Heat is on!

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Bookies deal with new NBA

In a week normally reserved for the finalization of All-Star rosters, triple-A transactions and the always dependable athlete involved in a jurisprudence story, last week’s LeBron James announcement that he was leaving Cleveland and going to Miami shook up the sports world.

Las Vegas played a role in the analysis of “The Decision” because the readjusted, or debut, of our sports book odds to win the 2010-11 NBA Championship.

The odds were used as a barometer in debate for just about every national and local sports talk show with point and counterpoint arguments that both the hosts of the shows, and callers, all had strong opinions about.

Just after the LeBron infomercial was over, ESPN released MGM Resorts readjusted odds on the scrolling ticker below showing that the Miami Heat was the 9 to 5 favorite to win the title next year, followed by the two-time defending champion Lakers at 3 to 1.

The initial reaction was disbelief. How can a team that only has four players on its roster, despite how talented the group of three players are, pass the Champs as the favorite? They aren’t even a team yet and no one has seen the three play together, except in international competition as members of the USA squad in the Olympics.

One of the biggest factors to weigh when creating futures odds is not necessarily predicting who will win, but predicting who the public will bet. The Miami Trio of Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron pack a powerful punch of perception with the betting world. Regardless of the rookies and bottom of the barrel cast-off veterans that the Heat get to finalize their roster, the three are respected so much by the public that the demand far outweighs the supply, so the odds have to be low.

Another factor in the low odds is the extended liability that some of the sports books already have on the Heat. Half the sports books in Las Vegas didn’t put a line up of the NBA Championship odds, and you can’t blame them. There has never been this type of situation where the balance of the league was resting with two prominent players waiting to decide who they would play for.

The books that did open Championship odds before all the decisions had the Heat anywhere from 40-1 to 25-1 opening odds and they were bet pretty well.

From the bettors perspective, it was like taking a free shot. It was likely that LeBron was going to end up at one of five teams with one of those being Miami at odds that were high; why not take a chance regardless of whether or not you truly believe it can happen. It gives the bettor tremendous flexibility down the road to hedge during the playoffs and make easy money.

As for the possibilities of the Heat winning, well, let’s just say it will be slim and that the value rests with all the playoff caliber teams behind them.

By having two huge favorites up top, the odds to win index has to have more value placed within the teams below them. A fair theoretic hold for the NBA Futures should rest at about 32%. Not all the sports books in Las Vegas abide by that philosophy, but the ones that care about their image work hard to keep the futures fair and balanced.

The Heat will likely win 50 or more games this season and will be sitting with a top seed in the Eastern conference once the playoffs begin. The biggest dynamic of it all is how well these three play together. Will LeBron or Wade defer to each other for the team’s sake and have no problem watching their career scoring average drop in the process. LeBron stated that he had “pressure to score 30 points a night” and now he doesn’t.

How about the pressure that LeBron brought to himself and his team with his ESPN infomercial? He’s now put a bulls-eye on his chest, made nearly half of the borderline NBA fans turn against him, and he’s worried about not having the pressure to score 30 points a night. Isn’t that what superstars do, score 30 points a night?

If LeBron James thought he felt pressure scoring 30 points/game in the regular season, wait until he feels the pressure of the nation rooting against him in a game seven during the playoffs. He hasn’t exactly been the superstar like a Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant in the clutch situations, but then again, maybe that is exactly why he went to Wade’s team. Maybe he knows he doesn’t have that special gene in him that make legends out of the small few.

Whatever the case may be, the 2010-11 NBA season will be fun to watch for all involved, whether rooting for or against him.

I have a feeling that next season the NBA is going to see huge ratings spikes with all games involving the Heat. It should be a fun year to watch.

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