There are only a few weeks remaining in the 2021-22 NBA regular season and while division titles don’t mean all that much these days – Adam Silver has talked about eliminating divisions altogether eventually, there are two legitimate races left: In the Atlantic and Northwest. Check back for the NBA odds.
NBA 2022 divisional odds
As of this writing Philadelphia and Boston are tied for first in the Atlantic, but the Celtics just lost starting center and NBA Defensive Player of the Year candidate Robert Williams perhaps for the season. That tips the scales to the 76ers in my mind. Toronto is 3.5 games back but isn’t making that amount of games up with so little time remaining.
One nice offshoot of the James Harden trade for the Sixers is that Matisse Thybulle — in the 14 games played with Harden — has significantly improved in nearly every single statistical category. He is averaging 7.2 points per game. That doesn’t sound like much but Thybulle has also broken double digits in 6 out of 14 games with Harden. In the 45 games this season without Harden, Thybulle is averaging only 5.5 points per game, dropping 13 or more points only once. Without Harden, Thybulle has only scored double-digit points 5 times.
However, in the 76ers’ last 10 games — of which Harden has played in nine — they are 6-4 with a pedestrian +0.3 net rating and an offense ranked 18th in the league over that stretch. The eye test backs that up, they have been good but not great. Philadelphia is not striking fear into the hearts of other contenders out of the East, as their offense still feels disjointed for stretches and the defense has clear places opponents can attack.
“We have to improve as a team on both ends,” Coach Doc Rivers said. “Our pace has to improve offensively, our spacing has to improve offensively, continuity has to improve offensively. Defensively, our transition is getting better actually — it could only go one way since we were 29th [in the league] — we’re rebounding a little bit better, but there are things we have to do better.”
Philadelphia is the -155 division favorite with Boston at +105. We like the Sixers.
Utah’s Donovan Mitchell is averaging 12.7 points per contest as the ball-handler in pick-and-roll play types, which is second-best in the NBA and he holds the highest effective field goal percentage (54.3) of the top five players in that category. Mitchell is only the fifth NBA player to total over 8,000 points, 1,500 assists and 1,400 rebounds through their first career 338 contests, joining LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson.
Rudy Gobert is currently averaging 15.4 points on 71.2 percent from the field while grabbing 14.6 rebounds. He’s on pace to become the only player in NBA history to average 15 points and 14 boards while also shooting better than 70 percent from the field.
Utah and Denver are done playing in the regular season and the Jazz won all four so they claim any tiebreaker. Over his last seven games, rookie Bones Hyland is the Nuggets second leading scorer, averaging 16.4 points, 4.6 assists and 3.3 rebounds while shooting 51.9% from the field and 50.0% from three in 23.9 minutes. Bones has also surpassed Jamal Murray’s franchise record for most three-pointers in a rookie season and he leads the NBA with the most 4+ three-point games (12) this season among rookies.
Nuggets center Nikola Jokic still has a shot to catch Philly’s Joel Embiid to win MVP honors and repeat. In its latest straw poll of 100 media members, ESPN found 62 first-place votes and 860 overall points for Jokic, putting him ahead of Embiid, who had 29 first-place votes and 719 points, and the Bucks‘ Giannis Antetokounmpo with nine first-place votes and 593 points.
Jokic’s statistics are nearly identical to last season as he’s averaging 26.3 points and 8.0 assists to go with a career-high 13.6 rebounds per game. He has kept Denver in the playoff race despite injuries to Jamal Murray and Michael Porter, but his candidacy could suffer if the Nuggets fall into the play-in tournament.
Utah will win the Northwest.