All year long, the Phoenix Suns were on a mission to prove last year’s NBA Finals run was no fluke. While a 64-win season was enough to put the “fluke” talk to bed, Sunday’s calamitous showing in Game 7 against the Dallas Mavericks won’t be forgotten any time soon. In fact, calling what the Suns did a “showing” at all is probably giving them too much credit.
Thanks to the heroics of Luka Doncic and Spencer Dinwiddie, the Mavs are primed to make their first Western Conference Finals appearance since 2011. That year, Dallas upended the upstart Thunder on their way to the franchise’s first-ever NBA title. That Mavs team was a memorable one, with Dirk Nowitzki and an eclectic cast of role players going on to beat the LeBron James/Dwyane Wade/Chris Bosh Miami Heat in the Finals. Dallas’ path back to the Finals is a rough one, however. They’ll have to get past a Golden State Warriors team that will be making their first Western Conference Finals trip since 2019. Golden State has won three championships since 2015, though Steph Curry and company are out to prove they can still win it all without Kevin Durant in the mix.
NBA betting sites like Golden State to escape Dallas in this series. The Warriors are listed as -215 favorites to advance, while the Mavericks are +185 long shots. Additionally, Golden State is also favored to win the NBA Finals.
2022 NBA Western Conference Finals Odds
|Golden State Warriors||-215|
|50% up to $1,000|
|125% up to $2,500|
|100% up to $1,000|
|100% up to $500|
|50% up to $1,000|
Can Luka Keep It Going?
At this point, it’s fair to say Luka Doncic is the best player left in the playoffs. With one superstar playing the best basketball of his career and a cavalcade of helpful, veteran role players, the 2022 Mavs look eerily similar to the 2011 squad that won it all.
Doncic refused to be denied on Sunday in Phoenix, finishing with 35 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists in just 30 minutes of action in the Mavs’ 123-90 demolition of the Suns.
Luka Doncic in elimination games:
His 38.3 PPG is the highest in NBA history. pic.twitter.com/FkO3dsDX7T
— StatMuse (@statmuse) May 16, 2022
Doncic is averaging nearly 33 points per game across 23 career playoff outings, which is the second-highest scoring average for any player in NBA postseason history.
I’d say that’s some pretty heady company for the Mavs’ young superstar. The Warriors finished tied with the Celtics for the NBA’s best defensive rating during the regular season.
The expected absence of Gary Payton II – arguably Golden State’s top perimeter defender – won’t help the Warriors’ chances of limiting Luka, however. Andrew Wiggins may begin the series as the Dubs’ primary defender against Doncic, but we can expect Draymond Green and Klay Thompson to get their chances, as well.
Doncic averaged 31.5 points in four regular-season meetings against Golden State. His 126 total points against the Warriors were the most any player has scored against this team since Steve Kerr took over in 2014.
While Payton’s status for the series is up in the air, the Warriors are expecting Andre Iguodala to return at some point early in the series from a neck issue.
Iguodala is no longer in his prime, but he does give Kerr another long defender to throw at Doncic. Otto Porter Jr. is also set to return for Game 1 of the Dallas series after missing Games 5 and 6 against the Grizzlies with a sore foot. These Warriors may not be quite as dominant as the Durant-led teams we saw toward the end of the previous decade, but there’s still no shortage of firepower here.
Steph Curry averaged a healthy 26 points per game against the Grizzlies despite not shooting up to his lofty standards (41.8 percent from the field, 32.6 percent from three-point range).
On this day 6 years ago, Stephen Curry shot 0-9 from 3 after the first three quarters.
He ended the game with 40 points and an NBA record 17 points in overtime. pic.twitter.com/UWiJAjrpdk
— WarriorsMuse (@WarriorsMuse) May 10, 2022
Fortunately, Golden State has Thompson, Wiggins, and Jordan Poole here to pick up the slack if and when Curry struggles with his shooting stroke. Poole, a third-year guard from Michigan, has been a revelation this season.
