NBA NW: Mid-Season Review / Updated FuturesBy Daniel J.
Since we are entering the All-Star break in the NBA this weekend, we can officially close the book on the first half of the regular season. We’ve seen plenty of incredible streaks, numerous impressive performances and a few surprises, but which teams were the real winners of the first half? And which teams have the best chance to make the playoffs and win the 2013 title? Today, we’ll take a look back at how the five teams from the Northwest Division did during the first half, while also taking a look into the future with updated futures odds, courtesy of Bovada.lv.
Oklahoma City Thunder: 39-14, Odds – 13/4
It was a smooth first-half ride for the defending Western Conference champions, coasting into the break in second place in the conference. After 53 games, the Thunder are the second best scoring team in the league and 23-4 on their home floor. They are certainly the favorites to win the West again this year, but the one hurdle they still haven’t been able to get over has been the Miami Heat. After losing to the Heat in last year’s NBA Finals, OKC still hasn’t figured out how to stop LeBron and Co., as the Thunder lost both of their regular season games to Miami in the first half. That doesn’t bode well for them going forward, especially since they are likely to encounter Miami if they do make it to the Promised Land again. However, with the amount of talent they posses, the Thunder are always a threat and a good pick at 13/4.
Denver Nuggets: 33-21, Odds – 40/1
The Nuggets were one of the Western Conference’s surprises, finishing the first half strong by going on an nine-game winning streak from late January to early February. They came in just behind the Thunder in scoring (3rd in the league) and also displayed an amazing ability to defend their home court as well with a 22-3 record. At 6.5 games back of OKC, it’s certainly plausible that they could win the Northwest Division, especially with the way they have been playing as of late. Considering their wealth of talent, the Nuggets are the best value pick from this division in the futures at 40/1. Boy, if they end up going all the way, just imagine counting all that money.
Utah Jazz: 30-24, Odds – 125/1
The Jazz have quietly and consistently plodded along with a nice winning record, but don’t be surprised if they go on a tear in the second half of the season. They too have an exceptional home mark (20-6) and are coming into the break with a modest two-game winning streak. The Jazz could go on a run if their shooters get hot, since they rely on defense to win games most nights. The odds are obviously stacked against them with so many talented teams out West, but at 125/1 it’s worth a shot, right?
Portland Trail Blazers: 25-28, Odds – 250/1
With one All-Star and the highest-scoring rookie player in the league, you would think the Blazers would have performed better, but their wild inconsistencies got the better of them during the first half of the season, leading to a losing mark after 51 games. Although Portland is getting pretty juicy looking odds value-wise, their current five-game losing skid and dependency on perimeter shooting says to stay away from this pick.
Minnesota Timberwolves: 19-31, Odds — 500/1
Then there’s the T-Wolves. There’s no easy way to put it. This season has been an absolute disaster for a team that had so much promise and expectation. However, it hasn’t been all the team’s fault. Minnesota has been plagued with injuries all season long, with Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, Brandon Roy and others missing extended time. It just wasn’t meant to be for the Wolves this season, so even though they are getting 500/1 odds, I wouldn’t put a nickel on their chances this year. For Minnesota, there’s always next year.