The Miami Heat are proving that the NBA’s regular season
really doesn’t much matter but that having three superstars trumps all – at
least so far – heading into their NBA Finals matchup against the Dallas
The Heat at one point were 9-8 during the season as LeBron
James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh acclimatised themselves to each other. Miami
had losing streaks of three, four and five games during the season. And the
Heat lost all three meetings with the Chicago Bulls during the year and their
first three against the Boston Celtics.
But things started to change late in the year as the Heat
jelled. That was emphasized by a 100-77 rout of Boston on the final Sunday of
the regular season. And since then, Miami has hardly looked back. After
dispatching of Philadelphia in five games in the Eastern Conference
quarterfinals, the Heat did the same in the conference semis to Boston, a team
that LeBron could never beat while he was in Cleveland. In fact, James said
after the series he signed with Miami specifically to get over the hump that
was the Celtics.
Then the Heat had to deal with the Bulls, who had the NBA’s
best record during the year. After a shocking Game 1 blowout loss, Miami won
the next four – Chicago hadn’t even lost three games in a row all season or two
in a row at home – to advance to the franchise’s first NBA Finals since 2006.
And awaiting the Heat are the Dallas Mavericks, who impressively swept the
two-time champion Lakers out of the Western semifinals before knocking off
Oklahoma City in five games in the conference finals. It’s the Mavs’ first trip
to the Finals since … 2006, when Dallas was up 2-0 in the series against Miami and
appeared set to win Game 3 before coughing up the game and eventually the
series in six games. Only two players from each team remain on the respective
clubs: Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem from Miami and Dirk Nowitzki and Jason
Terry from the Mavericks.
Bodog has opened the series NBA line for this one with Miami as
a -180 favorite, with Dallas at +160. And this despite the fact that the
Mavericks swept the Heat during the regular season, winning 106-95 in Dallas on
Nov. 27 – that was the game that dropped Miami to 9-8 – and 98-96 in Miami on
Dec. 20. Clearly this isn’t the same Heat squad, and those Mavericks had
swingman Caron Butler contributing, and he is out for the season.
We list the most likely series result as the Heat winning in
seven games at +280 in the betting odds. Only two NBA Finals have gone the distance since 2000:
Spurs-Pistons in 2005 and Lakers-Celtics last year. The least likely result? A
Dallas sweep would pay out at +1800. There have been two Finals sweeps since
2000: Lakers over Nets in 2002 and Spurs over LeBron’s Cavaliers in 2007. The
over/under for total games in the series is at 5.5, with the over a big -215
favorite. Of course the Heat have yet to play more than five games in any
series this postseason, while Dallas has done
so just once (first round vs. Portland). The total games in series prop
has six games at +160 a slight favorite over seven games (+165).
As one would expect, both teams’ respective superstars are
the NBA betting favorites to win Finals MVP, with LeBron at +125 and Dirk at +200. LeBron’s
over/under for points averaged in this series is 26.5; he is averaging 26.0 ppg
in the postseason. Nowitzki’s over/under is 25.5; he has been brilliant this
postseason in averaging 28.4 points per game and averaged 32.2 against the
Thunder, scoring at least 40 twice.