Some three months before the NBA Finals conclude, the Miami Heat feel like heavy favorites to claim the Larry O'Brien trophy. Not only are the Heat the defending champs, not only do they have the league's best record, but they're also in the midst of a winning streak -- now at 26 games after Sunday night's win over the Charlotte Bobcats -- unprecedented in the past four decades. So Miami versus the field (the other 29 teams) to win it all should be a no-brainer, right? Maybe not.
According to Vegas.com, the gambling odds on Miami winning the championship are about even: 10-11, which means that a gambler betting on the Heat would win $10 for each $11 they risked. To be willing to make the bet, you would have to think that Miami should win the championship more than 52.3 percent of the time.
The Hollinger Playoff Odds would take the field, and overwhelmingly so. As of this morning, they have the Heat claiming the title 28.3 percent of the time. But 1,000 simulations of the season, based on my more conservative projections (made up of about a quarter preseason lines and three quarters schedule-adjusted performance to date), have Miami winning a second consecutive title nearly half of the time -- 48.0 percent, to be exact.