LeBron James and the Miami Heat are now closing in on not their first, not their second, but their third consecutive NBA Finals appearance, where they will be looking for their second ring with “The Big Three.”
But before we can punch Miami’s ticket to the Finals, the Heat still have four games left to
win against an Indiana Pacers team they’ve lost 2 out of 3 against this season. If you take a look at the big picture when it comes to Indiana, you notice since 2009-2010 when they missed the playoffs, they have advanced one round each year since and have added pieces as the each and every year. Before this current three-year run, the last time the Pacers made the playoffs their roster included names like Jonathan Bender, Austin Croshere and yes, Danny Granger. Let’s take a look at how this current Pacers roster was constructed year by year starting with their last non-playoff year of 2009:
|Player||Year||2012-13 Playoff Min.|
My feeling is when you build a team and take it round by round for a few years, chemistry begins to become a big complement to the talent you have already created.
Now, when it comes to playing a team like the Miami Heat, things as simple as Dwayne Wade’s current health can mean everything in the series. The current series price for the Eastern Conference Finals puts Miami as a -670/+470 favorite to advance to the NBA Finals. What that means, is before Game One starts Wednesday night, you would have to put $670 down to win $100 (receive $770 total back on your wager) to be on the Heat to advance to the Finals. Miami is also currently listed as a 7.5 point favorite in Game One of the series, with a money-line (to win the game) of -380/+320.
Listed below are all of the possible series game endings to the Eastern Conference Finals and their prices:
What this chart mostly tells us is the likeliest result before the series started is for the Heat to beat the Pacers four games to one, which would cost $100 to win $195. As the series progresses and games are won and lost, odds for the series, as well as the per-game odds, will update, which is why many people find it lucrative to wait a game or two to place a wager on a team you think may fall behind before winning the series. On April 29th, the potential Grizzlies/Pacers NBA Finals matchup paid 280/1 at offshore sports books, which right now would be a popular investment to say the least.
On February 14th of this season, here were the NBA future odds (to win the NBA Finals) for the Pacers (20/1), Heat (+175), Grizzlies (40/1) and Spurs (6/1). When looking at the full list of futures from that particular day about 3 months ago, the Warriors, Grizzlies and Pacers had the best odds for teams who won at least one series in the playoffs.
When betting futures, series prices or really anything to do with a sports book holding your money for over 48 hours on the most part, you have to make sure you are grabbing this future with a reasoning in mind.
For example, Going into the Grizzlies-Spurs series, if your thought process was for the Grizzlies to split the first two games in San Antonio, you would bet the series price based on the Game One results and so on. So, as of now, if you are looking at the Pacers for potential value, you have to realize that is long gone. Indiana is currently approximately 15/1 to win the NBA championship, which is not far off from what they were almost 3 months ago. One of the key to betting futures is to grab a team in a bad position that you think can climb out, one of the best examples of that has been Memphis, which has lost each of their first three Game One’s in these playoffs. Looking back, the only prime option to take Indiana so far in the playoffs would have been before Game 5 of the Divisional Round, when they were tied 2-2 with Atlanta. After taking Game One of the semifinals versus the Knicks, almost all the value was gone, even after losing Game Two because of the shift in home-court advantage.
With all of that being said, my future bets from earlier in the NBA season very much want the Indiana Pacers to take this series from the Miami Heat, but my prediction would be much closer to the Heat winning the series in 6 games (+410). I truly believe the Pacers size and more specifically David West should have a big impact on the series if the Pacers want to keep their hopes alive. I know what Roy Hibbert just did against the Knicks in the last round was very impressive, but I simply cannot trust him in this type of series to be my x-factor if the Pacers are going to cause any havoc.
Evan Abrams writes about basketball gambling for SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter @Betropolitan..