The NBA regular season is coming to a close so we’re taking a late look at how the championship and Most Valuable Player markets are shaping up and checking in on the playoff picture in the Western Conference.
NBA MVP Wrap
As the NBA regular season comes to a close the Most Valuable Player of the Year race is heating up. Voters will say they consider the whole season before writing down their candidate. Some do, for sure. However, recency bias is something few can get past and late-season runs translating into unexpected MVP votes isn’t unheard of in this league.
Fittingly, there has been significant movement in the MVP market in recent weeks.
Joel Embiid has spent the second half of the NBA season on the first line of betting. He led the Philadelphia 76ers to the top of the Eastern Conference, but as they figure things out with James Harden and the typical Harden Honeymoon comes to an end, the 76ers have dropped to 4th and Embiid has dropped to the second line in the MVP market at $3.30. Excellent all year and with only one less win despite the Denver Nuggets’ injury issues, Nikola Jokic is now the $1.35 favourite. His last four games do well to sum up his season:
- 35 points, 13-15 shooting, 12 rebounds, 8 assists (W)
- 26 points, 9-17 shooting, 19 rebounds, 11 assists (W)
- 37 points, 15-19 shooting, 13 rebounds, 9 assists (W)
- 38 points, 14-21 shooting, 19 rebounds 8 assists (L)
However, it’s Giannis Antetokounmpo making a late run into the conversation to be at $6 heading into the final week of the season.
To recap: Giannis played 2 of the 3 best players in the NBA this week and went 2-0 while averaging
30-45 FG (67%)
He also had a game winning block, a step back 3 to send a game to overtime, and 2 free throws to win that game. Statement Made #MVP
— Jake Reetz (@jajareetz) April 1, 2022
Jokic is going to take some beating at this point. Strangely, Devin Booker barely rates a mention despite his high level of play all season and the Phoenix Suns playing with the best record in the NBA. Still, crazier things have happened and Antetokounmpo, in particular, is putting in a strong case to finish the year.
Picture In The West
The NBA’s play-in tournament has added an extra level of intrigue to end the regular season. They’re playing for the right to be smashed by the Suns in the first round, but reaching the playoffs for these teams will be an achievement in itself.
Western Conference Playoff Picture:
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) April 2, 2022
The Minnesota Timberwolves are looking to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2017-18 and for only the second time since 2003-04. It’s the same for the New Orleans Pelicans who have also missed the post season over the last four years. Meanwhile, the San Antonio Spurs don’t often expect anything less and have exceeded expectations to even get this far. Notably, the Los Angeles Lakers aren’t on the list. Their season from hell is almost over unless they manage to win all five of their remaining games and have a handful of results go their way.
Anthony Davis is back so it isn’t out of the question. It all starts against the Denver Nuggets as $2.98 and +6.5 underdogs.
Paul George Returns
There was once talk about Kawhi Leonard returning before the end of the NBA regular season. ACL’s are a difficult injury to recover from, but players can typically start to think about getting back on the court nine months later. Most expected Leonard would take the lengthy approach to recover, and he has. That has left the LA Clippers middling in the Western Conference, not good enough to really compete with the top teams in the playoffs but too good to miss out entirely.
Paul George’s return can give them a spark, though.
Paul George in his first game of 2022:
34 PTS (20 in the 3rd)
In 31 minutes. pic.twitter.com/rzuM45Ppmu
— StatMuse (@statmuse) March 30, 2022
Excellent in his return from injury, the 31-year-old led the Clippers to an impressive 121-115 win over the Utah Jazz. Perhaps there is hope for an upset in the playoffs…
NBA Championship Odds
As the regular season winds down, it’s a good time to check in with the championship odds.
Notably, Kyrie Irving’s improved playing availability hasn’t helped the Brooklyn Nets shorten their price. They’re out to $8 from $6.50 a week ago. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia 76ers have also drifted out to $12 from $11. The Boston Celtics, on the other hand, continue to shorten to move from $11 to $10 over the last week.
Top 10 Championship Odds
|Golden State Warriors||$10|