Back in the preseason, I told you my pick to win the NBA championship was the Indiana Pacers, who at the time were listed anywhere from 12-1 to 15-1. I even went on the BBC and told the host to run down to Ladbroke’s and make that wager. (He didn’t — and I have not stopped badgering him about it since.)
So what are the latest odds to win the NBA championship? And who is offering the best odds to win the 2014 NBA championship?
The odds on Indiana have dropped to +275, or a little less than 3-1. They are only slightly higher than the odds on the Miami Heat, which are currently +245.
Indiana has held onto first place in the Eastern Conference throughout this season, posting an NBA-best 25-2 record at home and avoiding, for the most part, the types of inexcusable losses that could end up costing them homecourt advantage if they end up meeting the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals, as everyone expects. They still must play the Heat two more times, on March 26 and April 11. Those two matchups will likely determine who finishes first in the East — and will have an impact on the championship odds once the regular season is over.
I expect the teams to split the games, and I still expect the Pacers to finish atop the East.
And yes, I am sticking with my prediction that Indiana will win the title, mostly because they have the No. 1 rated defense in the NBA, and also because the Heat are ranked 30th — dead last — in the NBA in rebounding. When you are facing the prospect of going against a team with a front line of Roy Hibbert and David West, with Luis Scola and Andrew Bynum coming off the bench, the ability to rebound the ball will be the paramount factor.
A secondary factor will be the play of the Pacers’ backcourt, and Lance Stephenson not only leads the league in triple-doubles, he is a legitimate threat to win the league’s Most Improved Player award.
And here’s another thing: Whoever comes out of the East will not have had a tough of a time reaching the NBA Finals as the team that comes out of the West, where it will be a dogfight each and every round because of the quality of the competition. That is a large part of the reason why the Heat and Pacers have the lowest odds of any of the 30 teams.
Will my Pacers pick be correct? Only time will tell. But I am hoping that those who saw me on the BBC during the preseason and took my advice will be rewarded at the cashier’s window.