LA Clippers Remain Atop the NBA Title Odds Leaderboard
By: James Tillman
Following what proved to be an eventful offseason, only a few select teams emerged as the favorites to win the NBA title this season. That list included the Milwaukee Bucks – who had the best record in the league a season ago at 60-22. The Los Angeles Lakers, who acquired Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard and a bevy of perimeter shooters with which to surround them. And of course, there were LA Clippers – a squad that boasts two of the best two-way players in the NBA in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
Will these teams continue to dominate the conversation about potential title contenders? Here’s an updated look at the odds for each of these ball clubs based upon how they performed over the past week.
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Third-Best NBA Title Odds: Milwaukee Bucks (+320 – No Change from Last Week)
The Milwaukee Bucks rolled into the past week having won eight straight games. The trend continued to start the week, as they knocked off the Washington Wizards 151-131. As the saying goes though, all good things come to an end. This adage held true as the Bucks fell to the Denver Nuggets 127-115. As they have done so many times before, the Bucks bounced back with a 129-108 win against the Phoenix Suns, improving their league-leading record to 42-7.
Being that they lead the league in scoring; are ranked second and first in defense and offense, it’s rather difficult to understand why this team continues to remain at the No. 3 spot. I’m willing to go out a limb and say that won’t be the case for much longer.
Second-Best NBA Title Odds: Los Angeles Lakers (+300 – No Change from Last Week)
The Los Angeles Lakers postponed their matchup against the LA Clippers on Jan. 28, which meant that they had only two games on their slate over the past week. In their first game at the Staples Center in over two weeks, the Lakers came up a bit short against the Portland Trail Blazers. While Anthony Davis certainly did his part in this one (37 points, 15 rebounds and six assists), it was not enough to offset another huge night from Damian Lillard (48 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists) to go along with 30 points and 13 rebounds from Hassan Whiteside. As a result, the Trail Blazers came away with a well-deserved 127-119 victory.
The Lakers redeemed themselves a few nights later, posting a 129-113 win against the Sacramento Kings. They held the Kings to just 42.9 percent shooting from the field and 31.8 percent from 3-point range. Even more important, the Lakers have the best record in the Western Conference at 37-11 and the second-best record in the league behind the Milwaukee Bucks.
Top NBA Title Odds: LA Clippers (+300 – No Change From Last Week)
While the LA Clippers continue to have a slight edge in the NBA title odds conversation, they had an up-and-down week. In a home game against the Kings on Jan. 30, the Clippers jumped out to a five-point lead after the first 12 minutes of action. Surprisingly, the Kings outscored them by a whopping 36-14 margin in the second quarter and took a 17-point lead into intermission. While one would expect the Clippers to make a serious run at some point, it didn’t happen. When it was said and done, the Kings came out on top to the tune of 124-103.
It should be noted that the Clippers shot better from beyond the arc (41.9 percent) than they did from the field overall (38 percent). Things were a bit different in the team’s next home game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Leonard and PG13 led LA’s scoring attack, combining for 52 points. Los Angeles also got 46 points from its second unit en route to a 118-106 victory. Despite their somewhat sporadic play at times, the Clippers still have the second-best record in the west, leading the Nuggets by a slim half-game in the standings. For obvious reasons, all eyes will be on this team as the postseason draws closer.