At the start of the second half of the season, four NBA divisional races — the Atlantic, Pacific, Southeast, and Southwest Divisions — are undecided and up for grabs.
The stacked and hyper-competitive Pacific Division is a three-legged race among the LA Lakers, LA Clippers, and Phoenix Suns. The Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers are ready to throw down in a street brawl to determine the Atlantic Division champ. The Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs are neck-and-neck in the Southwest Division race, yet there’s a huge gap in their divisional odds. The Miami Heat are the team to beat in the Southeast once again, yet the Charlotte Hornets have been pesky, and are right on the heels of Jimmy Butler and the Heat.
The Central Division and the Northwest Division look like locks compared to the other four super-tight divisional races.
Giannis “Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks (22-14) are -10000 odds to win the Central Division once again. The Indiana Pacers are their closest competition, while the Chicago Bulls need help if they expect to string together a playoff run. The rest of the Central includes two of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference with the Cleveland Cavs and the Detroit Pistons, who are the worst team in the East.
The Utah Jazz are -3335 odds to win the Northwest Division. The Jazz (27-9) have the NBA’s best record against the spread and straight up. The Portland Trail Blazers are another playoff-bound team, but they have too much ground to make up to catch the Jazz.
Atlantic Division: Brooklyn or Philly?
Let’s be real; no one expected the Philadelphia 76ers would be the top team in the Eastern Conference at the All-Star break. The chalk pick was the Milwaukee Bucks. The hipster pick and all the money was on the Brooklyn Nets. But credit Doc Rivers for pushing the 76ers to play their best basketball in the first half of the season. Joel Embiid had a monstrous first half, which is why he’s now the betting favorite to win the MVP.
|NBA Atlantic Division Odds|
- Brooklyn Nets -200
- Philadelphia 76ers +150
- Boston Celtics +3000
- Toronto Raptors +4000
- New York Knicks +25000
The Sixers are +150 odds to hold on to first place in the Atlantic Division. The Sixers were mentioned in multiple trade rumors, such as those involving Buddy Hield, Kyle Lowry, and Alec Burks, but they’ve yet to secure another scoring option behind Embiid.
The Brooklyn Nets are -200 favorites to snatch the division away. The Nets have a bigger upside, especially because Kevin Durant missed several games, and Brooklyn’s Big 3 has only played only a few games together as a unit. During the All-Star break, the Nets made a key addition by signing Blake Griffin to provide an extra scoring boost off the bench.
Pacific Division: Suns or LA Coinflip
If you’re a value seeker, then fire away at the Phoenix Suns at +300 odds to win the Pacific Division. While everyone else is focused on which of the LA teams will snatch the divisional crown, the Suns (24-11) are the team sitting in first place. Only the Utah Jazz have a better record than the Suns, which puts them in the #2 playoff seed in the Western Conference.
The LA Lakers (24-14) are a big question mark because of the unknown health status of Anthony Davis. Is he hurt more than they let on? Or is the team being cautious and saving him for the postseason?
|NBA Pacific Division Odds|
- LA Clippers +100
- LA Lakers +140
- Phoenix Suns +300
- Golden State Warriors +25000
- Sacramento Kings +50000
Regardless of the latest NBA conspiracy theories floating around, the Lakers will be difficult to beat in the playoffs if both LeBron James and Davis are healthy. The Lakers are +140 odds to win the Pacific, putting them at second-best on the futures board. Then again, the Lakers are the favorite to win the NBA title at +250 odds.
The LA Clippers (24-14) headed into the All-Star break on a three-game skid, which is how the Suns surged past both LA teams and moved into first place. The Clippers are still the favorite to win the division at +100 odds, yet they’re only +550 odds to win the NBA championship, which is third-best on the futures board.
What do those numbers really mean? The Lakers could care less about raising a Pacific Division banner because they want back-to-back championship rings.
Southeast Division: Buzz City or South Beach
The Miami Heat should win the Southwest Division, but they’re only 18-18. They sit in the #6 playoff seed in the Eastern Conference and hold a slim lead over the Charlotte Hornets (17-18). The Hornets sit in the #7 seed and pose the only legit threat to the Heat in the Southeast. If you want to back Buzz City, the Hornets are +800 odds to win the Southeast crown.
|NBA Southeast Division Odds|
- Miami Heat -335
- Atlanta Hawks +600
- Charlotte Hornets +800
- Washington Wizards +1400
- Orlando Magic +1400
The Heat got off to a slow start because they were fatigued from their deep postseason run that included a trip to the NBA Finals. There was very little turnaround time between seasons. Straight up, the Heat are the best team in the division, whereas the Hornets are young and inexperienced. The Heat are -335 odds to win the Southeast once again.
Southwest Division: Spurs or Mavs Showdown
Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans fell too far behind in the first half to pose a real threat to the Dallas Mavericks or San Antonio Spurs in the Southwest Division race.
The Mavericks (19-16) are -200 odds to win the Southwest, but the Spurs (18-15) offer up solid value at +275 odds. The Spurs sit in the #7 seed in the Western Conference, while the Mavs are the #8 seed.
|NBA Southwest Division Odds|
- Dallas Mavericks -200
- San Antonio Spurs +275
- Memphis Grizzlies +600
- New Orleans Pelicans +1200
- Houston Rockets +25000
The Mavs are surging with a four-game winning streak. Luka Doncic tipped off the second half of the season with a triple-double. The Mavs are open for business on offers for Kristaps Porzingis, but the Unicorn’s future health status is a huge gamble.
Meanwhile, the Spurs are negotiating a trade with veteran LaMarcus Aldridge. But the way they played this season, the Spurs might be better off without him.