough to work with for the long run - or that Dwight Howard can be trusted when crunch time rolls around. Of the seven teams on this list, I like the Rockets least - other than Dallas, that is.
San Antonio Spurs (16-6, +250): It tells you all you need to know about what this team has done that they are sitting in sixth, 3.5 games out of first place, yet they are favored to win the conference - and it's hard to argue against it. Sooner or later the window is going to close for these guys, because outside of Kawhi Leonard the core isn't getting any younger. However, they keep doing what they are doing, and it keeps working. Excellent coaching and egoless focus is the perfect recipe. If you want to be concerned about something it's that they have already lost four times on the road - and the last two have been in Brooklyn and Utah. That shows some cracks in the mechanism, perhaps, and makes it really hard for me to argue that there is any value to be had in betting on this team at this price. However, it would be far from surprising if they were to win the conference yet again.
Dallas Mavericks (17-7, +800): I just don't like this team very much. Dirk Nowitzki is getting old - and showing it. Chandler Parsons is overrated. Tyson Chandler is just okay. Monta Ellis never met a shot he didn't like - which is great when it is working, but that isn't every day. This is a solid team that can win a lot of games - as their record indicates - but they just aren't good enough to make any real noise when things matter. From a competitive aspect this team is all but irrelevant.
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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