LeBron led the Miami heat to NBA Title in just 5 games

GamingToday.com is an independent sports news and information service. GamingToday.com has partnerships with some of the top legal and licensed sportsbook companies in the US. When you claim a bonus offer or promotion through a link on this site, Gaming Today may receive referral compensation from the sportsbook company. Although the relationships we have with sportsbook companies may influence the order in which we place companies on the site, all reviews, recommendations, and opinions are wholly our own. They are the recommendations from our authors and contributors who are avid sports fans themselves.

For more information, please read How We Rank Sportsbooks, Privacy Policy, or Contact Us with any concerns you may have.

Gaming Today is licensed and regulated to operate in AZ, CO, CT, IN, LA, MI, NJ, NY, PA, TN, and VA.

Although some critics still remain there’s more ammunition to support the contention that LeBron James is one of the NBA’s elite players whose name deserves to be in the discussion of the game’s truly all-time greats.

In his third try in the NBA Finals, James led the Miami heat to the NBA Title in just 5 games. Prior to the start of the series Miami was installed as the betting underdog with red hot Oklahoma City about a 9 to 5 favorite over the team that had been pretty much favored all season long.

Perhaps because Oklahoma City won four straight games over favored San Antonio after dropping the first two the Thunder became the team to beat. This theory may have been further enforced with Miami having struggled against both Indiana and then Boston earlier in the playoffs.

But starting with Game 6 against Boston, James put on one of the best displays of both basketball feats and leadership, coming up big in the fourth quarter of games when the outcomes were in doubt.

After dropping the opener in Oklahoma City the Heat won the next four, becoming only the third team in more than a quarter century to win the middle three home games in a best of seven Finals played in the 2-3-2 format.

The Thunder can still be quite proud. A young team on the rise, many astute observers expect OKC to be contending for NBA Title the rest of this decade if they can keep most of the nucleus together. Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are locked into long term contracts and most of the roster will be back next fall. However both Serge Ibaka and James Harden will be priorities to be re-signed this off season. If that occurs, the Thunder’s main concern for the next several seasons will be to stay healthy.

The NBA Draft takes place Thursday with New Orleans having the top choice after winning the lottery several weeks ago. That top pick almost assuredly will be used on Anthony Davis from the NCAA Champion Kentucky Wildcats.

A number of NBA players will then be off to the London Olympics that begin in late July. When they return in August training camps will be opening. It will be worth paying attention to the US athletes and the other NBA players that will play for other countries as the accumulation of minutes and games played could become a factor once next season gets underway.

To the surprise of nobody this season’s finalists have opened as the favorites to win the 2012-2013 NBA Title.

At the LVH both Miami and Oklahoma City are priced at 5-2 to win it all with only Chicago (5-1) and San Antonio (7-1) held at lower than 12-1 odds.

At Cantor Gaming, Miami is a 2-1 favorite with Oklahoma City 3-1. The Bulls are 6-1, the Spurs 7-1 and the other 26 teams at 12-1 or higher.

The LVH offers the more generous odds on the truly longshot teams with half the league (15 teams) priced at odds that range from 100-1 to 1,000-1. The two teams that would make you 10 large for a $10 bet are Charlotte and Toronto.

Cantor Gaming has a dozen teams priced at 100-1 or higher, but the max price is just 150-1 (Charlotte and Washington).

Next season will be different. The uncertainty that surrounded the start of last season is gone with the settlement reached by owners and players late last year.

In looking for teams to play in the futures book for next season we must begin by eliminating the teams with single digit odds for several reasons. Perhaps the most important is that so much can happen between now and the start of next season, much less the playoffs.

Although Miami, Chicago, Oklahoma City and San Antonio look attractive, they make for poor futures plays at this time. Especially Chicago as star Derrick Rose tore his ACL in the Bulls’ opening playoff series against Philadelphia and likely will not be back until late next season. And there’s no guarantee that without Rose the Bulls will even be a playoff team. Given the uncertainties, odds of anything less than 20-1 would be hard to justify.

The NBA may be the most difficult of the major professional sports for a team to come from virtually out of nowhere to contend for, much less win its sport’s championship. More often than not a team must “pay its dues” by advancing a bit further each season once it finally makes the post season.

At the same time one player can make more of a difference in basketball than in any other sport because only five are involved in the game at any one time. It is much easier for a single player to take over and dominate a basketball game than it is for a player in other sports to do the same.

That makes it harder to recommend longshots in NBA futures than, say, in the NFL or Major League Baseball. It’s nice to find teams at long odds to play but you still have to cash the ticket. Working up the playoff ladder makes it a challenge to find an attractively priced team with  a “reasonable” chance at going all the way.

Eastern Conference

Two teams come to mind insofar as having nicely developed rosters with upside potential. Both New York and Philadelphia made the playoffs this past season. Philadelphia won its opening round series by taking advantage of injuries to both Rose and Joakim Noah to get by Chicago.

The Knicks fell in five games to eventual champion Miami, but at least ended their lengthy winless playoff streak that dated back over a decade. Both the Knicks and 76ers have elements of teams poised to continue their improvement and could be worth a shot at 60-1.

The chic team likely to attract much attention heading into next season may be Indiana. The Pacers took Miami to six games before losing in the conference semifinals. The Pacers, currently priced at 20-1 (LVH) and 25-1 (Cantor), finished eight games behind Chicago in the Central Division.

What makes Indiana, the Knicks and 76ers potentially attractive is that some of the top teams in the conference appear headed for decline. Boston is aging and it would come as no surprise if the roster is broken up. Already there is talk that Kevin Garnett may retire and that Ray Allen won’t be back. Coach Doc Rivers is seriously contemplating retirement, possibly this offseason.

Chicago’s prospects are also uncertain with the injury to Rose. Orlando is another perennial power poised to decline, especially if trading Dwight Howard and beginning to reconstruct the team.

Miami clearly remains the favorites, but those odds on Indiana, New York and Philadelphia are tempting.

Western Conference

Two teams at attractive odds are Memphis and the LA Clippers. Both have much upside after making the playoffs and are each priced at 30-1 (LVH) and 25-1 (Cantor).

The Clippers are most interesting since they played virtually the entire season without Chauncey Billups, signed prior to the start of the compacted season. He played just 20 games before tearing his Achilles tendon. He barely had time to get familiar with his new teammates, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul III.

 Griffin continued his improvement, leading the team in scoring and rebounding. CP III was acquired during the shortened training camp and thus did not benefit from the usual amount of practice time. 

The Grizzlies tied the Lakers with a 41-25 record in the shortened season and earned the No. 4 seed due to tie breakers. Memphis featured a nicely balanced offense with five players averaging between 11.6 and 19.0 points per game. 

Zach Randolph, arguably their best all-around player, played just 28 games. He returned as a bench player for the final month or so before starting all six games in the opening round playoff loss to the Clippers.

A number of teams appear to be on the decline. San Antonio, the Lakers and Dallas each have been relying on aging superstars.

Again, Oklahoma City deserves to be favored in the West but both the Clippers and Grizzlies have enough young core talent to continue the progress each showed this past season.


About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

Get connected with us on Social Media