The Miami Heat are the favorites to win the 2014 NBA Finals, at least in the eyes of oddsmakers. Online sports book Bovada.lv released its betting lines for the 2014 NBA season this week, giving the Heat a 2/1 shot to win their third straight championship.
The Heat were also given 1/1 odds to win the Eastern Conference Title, and a ridiculous 1/100 shot to win the Southeast division title for the fourth straight season. That means a $100 bet on the Heat to win its division would net just $1 in profit.
Miami's top Eastern Conference rivals according to Bovada are the Chicago Bulls (8/1 to win it all, 4/1 to win the Eastern Conference), Indiana Pacers (10/1 to win it all, 5/1 to win the East), and Brooklyn Nets (10/1 to win it all, 11/2 to win the East).
In the Western Conference, the LA Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder each have 7/2 odds to go to the NBA Finals, with the defending Western Conference champion San Antonio getting 11/2 odds to repeat.
The Heat have kept most of their 2013 championship roster intact for the 2013-14 season, losing only Mike Miller (cut using the NBA's amnesty provision) and Juwan Howard (who retired to become a Heat assistant coach). Miami bolstered its bench over the offseason, signing free agent center Greg Oden in addition to forward Michael Beasley and guard Roger Mason Jr.
Only three franchises have ever won three NBA titles in a row - the Boston Celtics (who won 8 titles in a row in the 1960s), Chicago Bulls (who did it twice during the Michael Jordan era), and LA Lakers (who three-peated from 2000-2002 and from 1952-1954 as the Minneapolis Lakers).
The Heat are not shying away from the task ahead of them. If anything, the difficulty of winning three straight titles is keeping them focused as they prepare for the season. "Last year I think we had a little hangover coming off that first championship," point guard Mario Chalmers said last week.
"Maybe we celebrated a little bit too much. We didn't come into camp as focused and ready as we did last year. You can tell right now, everybody's hungry for that threepeat."
The Heat open the 2013-14 season at home on October 29 against the Chicago Bulls.