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Looking at how the public is betting the NBA Western Conference winner, picks for second half

We take a look at some splits for the Western Conference and give our picks for the stretch run of the season.

Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz looks on during the third quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center on March 03, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The second half of the 2020-21 NBA season gets going on Wednesday and the Western Conference figures to be competitive at the top and throughout. You’ve obviously got your heavy hitters in the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers at the top, plus the Utah Jazz, who don’t seem to get any respect (still). Behind them is a slew of teams with plenty of talent, including the Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Golden State Warriors, Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks. It’s the West, this isn’t anything new!

The Lakers continue to see the most action to advance to a second straight NBA Finals this season. LeBron James and L.A. have gone through more adversity this year than last year. Anthony Davis has missed significant time due to lower-body injuries, which has to give some bettors concern. AD is expected to return 100 percent healthy, but you never know how he’ll hold up throughout the playoffs. These past few weeks without AD have made it clear that he is required for any Lakers title run. Without Davis, the Lakers will be vulnerable to plenty of playoff opponents.

The two opponents who could give the Lakers a run are the Clippers and Jazz. The Clips are probably the Lakers’ top competition considering the presence of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Good depth and defensive stoppers will be key for any Clippers’ playoff run. Staying healthy and getting production from that depth is what will help them knock off the Lakers and Jazz.

Utah had three All-Stars and yet, no one is really counting on them to do much in the playoffs. We saw last season how the Jazz can compete with the best in the West when they took the Nuggets to seven games. That series could have gone either way and we could have been talking about Utah facing the Lakers in the West Finals in 2020.

Donovan Mitchell is a gamer. He proved in the 2020 playoffs he can be “The Guy” for Utah. Rudy Gobert needs to step up down low and contain your ADs, your Nikola Jokic’s. The key is the healthy of All-Star Mike Conley. He was absent from last year’s for two games, plus Bojan Bogdanovic missed the entire series. The Jazz are primed to make a run this season and have the inside track to the No. 1 overall seed.

Favorite to win the West

Pick: Lakers +120

If AD comes back and is fine, the Lakers should make it out of the West. I’m not saying it will be easy — definitely not as easy as last season. In a tight series, I give the edge to LeBron every time over teams like the Clippers and Jazz. Can the Lakers lose? Absolutely. Will they? Probably not.

Long shot to win the West

Pick: Trail Blazers +3300

It’s been so long since we saw CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic that I think people forgot they’re on the team. Portland should get both starters back at some point before the postseason. Without both players for most of the season, the Blazers are 21-14 and head into the second half of the season in the 5-hole in the West. Portland has a superstar closer in Damian Lillard, who has led this team to the West Finals before. The Blazers have much more depth than those teams, particularly if CJ and Nurk come back healthy.

Western Conference betting splits

Handle Rank Team Odds % of Handle % of Bets
Handle Rank Team Odds % of Handle % of Bets
1 LA Lakers +120 31% 59%
2 GS Warriors +5000 25% 3%
3 UTA Jazz +400 16% 11%
4 LA Clippers +250 9% 9%
5 POR Trail Blazers +3300 5% 3%
6 DEN Nuggets +1200 5% 6%
7 PHO Suns +1400 4% 3%
8 DAL Mavericks +2500 3% 3%
9 HOU Rockets +25000 1% 1%
10 NO Pelicans +10000 < 1% 1%

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