The Golden State Warriors have returned to the top of most pundits’ NBA power rankings after going on a seven-game winning streak. The odds on them winning the NBA Championship have gone into 4/5 on the back of this fine run of form, and they look unstoppable at present. The only teams enjoying similar winning runs are the San Antonio Spurs and the Utah Jazz, both Western Conference teams. It makes it look increasingly like the winner of the NBA Championship will come from this conference.
The Golden State Warriors are favourites to avenge last season’s Finals defeat to LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers and win another NBA Championship. It would be their second in three years and they really have been the dominant force in recent times. Over in the Eastern Conference, the Cavs lost their last game to leave them with a win ratio of .714. That does not compare at all favourably to the Warriors’ .864 or the Spurs .791. Even the third best team in the Western Conference, the Houston Rockets, have a better record than Cleveland, with a win percentage of .723.
Below the Cavs in the Eastern Conference, the Raptors and Celtics are both on losing streaks, and none of the leading teams are playing all that well. In any power rankings, five of the top six teams right now would come from the Western Conference. The favourites, third favourites and fourth favourites to win the NBA Championship are all Western Conference teams, so it looks like the winner will come from this conference. Bet365 and Sky Bet are running books on which conference will produce the winner of the NBA Championship and both are offering 2/5 on it being the Western Conference, which looks a great bet right now.
Most of the divisions look sewn up and are dominated by clear frontrunners, but one that looks interesting still is the Northwest, where the Utah Jazz are in front on 29-16, followed by the Oklahoma City Thunder on 25-19. The Thunder have MVP candidate Russell Westbrook, but that has not been enough to stop them losing their past two games. The Jazz, meanwhile, are on a remarkable six-game winning run, a streak bettered only by the Warriors, and Rudy Gobert is in fantastic form for them. They already have a healthy advantage and the gap should widen, so the 5/12 available at Ladbrokes on the Jazz winning this division looks a great bet.
On Tuesday the Warriors play the Miami Heat and should win comfortably, so much so that they are just 1/8 with Betfred and Paddy Power. These teams played on January 11 and the Warriors ran out 12-point winners. Since then their form has been immense: they have won their last five games by 20 points, 35 points (against the Cavaliers, no less), 21 points, 17 points and 20 points. The Heat are on a three-game winning run but are likely to come unstuck against the Warriors, who can cover an 11-points spread at 10/11 with Betfred and Paddy Power. Wednesday sees leading lights from the Western and Eastern Conferences face off as the Spurs, second in the Western Conference, play the Toronto Raptors, second in the Eastern Conference. Expect the supremacy of the Western Conference to be asserted here with a narrow win for the Spurs, who are in excellent form while the Raptors have lost two in a row. On Friday the Jazz plays the LA Lakers and should cover a generous spread.
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