After averaging a career-best 18.5 points per game during the season, Poole has upped his scoring average to 19.4 points per game during Golden State’s run to the conference finals. Interestingly enough, the Warriors lost three of their four regular-season meetings to the Mavs during the regular season. That includes defeats in both games in Dallas, as well as each of the final two matchups of the campaign.
The Mavs’ 110.5 defensive rating since January 1st is the fourth-best mark in the league. Given their massive defensive improvement and Golden State’s occasional issues with turnovers, the Mavs could give the Dubs some problems defensively in this matchup.
Who Will Win the Western Conference?
The Warriors are deserving favorites here. This team has more playoff experience than any of the four remaining squads in either conference. That said, Golden State did finish just one game ahead of Dallas in the regular-season standings.
It’s safe to assume the likes of Curry, Thompson, and Green won’t no-show the way the Suns did in Game 7 against the Mavericks. That said, it’s also fair to say oddsmakers are underrating Dallas a bit as +185 underdogs to win this series.
I like Dallas as a +185 value to get past Golden State and into the Finals for the first time in over a decade. The Warriors winning the series is probably the more likely outcome, but I can’t ignore the value in the Mavericks’ odds.
The Western Conference has ruled the NBA for the better part of two decades. Since Michael Jordan’s legendary run with the Chicago Bulls came to an end, most of the NBA’s dynasties have come out of the West. Teams like the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers, and Golden State Warriors have dominated the league in recent years.
However, the tide finally seems to be turning. While the West still has a number of title contenders entering the 2022 playoffs, the overall depth of the conference lacks in comparison to the East for the first time in recent memory. The Eastern Conference playoffs are shaping up to be an epic war between a number of titans. The West, meanwhile, looks like the Phoenix Suns followed in a distant fashion by everybody else.
Of course, the Suns’ path to a second straight NBA Finals berth won’t be an easy one. Phoenix is favored in the latest NBA Western Conference odds, but we watch sports because nobody ever really knows what’s going to happen. The Suns didn’t face much adversity on their way to a Western Conference title a season ago, but every year is different.
Opening NBA Western Conference Betting Odds
Remarkably, just two of the franchises listed above have won an NBA championship in the last decade. The Warriors, of course, won three times between 2015 and 2018. The Spurs claimed the 2014 title, as well. Otherwise, we’ve got a bunch of teams looking to win it all for the first time in a very long time.
Phoenix Suns (+120)
It’s wild to see the Suns at a little better than even-money NBA Western Conference odds, but it’s hard to argue against it, either. Phoenix ran away with the best record in the NBA this season at 64-18. No other team in the league won more than 56 games.
It most recently occurred in 2017 when the Kevin Durant-led Warriors won it all on the heels of their 73-win year the season before. Some said the Suns’ run to last year’s Finals was fueled by fortune, but their 64-win season should have silenced those doubters long ago.
100+ assists from one player to a single teammate, 2021-22. Jokic appears 5 times (twice each w/ Morris & Barton) on this list. Trae Young had 100+ assists to 4 different teammates, while Chris Paul had 130+ to 3 different guys. pic.twitter.com/DRubGASVPN
— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) April 11, 2022
Chris Paul, who turns 37 in May, is largely responsible for the Suns’ turnaround over the past couple of years. Phoenix has won an NBA-best 74 percent of its games since Paul arrived prior to the 2020-21 campaign.
Utah ranks a distant second in that span with a winning percentage of about 65 percent. Assuming they stay healthy – which is a big “if” considering CP3’s unfortunate injury history – it’s hard to imagine anybody in the West having enough two-way firepower to oust the Suns.
This team has been on a mission all year long. Given the relative weakness of the rest of the West, the Suns’ +120 NBA Western Conference betting odds are still advantageous enough to be worth a wager.
Golden State Warriors (+415)
If any Western foe eventually knocks off the Suns, top NBA sportsbooks think the Warriors (+415) have the best chance. Golden State appeared primed to hang with Phoenix at the top of the standings early in the year, but injuries have ravaged the Dubs ever since.
