The Pacific Division has long been one of the stronger divisions in the NBA. Rotating between the Suns, Warriors and Lakers, the last eight NBA Finals have seen the Western Conference represented by the division.
The cyclical nature of the NBA — and the Kings always being bad — meant that the division rarely saw all five teams field competitors at the same time. This season, though, represents an opportunity for the division to make NBA history to become one of a short list to put every team in the postseason.
The Lakers’ recent surge has made things awfully interesting in the playoff chase. On a much, much smaller note, it has made the race for the Pacific Division title much tighter. The entire division is separated by just seven games between the Kings at the top and the Lakers at the bottom.
Our friends at DraftKings have the odds for the winner of the Pacific Division with the Suns the favorites at -220 despite being 2.5 games back of the Kings as things stand. Sacramento is second +180, then it takes a hefty jump to the Warriors (+2800), Clippers (+6500) and Lakers (+25000). It’s hard to say there’s a bad bet considering how close the division is right now and how chaotic the Western Conference has been.
And because of that, this also could end in all five teams finishing in the playoffs. As things stand, the Kings, Suns and Warriors are in the playoffs while the Clippers and the Lakers are the eighth and ninth seeds, respectively. The Lakers, Kings and Suns are all 7-3 in their last 10 games and are surging. The concern right now is the Clippers, who are 3-7 in their last 10 and falling rapidly down the standings.
It’s a rare feat for all five teams to make the playoffs for a number of reasons. Obviously, there are only eight spots and five teams in a division. And if a division is full of good teams, they’re going to beat each other up and make their record worse. For all five to make the playoffs, they have to really beat up everyone else.
Because of all of that, it’s only happened a handful of times. In 2014-15, the entire Southwest Division made the playoffs and in 2005-2006, the Central Division accomplished the feat. Those are the only two occurrences in the last 35 years.
Will this be the third time since 1986? Time will tell, but the Pacific Division is making a strong case.
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