Miami Heat, Boston top NBA futures odds

By: Joe Freda | Thursday, December 23, 2010
Boston Celtics

Rajon Rondo’s ankle injury is stretching Doc Rivers’ bench in Boston.

The Eastern Conference has its share of favorites and long shots, with squads jockeying for position after the season’s first two months.  NBA betting shops have had to stay on top of trades, injuries and other factors having an impact on futures odds for who will appear in this year’s NBA Finals.

Sports books presently list the Miami Heat (6/5), Boston Celtics (9/5), Orlando Magic (5/1) and the Chicago Bulls (9/1) as the cluster’s top four clubs.  Oddsmakers have the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors as the East’s darkest horses, both at a a lofty 150/1.

The Celtics sit atop Thursday morning’s conference standings  with a record of 23-4, presently riding a 14-game winning streak.  Miami is 3 ½-games behind at 21-9, while Chicago is five games back at 18-9.

Boston has cruised along despite several injuries, which should mean even further depth coming for Doc Rivers’ club down the stretch.

Celtics guard Rajon Rondo has missed three games since spraining his ankle in a Dec. 15 matchup against the New York Knicks.  The league’s assist leader (13.8 APG) is expected to not return for up to two weeks, according to

Rondo’s mate Jermaine O’Neal has been out of the lineup since Nov.8, recovering from a knee injury.  The veteran center is listed as “probable” to return in Saturday’s road game against Orlando.

Miami saw a 12-game winning streak end with Monday’s 98-96 home loss to the Dallas Mavericks.  The Heat have remained healthy, but find themselves making up ground after starting 9-8 in their season's first 17 games.

Erik Spoelstra’s squad has two games remaining against the Celtics, which could play a direct role in deciding the conference’s number-one seed.  Miami will visit Boston in the second matchup of a four-game road trip during February, while the Heat host Rondo and Co. in a late-season battle on April 10.

The Magic are hoping the trading block pays off for the rest of the regular season and playoffs.  Orlando’s blockbuster deal on Dec. 18 saw Gilbert Arenas added to its lineup, along with Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson and Earl Clark.

Arenas’ first two games with his new club have been less than stellar, with the three-time All-Star scoring a total of 12 points over the pair of matchups.  Turkoglu, Richardson and Clark have followed suit, with none of the trio putting up more than 10 points in either duel.

Chicago has had an 8-1 run in its nine games since Dec. 4, with the only defeat coming by one point in a 100-99 home loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.  The Bulls’ addition of Carlos Boozer has paid instant returns since Dec. 1 with the Duke alum logging 19.1 PPG and 8.4 RPG.

Bulls center Joakim Noah has not played since Dec. 15 and is expected to miss up to 10 weeks of action while recovering from thumb surgery.  The New York native leads Tom Thibodeau’s squad in shooting (51.4 percent), boards (11.7 RPG) and blocks (1.6 BPG).

The latest league standings, schedules and injury news can be found on’s NBA page.

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