NBA Betting: Division Race Drama Mostly Lacking in Second Half of Season
by Bovada Sportsbook Staff | Feb. 17, 2014
In Major League Baseball or the NFL, winning one’s division is still considered a big deal and celebrated. In the NBA, it’s generally met with a collective yawn. Perhaps that is why there are reports new NBA commissioner Adam Silver is pondering eliminating divisions altogether in the Association.
With the second half of the NBA season set to tip off on Tuesday following the All-Star Game, Bovada has betting odds on four of the six division winners. Really there are only two close races.
Indiana has the Eastern Conference’s best record at 40-12 and leads the Central Division by 13 games, so that’s in the bag. It will mark the first time since the 1999-2000 season that the Pacers will have repeated as division champs. The Chicago Bulls were slight preseason favorites in the Central, but their chances vanished with Derrick Rose’s season-ending injury.
The Miami Heat are 2.5 games behind Indiana for the East’s best record and they have a 12-game lead over second-place Atlanta in the Southeast Division so that race is also over. It will mark the fourth straight division title for LeBron James and Co. It might be the last, too, if James leaves as a free agent.
The Atlantic Division has the biggest surprise division leader in Toronto as the Raptors hold a 3.5-game lead over Brooklyn despite trading one of their best players, Rudy Gay, for spare parts and future salary-cap space earlier this season. Toronto has won the division just once in its history, 2006-07. They haven’t finished with a winning record since that season.
The Raptors have clearly jelled since Gay left and are overachieving, but it helps they play in one of the worst divisions in American sports history. The Nets and Knicks have massively underachieved, and the Celtics and 76ers are two of the worst teams in the NBA and are in a full-on rebuilding mode. Toronto is the -175 favorite at Bovada with Brooklyn at +140 and New York at +1200.
The closest race in the Western Conference is in the Southwest Division, with San Antonio leading Houston by two games. The Spurs have won the Southwest the past three seasons and Houston never has – they were only formed in 2004. San Antonio is the -250 betting favorite with Houston at +170.
The Rockets, who are on an NBA-high seven-game winning streak (5-2 ATS), play in one of the more-hyped games this week when they visit the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday, which will have Live Betting available at the book. It’s Dwight Howard’s first game at the Lakers since leaving the team this offseason. You know LA fans blame Howard for their franchise’s current disarray. The Lakers are tied for the worst record in the Western Conference and have lost a franchise-record seven straight home games. Howard took $30 million less to leave Los Angeles and sign with Houston as a free agent.
Oklahoma City has the NBA’s best record and the league’s scoring leader and expected Most Valuable Player in Kevin Durant, and the Thunder lead surprising Portland by six games in the Northwest Division. OKC, which is tied for the fewest home losses in the league with three and most home wins with 20, is the -1000 division favorite with Portland at +500. The teams don’t play each other the rest of the regular season, splitting four meetings.
Finally, in the Pacific Division the Los Angeles Clippers hold a five-game lead over Phoenix and Golden State and they are -500 betting favorites. The Clippers won the division for the first time last season. They survived well in the nearly six weeks that All-Star point guard Chris Paul missed with an injury. Golden State is +375 and Phoenix +1000.