For many fans, unless the Milwaukee Bucks win the East, the Western Conference Finals will be the actual NBA Finals. Why? Because the Bucks are probably the only team in the East that might beat the two teams widely expected to win the West.
So, who’s going to win the West?
If you ask most fans, the winner will be one of two teams, the Clippers and Lakers. It is not going to be an easy road for either team, but the oddsmakers at William Hill appear to agree with most experts and the general public:
NBA Western Conference Winner Odds 2019/2020
- Los Angeles Lakers +140
- Los Angeles Clippers +170
- Houston Rockets +750
- Denver Nuggets +1200
- Utah Jazz +1800
- Dallas Mavericks +1800
- Oklahoma City Thunder +4000
- New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trail Blazers +5000
- Memphis Grizzlies +12500
- San Antonio Spurs +30000
- Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings +50000
The Spurs, Grizzlies, Suns, and Kings are all talented, promising teams that will make the push for the 8-seed in the West fun to watch. But all four don’t stand a chance against the top tier teams in the West in a best-of-seven series. It would be a stretch to say the Pelicans, Trail Blazers, or Thunder can win the West.
They are good enough, though, to give whoever faces them a good scare. That leaves the Mavericks, Jazz, Nuggets, Rockets, and the Lakers and Clippers.
Dallas is certainly an up and coming team. But expecting them to win it all may be a bit much for their talented young core. Whoever beats them will likely need all seven games. Dallas is on the rise, just not quite ready for prime time just yet (but next year…).
After losing Bojan Bogdanovic to a wrist injury, the Jazz is more likely to suffer an early-round upset than win the West. Denver and Houston, though, could conceivably give the Lakers and Clippers a run for their money.
Denver has the talent to possibly give the Lakers or Clippers a challenge in seven, especially since they are going to enter the restart with the roster healthier than it had been all season. They would probably need a little luck to shine down on them to win a series against either. But it is possible.
As for Houston, the Rockets could beat the Lakers or Clippers in seven, if they heat up at the right time. They certainly have that kind of scoring potential. At the same time, going with the Rockets means accepting the possibility they go ice cold from three-point range when they can least afford to.
So—who should you bet on?
The safe NBA Pick is obviously going to be either the Clippers or Lakers. The Clippers have better depth and a much better bench, but if LeBron James and Anthony Davis heat up, no one can take the Lakers down.
But if you roll with those guys, yeah—you will win money, just not much. If you want to test your luck a little, give the Rockets some serious thought. Yes, they have been extremely frustrating in the postseason the last two years. Maybe with Harden getting some rest the last few months, he will not wear down.
Denver would not be a terrible longshot bet, either. But if you are only looking for one longshot, go with the Rockets.