As we head towards the midway stage of the NBA regular season, things are hotting up at the top of both the Eastern and Western Conferences.
Golden State have been reeled in at summit in the West, whilst long-time leaders Brooklyn are no longer on top in the East.
The Nets and Warriors are still at the head of the outright betting, 49/20 and 11/2 respectively, but are the favourites in danger from the chasing pack?
Dallas and Memphis on a Roll
There are now just five games separating first to fourth in the Western Conference, with Golden State Warriors losing three of their eight games over Christmas and New Year.
Dallas Mavericks were the latest team to beat them, on Wednesday night, and they are one of the teams making real headway in the West.
Jason Kidd’s men have improved to a 20-18 record and have some favourable fixtures over the next couple of weeks and are now available at 1/1 to record over 45.5 regular season victories.
Kidd was a 10-time All Star point guard and, in Luka Doncic, is working with one of the top players in that position in the NBA. Doncic scored 26 points in the win over GSW and is key to their title hopes.
Another team showing their threat are Memphis Grizzlies, who are currently on a six-game winning streak. The Grizzlies have only reached the play-offs once in the last four seasons, but they are now 22/1 to win the Western Conference.
In Ja Morant, Memphis have one of the young stars of the league. The 22-year-old was named NBA Rookie of the Year in 2020 and scored 36 points in the recent 104-118 win over the Nets.
Second-placed Phoenix, beaten NBA finalists last season, also look intent on going deep again and certainly have the roster to challenge for the main prize.
The likes of Devin Booker and Chris Paul have proved their quality in the last couple of years and the Suns are now 15/2 to lift the Larry O’Brien Trophy in 2022.
Bulls Looking Strong in Tight Eastern Battle
Most people have been waiting for Chicago to slip away from the top of the Eastern Conference, but the Bulls are now convincing the pundits that they are genuine contenders.
At the time of writing, Billy Donovan’s squad are on an eight-game winning streak with a 25-10 record. The Bulls have only failed to score 100-plus points in seven games to date and have two players in the top 10 of NBA top-points scorers.
DeMar DeRozan, who is 24/1 to be regular season MVP, is fourth with an average of 26.9 per game, while Zach LaVine is averaging 26.3 points. With guard Alex Caruso also joint top of the steals standings, you can see why the Bulls are into 21/1 to win their first title since the Michael Jordan era.
Chicago’s main two rivals in the East look to be Brooklyn and defending champions Milwaukee, who clash in New York on Saturday.
The Nets go into the clash with Kevin Durant back on top form, after bagging 39 points in the win over Indiana, whilst the Bucks head to Brooklyn off the back of a defeat in Toronto.
It’s also worth keeping an eye on the Philadelphia 76ers, who are up to fifth after a five-game winning run and have Joel Embiid back on top form. The man from Cameroon has scored 31-plus points in his last five games and the 76ers are now 10/1 to win the Eastern Conference.
*All odds correct at time of writing.