1. Miami Heat +250 (5/2)
2. Los Angeles Lakers +350 (7/2)
3. Orlando Magic +800 (8/1)
4. Boston Celtics +900 (9/1)
5. Chicago Bulls +1300 (13/1)
6. Dallas Mavericks +1300 (13/1)
7. OKC Thunder +1300 (13/1); +1800 with Bodog
8. Denver Nuggets +1700 (17/1)
9. San Antonio Spurs +2000 (20/1)
With the free agent signings of Lebron James and Chris Bosh the Heat catapulted into the favorite's role. With Dwyane Wade already in Miami, the Heat have a fantastic nucleus and some are saying the groundwork has been laid for a dynasty.
James and Bosh have never won an NBA Championship before but Wade did win one a few years ago alongside Shaquille O'Neal. That might help deflect some "can't win it all" type pressure away from James and Bosh as the Heat have a key player that is a proven winner.
+250 are not the greatest odds in the world especially since 3 of the other 4 favorites besides the Heat are in the Eastern Conference. Whether the Heat have the best team or not, they are going to have a tougher schedule than the Los Angeles Lakers and that might cost the Heat home court advantage in a possible 2011 finals match-up as LA should pad their winning percentage against weaker Western Conference opponents.
Also, the Heat can be criticized for lacking a center that can be called a true starter as Dexter Pittman is a rookie, picked 32nd overall, and Jamaal Magloire is washed up.
However the starting point guard on opening day will probably be Mario Chalmers, a player whose numbers can be expected to improve as defenders will have to sag away from Chalmers in every direction with James, Bosh, and Wade on the court.
Here's what to expect out of the Heat for a starting lineup:
PG - Chalmers
SG - Wade
SF - LeBron
PF - Bosh
C - Pittman?
If Chalmers, who suffered an injury in 2009-10, improves then the Heat's starting 5 will be unstoppable. The rookie center won't hurt with 3 super stars and one solid player starting provided that Pittman follows orders and contributes simply by not doing anything stupid.
The gamble with the Heat is that after the starting lineup the Heat's bench is hardly loaded with talent and injuries could expose that lack of depth.
However injuries are random and the possibility is faced by all teams. With James, Bosh, and Wade all logging big minutes depth won't matter and this team just needs to stay healthy and avoid foul trouble.
Our recommendation is to pound the Miami Thrice at +250 (5/2) with Bwin and cover with a sprinkle on the OKC Thunder who are priced at +1800 (18/1) with Bodog. Miami have opened as short as +175 (7/4; Bodog) with sportsbooks besides Bwin so even if +250 seems short, it isn't that bad of a price
Article courtesy of Bodog@ crunchsports.com