Are the two Los Angeles teams going to continue to dominate the Western Conference the way they have in the early going of the 2019-20 season?
Oddsmakers believe so.
According to sportsbettingdime.com, the Lakers lead the odds to win the Western Conference, followed closely by the Clippers. The two teams cross paths on Christmas day with a close betting line according to these NBA odds, they are evenly matched. The next-closest team is the Houston Rockets, all the way back at +467.
The current odds say there is a 71.3% chance that a team from Los Angeles represents the Western Conference in the 2020 NBA Finals.
Lakers and Clippers Have Dominated
It’s hard to argue with the odds given what the LA teams have done so far. The Lakers (24-3) and Clippers (20-8) sit first and second in the conference and, excluding games when Kawhi Leonard was resting for the Clippers, they are a combined 40-7 overall and 22-2 at the shared Staples Center.
The most likely outcome is that they maintain their positions as the top two seeds, meaning they would both have home-court advantage in the playoffs unless and until they met each other.
Los Angeles Teams Have Experience Edge
In addition to (likely) having home-court advantage, the LA teams will also hold the edge in postseason experience over whomever they face in the Western Conference playoffs.
The Lakers’ LeBron James has been to eight NBA finals and won MVP three times. LAC’s Leonard has two rings and two finals MVPs, himself, including last season in his only year as a Toronto Raptor.
The only other active player in the Western Conference who has been a truly key piece of a championship team is Draymond Green, whose injury-riddled Golden State Warriors sit dead-last in the West.
While the rest of the Laker and Clipper rosters aren’t exactly replete with players who have tasted a ton of postseason success, the importance of having “the man” in the playoffs has been borne out over the last decade.
Only one team in the last eight years has won a title without a former Finals MVP, and that was the 2015 Warriors, a team that won 67 games.
Banking on a team that doesn’t have LeBron or Kawhi to make a deep run just isn’t a safe bet based on recent history.
Could Young Mavericks or Nuggets Rise Up?
The Dallas Mavericks (18-8) and Denver Nuggets (17-8) are both impressing in the first quarter of the season, and both look to have extremely bright futures.
Dallas’ Luka Doncic (29.3 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 8.9 APG) sits second only to Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo in the MVP odds. Denver’s Nikola Jokic (17.0 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 6.5 APG) continues to spearhead arguably the deepest roster in the league.
Yet, sportsbooks give the Nuggets long +1033 odds to win the West, which is actually a shade better than Dallas at +1200.
While they both pass the early-season eye test, especially the Mavs, who just recorded a massively impressive road win over the Bucks (stopping their 18-game win streak) and have a +9.0 point differential (second in the West to the Lakers), they both lack proved playoff performers.
Indeed, the Nuggets were the #2 seed in the 2019 playoffs but flamed out to the Portland Trail Blazers in the second round. Indeed, they were pushed to seven games by an underwhelming San Antonio Spurs team in the first round.
Their deep roster lacks the MVP-level star recent champs have all had.
Doncic could be that player for the Mavericks, but the second-year point guard won’t get the benefit of the doubt until he does it when it really counts.
No matter what happens in the rest of the regular season, as long as the Lakers and Clippers don’t suffer crucial injuries, expect their odds to stay well ahead of every other team in the conference come playoff time.
Courtesy Of The Source SHA BE ALLAH