The Warriors say Curry could return in time for the Warriors’ first-round playoff series against the Nuggets, but his availability will go down to the wire ahead of Game 1 this weekend. Golden State went just 8-10 in the 18 games Curry missed this season, so his availability is rather important to the team’s chances of getting back to the top of the Western Conference.
When Steph returns and whether he plays up to his caliber when he does are two huge question marks looming over the Warriors entering the playoffs. If they’re healthy, they’re capable of giving Phoenix a legitimate run. Golden State is a fine value to advance to the Finals given their +415 Western Conference odds, but they’re not my favorite bet on the board, either.
Memphis Grizzlies (+475)
The Grizzlies finished with the second-best record in the league at 56-26 on the year. This is in spite of the fact that Ja Morant, a legitimate MVP candidate, missed 25 games with a few injuries. However, Memphis went an incredible 20-5 in the games he missed. Not only is that a testament to the outstanding work of head coach Taylor Jenkins, but it’s a sign that the Grizzlies are arguably the NBA’s deepest team.
The Grizzlies have cobbled together a versatile and talented supporting cast over the past couple of seasons. Morant and Jackson were high lottery picks, but none of the other regulars in the Memphis rotation entered the league with much fanfare.
Grizzlies drop 55 points in the third quarter ?
Three shy of the NBA record… pic.twitter.com/MGOJnrGWTU
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 10, 2022
Oddsmakers are still reluctant to buy what the Grizz are selling. I suppose we’re supposed to think this team winning 56 games was just a fluke? What I see is a young team out to prove they belong in the conversation as a real championship contender.
The average age of the Grizzlies’ rotation players is barely north of 24 years old. The lack of playoff experience could come back to bite them at some point, but Memphis has also fared well against the rest of the NBA’s elite.
The Grizz went 28-18 against teams with winning records this season. The Suns (31-13) were the only team with a superior record against such foes.
If you want a value bet, look no further than the Grizzlies’ +475 Western Conference odds. This team need not be doubted anymore.
Dallas Mavericks (+1000)
The Mavericks managed to fly under the radar for most of the season despite the presence of Luka Doncic, arguably the league’s most popular young player. All Luka did in his fourth NBA season was average 28.4 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 8.7 assists per game. He’s still only 23.
Unfortunately, Doncic injured his calf in the Mavs’ season finale against San Antonio on Sunday night. The injury doesn’t appear to be serious, but he is still a question mark ahead of Game 1 of the Mavs’ first-round series against Utah. Luka is slated to get an MRI in order to get a better idea of the severity of the injury this week.
There’s initial optimism that Dallas star Luka Doncic hasn’t suffered a significant injury, source tells ESPN. Team is calling it a strained left calf.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 11, 2022
Of course, the results of that scan will go a long way toward determining just how viable the Mavs are as a candidate to make a playoff run. If Doncic misses any games, Dallas suddenly looks like an extremely risky bet to even advance through the first round.
Playoff success has eluded the Mavericks for a while now. Dallas is an interesting sleeper team at their current long NBA Western Conference Finals odds, but it’s probably not a great sign that their hopes hinge greatly on the results of Doncic’s MRI.
Denver Nuggets (+1200)
Unfortunately, reinforcements don’t seem to be on the way for the Nuggets. Denver has hoped all year long that Jamal Murray and/or Michael Porter Jr. would be healthy enough to return for the playoffs. Sadly, the team said over the weekend it doesn’t expect either of them to suit up before next season. Welp!
As long as Nikola Jokic is upright, the Nuggets will always have a chance. Unfortunately, this team really suffers whenever Jokic hits the bench. Rotations tend to tighten in the playoffs, but Mike Malone can’t reasonably expect Jokic to play 45 minutes a game. In terms of net rating, the 2021-22 Nuggets are 19.5 points per 100 possessions better with Jokic on the floor than they are with him off of it.
