NBA Pacific Division Now a Three-Team Race in Final Stretch
Posted on: February 28, 2023, 06:01h.
Last updated on: March 1, 2023, 12:01h.
The Pacific Division is the tightest divisional race in the NBA heading into the final quarter of the season. The Phoenix Suns (33-29) are three games behind the first-place Sacramento Kings (35-25), yet the Suns are the betting favorite to win the Pacific Division at -120 odds over at DraftKings.
The Kings are the second favorite on the board at +170 odds, and they’re in the hunt for their first division title in 20 years.
The Los Angeles Clippers (33-30) are in third place in the Pacific Division and 3.5 games back. You can back the Clippers at +550 odds to win the division for the first time since the 2013-14 season.
|Los Angeles Clippers
|Golden State Warriors
During the preseason, oddsmakers did not install a clear-cut favorite to win the Pacific Division, because three teams were lumped together. The Clippers were the slight favorite to win the division at +180 odds, but the Golden State Warriors (+205) and Suns (+225) were not far behind them before the season began in late October.
KD Surge: Suns -120
The Phoenix Suns became a popular betting pick across the board in the multiple categories. After the Suns landed NBA All-Star forward Kevin Durant in a trade with the Brooklyn Nets, the Suns saw an uptick in NBA championship odds (+450), Western Conference odds (+230), and Pacific Division odds (-120).
The Suns are currently in fourth place in the Western Conference, and Durant has yet to play a game with the team. However, bettors are not worried that the Suns have only 20 games remaining in the regular season to get Durant up to speed with the playbook.
The Suns seek a third-straight divisional title, and actually have the best record within the Pacific Division with a 9-1 clip.
The Suns have the ninth-toughest schedule, and opponents have a combined .511 winning percentage. They still have two more meetings against the top-seeded Denver Nuggets and the first-place Kings. Obviously if they can beat the Kings in both games, it will put them in a position to seize first place.
No Respect in Cow Town: Kings +170
The Kings surprised pretty much everyone this season after they clawed their way out of the Western Conference cellar.
The Kings were an astronomical long shot to win the division at +40000 odds, but they could pull off the unthinkable. Head coach Mike Brown, in his first season in Sacramento, led the Kings to the eighth-best record in the NBA this season. Brown emerged as the front-runner to win the NBA Coach of the Year after turning around the franchise. The Kings are no longer the doormat of the division, and they’re set to advance to the postseason for the first time since 2006.
With 22 games remaining in the regular season, the Kings face the fourth-hardest schedule. Their opponents have a .519 combined winning percentage, and they have single games against the top three teams in the NBA, including the Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, and Denver Nuggets.
The Kings square off against the Suns twice within a two-week stretch in March. If they Kings can fend off the Suns in those games, it will put them in a prime position to win the Pacific Division crown.
In divisional play, the Kings are only 6-6 against Pacific foes this season.
Kawhi Returns: Clippers +550
Bettors have to predict whether or not the Clippers will attempt to make a run at the division crown, or take a conservative approach with the load management of their top players.
Forward Kawhi Leonard finally looks like his old self after missing last season with an ACL injury. If he can remain healthy, the Clippers will be a tough matchup in the postseason.
The Clippers have never advanced to the NBA Finals or won a championship. But both lofty goals seem more important than chasing a division title. If that’s the case, the Clippers could preserve the health of their star players, especially Leonard, in the final weeks of the season.
The Clippers have the eighth-toughest remaining schedule, including three more games against the Memphis Grizzlies, who are currently the #2 seed in the Western Conference. The Clippers are 6-5 against Pacific Division teams this season.
The Long Shots: Warriors and Lakers
The Golden State Warriors (31-30) are the defending NBA champions. But they’re in seventh place in the Western Conference standings, and currently in fourth place in the Pacific Division.
In the preseason, the Warriors were the second favorite on the futures board at +205 odds to win the Pacific Division. Right now, the Warriors are +2200 odds and awaiting for star guard Steph Curry to return to action after missing the last couple of weeks with a leg injury.
The Los Angeles Lakers (29-32) are in last place in the division. Their future looks grim after LeBron James sustained a foot injury, and he’s expected to miss multiple weeks, and possibly the remainder of the season. With James out, the Lakers are massive long shots to win the Pacific Division crown at +10000 odds.
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