Don’t look now but the ‘over the hill’ San Antonio Spurs are the current favorites to win the NBA Championship. That’s a significant development since the defending champion Miami Heat had been the top choice to repeat pretty much since they won the title last year.
That’s all changed during the playoffs, however, as the Heat have looked very ordinary at times while the Spurs have continued to improve as they’ve progressed in postseason play.
Of course let’s not get carried away with this ‘Spurs are favored’ narrative. The Miami Heat are still the #2 choice to win the NBA crown and since we’re talking about a fractional difference in moneyline prices the two teams are for all intents and purposes ‘co-favorites’. There’s also a bit of scheduling working in the Spurs’ favor at the moment—they’re up 1-0 in their series against the Oklahoma City Thunder while the Heat are deadlocked in a 1-1 tie with the Indiana Pacers. Plus the Spurs have home court in their Western Conference Finals series while the Heat do not.
In fact if you factor out all of the ‘intangibles’ mentioned above the Miami Heat would likely still be the NBA Championship favorite. They’re still getting a ton of respect from the marketplace despite their lethargic play in Game 1 against Indiana and the Pacers having home court advantage. To paraphrase pro wrestling legend Ric Flair ‘to be the man you’ve got to beat the man’ and until the Spurs or some other team beat the Heat they are ‘the man’.
The current NBA Championship futures odds are as follows:
San Antonio Spurs +127
Miami Heat +137
Oklahoma City Thunder +815
Indiana Pacers +1055
The Miami Heat’s strong marketplace valuation is evident in the price on the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers are tied in the series and have been very competitive against the Heat throughout the regular season winning 3 of 4 meetings. Despite the fact that the series is heading back to Miami for Games 3 and 4 there looks to be some decent value on Indiana here.
Oklahoma City is less attractive as a betting proposition. They were thoroughly outplayed by San Antonio in Game 1 and the loss of forward Serge Ibaka looms large in this matchup. If the Thunder are able to get past San Antonio—and that’s a big ‘if’–they’ll be in a very tough matchup against either Indiana or Miami.