Heat vs Mavericks NBA Playoff OK with Vegas sports books

May 31, 2011 3:10 AM

Between all the drama the Heat have created all season and the Mavericks absolutely dominating every team in their path through the playoffs, this has the makings of being a very entertaining series.

"It’s a pretty intriguing matchup," said MGM Resorts race and sports book director Jay Rood. "Even without the Lakers, the public perception of the Mavericks has drastically changed over the last few weeks to make it very attractive for bettors.

"Then you’ve got the added bonus of seeing if LeBron James can make it happen his first year there," Rood continued. "People seem to have a love-hate relationship with the Heat, which should translate well at the betting window. I must admit, I’m drawn in myself as a fan more so than usual just to see what will happen."

The Heat are 4½-point favorites in Thursday’s Game 1 match and -180 to win the series. Lucky’s sports books are offering advance wagering for Games 2 and 3 with the Heat -5 in Game 2 and the Mavericks -3½ at home in Game 3.

"I think most of us were initially a little concerned about the handle being down because of the Lakers not being in there," said Las Vegas Hilton Executive Director Jay Kornegay, "But the wound isn’t that deep and the fans have had a few weeks to get over it.

"Everyone has had enough time to formulate their own opinions after watching the Mavericks in the West Finals, which has made it easier to forget about the Lakers," Kornegay added. "I think the handle should be almost as good as last season and we should see a long series."

Lucky’s has Game 7 being the favorite in its eight-way index proposition to pick the winning team in exact number of games. The Heat winning in seven games is 5-2 and the Mavericks in seven is 5-1. If you are thinking the Heat will sweep, Lucky’s will give you 10-1.

The format changes from all the series in the Final with a 2-3-2 setup, which greatly favors the home team. It’s pretty rare to see those middle three games all go the home team’s way.

I like what I have seen out of the Mavericks throughout the playoffs. They seem to cover almost every game and be up for every challenge put before them. The Heat have been playing great defense that has carried them, and LeBron has looked like the best player in basketball.

But are the Heat ready for a team that shoots a high percentage from three-point range?

Miami had trouble with Boston and its barrage of long distance shooting and now faces the Mavericks, who have led the playoffs with 8.9 three-point shots per game. They lead the playoffs with 99.7 points per game and shoot 82% from the free-throw stripe, which also tops all playoff teams.

While I’ve grown to like James again, having lost the anger I had due to the decision, I have a hard time seeing the hottest team in basketball losing four games. Dallas does so many things great and has a superstar in Dirk Nowitzki who creates huge matchup problems.

As great as Nowitzki has been, it’s the supporting cast that has carried the Mavericks throughout.

Prediction: Mavericks in six.