Clippers Take the Lead in Competitive Western Conference

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With the NBA season in full swing, we have taken a look at the state of play and which teams may contend the NBA Finals.

Tyronn Lue

The Los Angeles Clippers are the new leaders in the Western Conference after Utah Jazz’s 11-game winning streak was brought to an end in Denver.

The LA Lakers had led the way in the West but back-to-back defeats at Philadelphia 76ers and Detroit Pistons saw the Jazz seize the initiative.

The Clippers moved to the top of the pile with a 129-115 win at New York Knicks on Sunday and Utah then missed the chance to reclaim top spot as the Nuggets halted their winning run with a 128-117 win in Denver.

The Clippers could well be a strong option at 5/1 to win the Championship outright given the presence of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in their roster.

Last season, the LA outfit were rated as favourites for much of the season but they fell short in the postseason and threw away a 3-1 series lead against the Nuggets in the Conference Semifinals.

With two-time Finals MVP Leonard and playoff specialist George on their team, they will always be a threat, particularly after the regular season has reached a conclusion.

The Lakers remain the favourites at 12/5 ahead of Brooklyn Nets at 18/5. With their ‘Big Three’ of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and James Harden, the Nets have to be rated as a serious contender but they need to improve defensively, as demonstrated by their 149-146 loss to a Russell Westbrook-inspired Washington Wizards on Sunday.

Lakers Bid to Close Gap on Clippers

The Lakers can move ahead of the Jazz into second spot in the West on Monday night when they make the trip to Atlanta Hawks.

The Jazz are next in action on Tuesday when they host Detroit, while there is also a huge match-up between the Nets and the Clippers in Brooklyn that night.

The Lakers will be looking to go on another winning run after a hard-fought victory at Boston Celtics last time out but they may face a battle to overcome the Hawks, who have four wins in their last five home games.

The Hawks are 9/5 in the Money Line and the Lakers are 20/43, with the visitors 25/28 with a -5 handicap in the Point Spread.

Bulls Bid to Snap Losing Streak

The Chicago Bulls have struggled in the absence of injured center Wendell Carter Jr with no like-for-like replacement to take on his defensive duties. Chicago have lost their last three games, but they came close in a one-point loss to Portland Trail Blazers last time out and the visit of New York Knicks offers a chance to get back to winning ways for Billy Donovan’s Bulls.

Chicago’s home form is a concern as they have just two wins in 10 attempts so far but most of those games have been fairly close. The Knicks are 1-4 in their last five games and the Bulls will be confident they can improve on their home record on Monday.

Chicago are 10/19 in the Money Line and guard Zach LaVine, who is averaging 26.9 points-per-game this season, is 20/23 to manage over 25.5 points.

*All odds correct at time of writing.

A sports journalist for over 15 years, Aidan has been part of written and audio coverage on a wide-ranging number of events. Having played and coached at amateur level, he offers in-depth insight and opinion into the world of football in particular.

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