- The Western Conference has won the last two NBA championships
- Oddsmakers see that trend continuing, offering a prop bet heavily favoring Western teams
- Western teams are 8-1 in the last nine NBA Finals games
East is east and west is west and never the twain shall meet, so the saying goes. But there’s a much different axiom currently in vogue in the NBA. It says east is least and west is best, and oddsmakers expect that train to keep rolling.
The sportsbooks have established the Western Conference as heavy favorites to win the 2018-19 NBA championship.
2019 NBA Finals Championship Odds
|Which Conference Will Produce the Next NBA Champion?
Four of the last five NBA champions have come out of the West.
How The West Has Won
While the NHL is trending eastward, with three straight Stanley Cup champions being produced by the Eastern Conference, the NBA has gone completely in the opposite direction when it comes to the geography of its champs. The Western Conference has captured seven NBA titles since 2009 and produced 13 champions since 2000.
20 percent of the NBA season is over, and Portland, the Clippers and Memphis are tied for the lead in the Western Conference just like absolutely no one expected.
— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) November 20, 2018
The Golden State Warriors have reached four straight NBA Finals and won three of them, including the last two, and oddsmakers anticipate that will continue, establishing the Warriors as the prohibitive -140 chalk to win the title again this spring.
But the West was best long before the Warriors ruled the roost. The Los Angeles Lakers (five) and San Antonio Spurs (four) have both won multiple titles since 2000. And none of those teams are currently on top, showing exactly how deep the group is from top to bottom.
Is There a Beast in the East?
No one is saying that there aren’t some very good teams in the East. In fact, oddsmakers currently put the Toronto Raptors as their second betting choice to win the NBA title at +900.
The Eastern Conference is 6-14 in the last 20 NBA Finals.
It’s just that no team in the East has truly established themselves as the team to beat. The Raptors have never been able to put it all together in the postseason and the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, and Milwaukee Bucks still need to prove that they are ready for prime time.
The LeBron Factor
Neither of the last two champions from the East, the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Miami Heat, can be considered legitimate contenders, and in fact their falls from grace resonates with another factor the West can count in its favor – King James now resides there.
The decision by LeBron James to join the Lakers after playing his entire 15-season NBA career in the East was a crushing blow. At least with James on their side, the East was in with a puncher’s chance. His teams represented the East the last eight finals and provided the conference with its last three NBA champions.
The 2007-08 Celtics were the last NBA champion from the East that didn’t suit up James.