With around half of the 2019/20 NBA regular season now complete, we are beginning to get a picture of the teams that are looking most likely to make it into the playoffs and to win the NBA Championship.
Some teams, like the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers, were favourites from the beginning of the season, while others have outperformed expectations and taken some basketball fans by surprise.
Here is a look at some of the main contenders for the NBA Championships and how they got there.
Sitting at the top of the Eastern Conference, the Bucks are currently favourite to win it. They’re also favourite to take victory in the NBA finals, in front the two Los Angeles teams.
They were always contenders but bookmakers have been impressed by their performance so far this year. They’ve won 35 of their 42 games, 2 more than the LA Lakers (although they have a game in hand).
The Bucks have outperformed every other team in the NBA, with a massive 8 win lead over the Celtics who are in second place in the Eastern Conference. They’ve also had the best differential in the league for most of the season.
Unless something spectacular goes wrong, the Bucks are likely to make it into the playoffs, but that’s where everything can change.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers were second favourite to take the NBA Championship from the beginning of the season. They’ve since slipped to third, behind the Bucks and the Clippers.
The bookmakers are split on the two LA teams though. Some favour the Lakers slightly, while some prefer the Clippers, although most give them equal odds. This despite the fact that the Lakers are outperforming the Clippers quite a bit this season.
Leading the Western Conference with a 33-7 record, they’re almost on par with the Bucks and their game in hand will mean they’ll likely close the game to a single win. They’re also streaking ahead of the rest of the conference, with the Nuggets 6 wins behind in second place. They’re also currently sporting a 9 game winning streak, proving they’re consistent in strength.
The Lakers had a lot of changes heading into the new season, but their fast break points, strong defense, and a focus on scoring solid two-pointers instead of showboating for three has made them strong point scorers.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers were favourites to win the NBA Championship heading into the season. Yet they sit 5th in the Western Conference, with a record of 27-13. They’ve also had some bad losses, including against the Bulls, Pelicans, and Thunder.
This doesn’t mean they should be written off though; in 2014 the Brooklyn Nets comfortably beat the Miami Heat during the regular season, only to be beaten by them in 5 games during the playoffs.
That said, the Clippers lost 10 games before Christmas and they’ve had a 5-3 record since then. Part of this could be put down to a string of tough games in November and December, with some tough teams and several back-to-back games on the road.
Some of their best players have missed a lot of games too; Landry Shamet has missed 17, Paul George has missed 11, and Kawhi Leonard has missed 9. When both Leonard and George have been in the starting lineup, the Clippers have only lost 3 games.
If the Clippers can overcome this plague of injuries then they may be in with a chance of overturning this poor form. Even in fifth place, they could make it into the playoffs, and could still pull off an NBA Championship win.
These three teams are looking the strongest contenders for the championship. The Bucks and the Lakers have had consistent performances so far this regular season, while the Clippers have the potential to be dominant if they can overcome their injury problems.
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