We are now at the midpoint of the NBA’s regular season for 2019/20. With most teams having played over 40 games, we’re starting to gain a better understanding of the teams that are likely to make it into this year’s playoffs, and who will be crowned the NBA Champions for 2019/20.
Some have been favourites from the beginning, others have emerged as contenders as the season has progressed. While others appear to have faltered so far, but still have time to recover.
Here are the four teams that are looking most likely to win the championship as we head into the second half of the regular season.
Los Angeles Lakers
The LA Lakers have been one of the two favourites to win this year’s NBA Championship since before the season began.
They entered 2019/20 with a lot of changes to their lineup, leading some to question if they would be able to perform out of the box, or whether there would need to be a period of bedding-in to get the best from their new team.
These concerns were soon put to rest though. They have performed well in their first 40 games, winning all but 7 of them, leading Utah Jazz by 5 wins in the Western Conference. They’ve also been consistent in their performance, boasting a streak of nine victories, and similar home and away records of 16-4 and 17-3 respectively.
The LA Lakers have a strong defense, which is complemented by fast paced play and solid strategy of scoring from the paint instead of showboating for three pointers. This has made them favourites to win the Western Conference, and joint favourites to win the NBA Championship.
Los Angeles Clippers
Like their LA neighbours, the Los Angeles Clippers are looking strong for the NBA Championship. In fact, sports bookmaker, Marathonbet, currently has the two sides on equal odds for taking victory this June.
Unlike their neighbours though, the Clippers have not had the best start to their season. They currently sit 4th in the Western Conference behind the Lakers, Jazz and the Nuggets. They lost 10 of their games in the run up to Christmas, and have only managed to win about half of their games since then.
They have a 28-13 record, which while not spectacular is still a solid foundation to go into the second half of the season with. They had a gruelling schedule towards the end of 2019, including several back to back games on the road. With that behind them they may be able to turn this around, especially with some of their top players returning from injury.
Meanwhile, in the Eastern Conference the Bucks currently have the best record of the entire NBA this season. With a 36-6 record, they’ve played 2 more games that the Lakers, but after accounting for this they still have 1 more win.
They now have a 9-win lead over the Celtics, who are second in the Eastern Conference. Because of this, they are clear favourites to win their conference, showing themselves as serious contenders for the NBA Championship. Some bookmakers have them as third favourite, behind the two LA teams, while others are now considering the Bucks as the ones most likely to win.
While the 76ers are another contender, they trail behind the other three in terms of success on the court and favourability amongst bookmakers. They currently sit sixth in the Eastern Conference with a 25-16 record, having lost their last 2 games.
Despite this, the 76ers coach, Brett Brown is confident that his team can turn their fortunes around. This would not be the first time the team has turned around a bad start to the season, in 2017/18 they turned a 14-18 start into a 52-30 record at the end of the regular season, and put in a respectable performance during the playoffs.
The Lakers, Clippers and Bucks are looking the strongest of these four teams for the time being, but things could change over the next 40 or so games.