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How will the West be won?

With the NBA season coming to a close, the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference is all but sewed up, as the Boston Celtics own a 9.5-game lead as of Friday afternoon.

The Western Conference, however, is a different story, as the top four teams — the Nuggets, Thunder, Timberwolves and Clippers — are all within four games of each other.

As of Friday afternoon, OKC and Denver lead the standings at 46-20 with the Thunder holding the tiebreaker. Minnesota is a game behind them and the Clippers are three-and-a-half games back.

Let’s check out the odds for who will win the Western Conference at DraftKings Sportsbook.

WESTERN CONFERENCE NO. 1 SEED: *

Denver Nuggets: -245 (bet $10 to win $14.08 total)
Oklahoma City Thunder: +270 (bet $10 to win $37 total)
Minnesota Timberwolves: +1200 (bet $10 to win $130 total)
LA Clippers: +3000 (bet $10 to win $310 total)

* odds as of 3/15/24

It appears injuries will play at least some role in the race to win the top seed in the conference.

Last week, the Wolves lost All-Star center Karl Anthony-Towns to a torn left meniscus. He underwent a surgical procedure to repair the meniscus, and Minnesota is holding out hope that he can return for the playoffs. 

On Tuesday, Clippers All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard left LA’s game against Minnesota after the first quarter due to back spasms. He did not return that night, but he suited up Thursday and dropped 27 points on 12-17 shooting as the Clippers defeated the Chicago Bulls. 

In terms of Denver and OKC, they’ve faced off four times this season, with OKC winning three of those matchups. If they finish the season with the exact same record, OKC will win the tiebreaker due to head-to-head record. 

As of Friday, according to Tankathon.com, the Thunder have the tenth-toughest remaining schedule. The Clippers have the 15th, the Wolves have the 18th, and the Nuggets have the 25th. 

Minnesota and Denver will face off three more times (Minnesota won their first matchup), and the Clippers and Denver will face off once more (Denver leads the season series 2-1).

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