NBA Western Conference Finals Odds: Injury To Chris Paul Shakes Things Up

NBA Western Conference Finals odds for this season are changing every single day. Ryan Kirksey takes a look at how they've been impacted by the recent injury to Chris Paul and who is poised to strike out west.
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NBA Western Conference Finals Odds: Injury To Chris Paul Shakes Things Up

When it was announced mere minutes before the All-Star game that Chris Paul had a right thumb fracture, the reverberations were felt all over the NBA. The prognosis was a 6-to-8-week recovery with the playoffs just seven weeks away. How do the contenders look with this injury news? Here are the top five teams with the best odds to make the Finals.

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Memphis Grizzlies (+1700) (Bet $100 to win $1700)

In their race to catch the Warriors for the Western Conference's 2-seed, the Grizzlies were dealt a big blow last night when they lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Back-to-back losses have dropped them 2.5 games behind Golden State and now the Warriors are almost back to full strength for the stretch run.

Memphis has a strong 3.5-game lead on Utah for the third seed, so they are likely locked into a first-round homecourt advantage. But the issue with the three seed is they will be stuck facing a Phoenix or Golden State on the road no matter what in Round 2.

The good news for Grizzlies' fans is they now average the most points per game among all Western Conference teams (113.8). In February, they have the highest offensive rating and highest rebounding rate among all NBA teams. But among the guaranteed playoff teams, they also allow the most points per game at 109.1 this year.

The time for Ja Morant to have a dominant, long run in the playoffs is coming, but he may take a backseat to Steph Curry and Devin Booker this year.

Denver Nuggets (+1700) (Bet $100 to win $1700)

It's interesting to see the Nuggets with the same odds as the Grizzlies considering Denver sits sixth in the West and Memphis is six games ahead of them. But the current winning streak plus future prospects make the Nuggets look might attractive.

The Nuggets, winners of four in a row, are now in the drivers seat for staying above the play-in line and have an outside shot at passing the Mavericks and Jazz for fourth in the conference. Nikola Jokic has, of course, been playing out of his mind. But more good news may be on the way.

According to Tim Connelly of the Nuggets, both Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. will be cleared soon to play. It will then be up to both of them and their ramp up in conditioning to determine when or if they play. Adding those two players to Jokic and Will Barton would instantly make Denver serious contenders.

Utah Jazz (+700) (Bet $100 to win $700)

The Utah Jazz will perpetually be a "show me" team. They always finish near the top of the Western Conference standings, but run into problems in the postseason. The Jazz haven't even made the Conference Finals since 2007 and there are some MAJOR obstacles in the West this year that look to be in their way again.

However, the Jazz are playing some truly good basketball right now. They rank third in defensive rating and second in offensive rating this month. Donovan Mitchell is health, as is Rudy Gobert. Joe Ingles was a tough loss, but the Jazz hope that Danuel House and Nickeil Alexander-Walker fill that void.

Similar to the Grizzlies, it doesn't take much to imagine the Jazz in the second round this year. But getting past the Suns or Warriors? Seems unlikely assuming both of those teams are fully healthy. If Chris Paul is still injured by round two, that throws a wrench into things, but my expectation is he will be back.

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Phoenix Suns (+220) (Bet $100 to win $220)

The Suns still have an extremely formidable team, if Thursday night's victory without Chris Paul is any indication. Inserting Cam Johnson into the starting lineup can't fully replace Chris Paul, but will certainly be a reasonable stopgap until he is ready.

Looking at present standings, the Suns have opened up a 6.5-game lead on the Warriors for the number on seed in the West. It would be an incredible collapse to see them lose that lead in the last 23 games of the season, so they should keep the homecourt and get Paul back in time for the playoffs to start.

That, to me, makes the Suns the best value on the board right now. They have slightly longer odds than the Warriors and all they care about is having Paul ready for late April. They will have home court and are currently top three in both offensive and defensive rating for the season.

Booker is an elite option to run the offense in the meantime and I would be surprised if the Suns take much of a step back considering their depth.

Golden State Warriors (+210) (Bet $100 to win $210)

The Paul injury did allow the Warriors to baaaaarely inch past the Suns for the best odds to reach the Finals. How good Klay Thompson looks also helps that case as now the Warriors await good news on Draymond Green and James Wiseman.

Ultimately, this made-for-TV, inevitable Western Conference Finals showdown should be one of the best of this generation. The Warriors are 2-1 against the Suns this season with one more matchup to go, so if Golden State has any hope of tying or passing the Suns for homecourt, that game will be a must-win.

Curry's shot looks to be improving, Thompson is up to 30 minutes per night, the Warriors are getting major contributions from guys like Jordan Poole and Otto Porter, and Draymond Green is close to coming back. There is certainly a case that this team should be the favorites out West. But their offense and defense have slipped to middle-of-the-pack this month, showing some kinks in the armor.

The Warriors and Suns are essentially a coin-flip right now for a reason. Both look like potential champions.


Proudest husband and dad you will ever find. When I'm not with my wife and two kids I split my time working in higher ed, grinding DFS and season-long, collecting silver age comics, studying behavioral economics, and drinking coffee. I once played Pat Connaughton in an actual NBA DFS lineup for money. Astros, Rockets, and Texans for life.


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