Ever since the day that LeBron James told the world that he was taking his talents to South Beach, the Miami Heat have been the clear favorites on the NBA Finals odds. It is a year later, and though King James still doesn't have his title, oddsmakers essentially think that it is a 50/50 proposition that the Heat get the job done and win another championship this year.
The Heat are -150 at 5Dimes Sportsbook to win the Eastern Conference, and +145 favorites to win the title this year.
What many forget is that the Heat weren't the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs a year ago – that distinction went to the Chicago Bulls.
Chicago is once again sitting with the best record in basketball, and has played six more road games than home games. No one has a shot of running down the Bulls atop the Central Division, as they are seven-games up with just 22 to play. The Heat, who trail Chicago by 2.5 games in the Eastern Conference standings, are only four-games up on the Orlando Magic, and the Atlanta Hawks could find themselves within striking distance soon.
The Bulls are +500 and the second favorites in the East.
Elsewhere in this conference, the NBA odds are generally tremendously high. There is little confidence in the Magic at 40/1, simply because the oddsmakers are expecting Orlando to deal Dwight Howard before the trade deadline. If that doesn't happen though, Orlando might be a team that you can steal at a great price right now.
Other notables in the Eastern Conference include the New York Knicks (28/1), Boston Celtics (50/1), Philadelphia 76ers (75/1) and Atlanta Hawks (85/1).
Out West, it is clear that this is the year the oddsmakers think the Oklahoma City Thunder are going to reach the NBA Finals. They are +450 favorites to win it all this year, and +130 favorites to win the Western Conference.
Oklahoma City has already run away with the Northwest Division, and has at least a 4,5-game advantage over the rest of the conference. The team is 16-1 SU this year at home, and if that keeps up in the postseason, it is going to be hard to knock the Thunder out of the playoffs.
The next teams in line are the two from Tinseltown. The Los Angeles Lakers are 14/1, while the Los Angeles Clippers are the fifth choice on the board to win the NBA championship at 17/1.
The San Antonio Spurs have the second-best record in the West right now though, and are 18/1 despite of their flat-out awesome 14-3 home record, the third-best home mark in the conference.
The defending champion Dallas Mavericks are currently listed at 19/1 to repeat.
Once you get past Oklahoma City and San Antonio, the rest of the West is tightly packed. To get from the Lakers, who would be the No. 3 seed if the playoffs started today, down to the Golden State Warriors in 13th place, just seven games separate the 11 teams. That's why odds on the teams like the Warriors (500/1), Phoenix Suns (400/1), Utah Jazz (250/1) Minnesota Timberwolves (150/1) and Houston Rockets (100/1) are so high.
Elsewhere in the West, the Denver Nuggets are 60/1, while their division mates, the Portland Trail Blazers are 75/1. The Memphis Grizzlies, who are currently in second place in the Southwest Division, are 55/1 to win it all.