That’s the definition of a Most Valuable Player, which is probably why Jokic is now a heavy minus-money favorite to win MVP for the second straight year. As is the case with the Mavericks, though, the Nuggets’ heavy reliance on one player likely means this team isn’t championship material.
Utah Jazz (+1200)
Is this the end of an era in Utah? Perhaps. Quin Snyder has helped turn the Jazz into a consistent winner over the half-decade, but this franchise is still searching for its first-ever title. Utah hasn’t even appeared in the Finals since 1998, either.
If the Jazz endure another early playoff exit – which is entirely possible considering they’re the No. 5 seed – changes are almost sure to follow this summer. The Jazz are dangerous if they suddenly put it all together, but I certainly don’t have much faith that this is finally the year they do it. Pass on Utah at their current +1200 NBA Western Conference odds.
Los Angeles Clippers (+1600)
The LA Clippers might be the biggest question mark in the Western Conference playoffs. Paul George and Norman Powell recently returned from long-term injuries, but we still have no confirmation that Kawhi Leonard is on the verge of doing the same. Leonard hasn’t played all year after he tore his ACL in last year’s playoffs.
- If Leonard comes back, the Clippers undoubtedly have a championship-caliber roster.
- Without him, they may not win a single series.
Leonard surely won’t be ready for the play-in tournament, which begins on Tuesday when the Clippers head to Minneapolis for a date with the Timberwolves.
If they lose, they’ll face the winner of the New Orleans/San Antonio game for the rights to face the Suns in the first round of the playoffs. So, LAC’s path to the playoffs still isn’t an easy one from here, which makes their road to the Finals a very complicated one.
Games missed for the Clippers this season:
Kawhi Leonard: 82
Paul George: 51
Marcus Morris Sr: 28
Nicolas Batum: 23
Normal Powell: 23
— The Lob, The Jam, The Podcast (@TheLobTheJamPod) April 11, 2022
Needless to say, an awful lot needs to go right for the Clippers in order for this to be the year they finally get to the Finals. 11 consecutive winning seasons has helped the Clippers shed their reputation as a perennial loser.
The Clippers’ +1600 NBA Western Conference betting odds surely account for the remote possibility Kawhi returns at some point soon. The clock is ticking, however, and I’m not sure those odds account for all of the risk involved in the wager.
Minnesota Timberwolves (+4000)
The Timberwolves have made the playoffs just once since 2004, so their 2021-22 season will go down as a success regardless of what happens from here on out. Chris Finch inked a much-deserved contract extension on Monday, and Minnesota is favored to get past LA in the play-in on Tuesday.
The most likely outcome here is the T-Wolves get past Los Angeles before falling to Memphis in the first round. The Timberwolves do have a few star-level talents around which to build over the next few years, but this team isn’t championship material just yet.
New Orleans Pelicans (+17500)
Like the Clippers, the Pelicans are still waiting on their best player to return.
However, the team has still given no official timetable for when Williamson may make his season debut.
— Zion Williamson FanPage (@zionheadlines) April 11, 2022
The Pelicans are a solid team without Zion, but they can’t win the Western Conference title without him. The West is weak enough to where a Cinderella-like playoff run from this team wouldn’t be the most shocking outcome.
Considering the Pels still need to win twice just for the rights to advance and face the Suns in the first round, though, I’m not too keen on their chances.
San Antonio Spurs (+40000)
Congrats to the Spurs on qualifying for the play-in tournament.
However, this is still a team that finished the season 14 games under the .500 mark.
This is not a good basketball squadron.
Who Will Win the Western Conference?
Clearly, the NBA Western Conference odds suggest the title is the Suns’ to lose, and with good reason.
I will gladly bet on those +120 odds on Phoenix to represent the West in the Finals for the second season in a row.
If you want a safe bet, go for the Suns. If you’re looking for a flier with upside, look no further than the Grizzlies. The best bets to win the West this year are listed below: