|Portland Trail Blazers||+280||10-4||-|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||+225||9-5||1|
While conference standings hold much more weight in the NBA when it comes to postseason play, top basketball bookmakers still have NBA betting future odds for division champions that are updated routinely throughout the year.
And while some – like the Warriors being -10000 to win the Northwest – aren’t worth discussing, there is a division that should be an absolute blast to watch the remainder of the season.
It shouldn’t be surprising that the Northwest is once again a close race. Last year all five teams finished within three games of each other – the next closest fifth-place finisher in a division was 20 games back of first place.
That three-game spread wound up being the difference between the No. 3 seed in the West (Portland, 49-33) and missing the playoffs altogether (Denver, 46-36). Every game mattered in the division, and we’re seeing that being the case again in 2018-19.
They’re the NBA’s only division with three teams in the top 10 of net rating – and they account for three of the 15 teams with a plus net rating and three of eight teams with at least nine wins. Their five combined records are 42-30 (.583), and the top four are 36-21 (.631).
The former record is easily the best among the six divisions. The next best combined records are the Pacific and its 40-32 record (.555); those top four teams are 37-21 (.637).
With all due respect to Tom Thibodeau and the Timberwolves, they won’t be competing for the Northwest. But the other four are all clumped together, and oddsmakers are giving them just about an equal shot of winning it.
Last season the Blazers needed a 13-game win streak between February and March to put them in position to win the division and earn the No. 3 seed in the postseason. This season they’re getting an early jump on the wins, having won 10 of 13 to begin the year.
As always, it’s going to be about how far Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum can take them, but the improved play of Jusuf Nurkic, Zach Collins and Al-Farouq Aminu will only help. They’re one of two teams ranked in the top 6 of offensive and defensive efficiency. Right now they’re the team to beat. Again. And they are +280 with 888Sport.
We all knew the Nuggets were going to run line a well-oiled machine on offense. It’s been the defensive prowess that has turned them from a fun team to watch into a true contender.
Through the season’s first five weeks the Nuggets rank third in defensive efficiency in addition to having six players in double figures and the sixth best offense. And they’re still waiting to get back Will Barton, Isaiah Thomas and potentially rookie Michael Porter Jr.
We’ve written it before but something feels different this time around. Nikola Jokic is the best player in the division and if he continues to play at an MVP level , the Nuggets will be the favorites down the stretch. You can get them at +350 with 888Sport thanks to their recent slide.
The Thunder won the Northwest Division four of the final five seasons Kevin Durant was still in Oklahoma City. They haven’t won since, but if they can stay afloat while they wait for Russell Westbrook (short-term) and Andre Roberson (long-term) to return they’ll have a chance.
They’ve kept their trademark defense stout – 2nd in the NBA in efficiency – but the offense has been just OK, ranking 12th and doing itself no favors with Westbrook battling an ankle injury. Still, the 1-2 punch of Westbrook and Paul George is the best in the division. They’re currently the favorites at +225 odds.
They don’t have a Westbrook or a Jokic. Or even a Lillard. But there might not be a more talented roster, top to bottom, in the division than Utah’s. They’ve got their of studs in Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, and supporting pieces in Jae Crowder, Joe Ingles, Ricky Rubio and Derrick Favors.
Having one of the better bench units in the league helps game-to-game, but also in the case of an injury to one of their frontline starters. Quin Snyder seems to know exactly which buttons to push and it should have Utah within striking distance all season long. That’s why the Jazz are just +250
The Nuggets have won 33, 40 and 46 games under Mike Malone. This season they’re on pace to win 57 games, and even if they go .500 the rest of the way will match that 46-win mark. We’re guessing they’ll be much closer to the former number than the latter.
Denver’s relying on its heavy hitters right now but will spread things out on both ends soon enough. Paull Millsap is rejuvenated, the kids are improving every night and Jokic is more than the real deal. Jump on the Nuggets at +350 with 888Sport.
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