2013 NBA Season Preview: Can The Miami Heat Three-Peat?
With the start of the NBA season on Tuesday – three games take the stage: the Orlando Magic taking on the Indiana Pacers, the “Battle of Los Angeles” between the Clippers and the Lakers and the headliner, the reborn Derrick Rose-led Chicago Bulls visiting the defending champion Miami Heat – one of the most exciting betting options in basketball comes alive once again.
So, what makes betting on basketball so exciting? Not only is it the length of the season (over 82 games and over nine months), it’s the plethora of straight bets (half bets, quarter bets, etc.) and “prop” bets that can be made on the games. Arguably no other sport (save for maybe the Super Bowl) has the multitude of betting options that pro basketball has.
Last year, the Heat were dominating the league to the point of boredom. Their 28 game win streak actually brought some prop bets as to whether they would break the all-time record of 33 consecutive wins (by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers led by Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West) and there was always an entertaining option in betting on four-time Most Valuable Player (2009-10, 2012-13) LeBron James.
Some of the more entertaining ones were whether James would miss more shots than Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford would allow to pass into the net in his game (believe it or not, James often took this one); the prop bet of James getting more points than two players from the opposing team combined; and whether James would have more points, assists or rebounds in a particular game. As you can see, LeBron isn’t just exciting on the court, he brings some excitement to laying some bets also.
After winning their second consecutive championship, people may begin to wonder if the Miami Heat are a good thing for the NBA. There doesn’t seem to be an issue with that, however; since the close of lastseason (when the Heat were barely able to squeak out a seven-game win over the San Antonio Spurs), the rest of the NBA has gotten better. Thus, here’s some advice when looking at betting on the NBA this season.
The Beasts of the East
Some would argue that the Heat had an easy stroll through the NBA Playoffs last year. Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose was out for the entire year with a knee injury, Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo wasn’t around due to his own knee injury and the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets were affected by their own injury bugs. For this season, plenty of teams in the East have loaded up for a shot at taking down the Heat.
Rose is back for the Bulls and is showing the same explosiveness that he displayed during his MVP season in 2011. The Nets loaded up in stealing forward Kevin Garnett and guard Paul Pierce from Boston for a final playoff push for those veterans and the Knicks, with forwards Carmelo Anthony and Amar’eStoudemire, are going to be formidable also. Add in an always overachieving Indiana Pacers team and the Heat have some serious obstacles this year in their drive for the three-peat.
James is the given for the Heat; night in and night out, he is now the “Alpha dog” for the Miami squad and by far the most exciting player in the league. The real question for the Heat will be whether guard Dwyane Wade can return to top form. During the run to the title last year, injuries hobbled “Flash” (or whatever nickname he’s using this year) and threatened to derail the Heat run at the title. If he’s anywhere close to the form he’s shown in past seasons and if forward Chris Bosh and the rest of the team (with recent additions in center Greg Oden and forward Michael Beasley) show up, the Heat will be tough to stop.
Don’t Overlook the West, Though
The Western Conference is putting out some quality teams, too. The Oklahoma City Thunder have the duo of forward Kevin Durant and guard Michael Westbrook (although Westbrook will sit in the early part of the season due to a knee injury) which has proven successful for them. San Antonio, after coming within seconds of winning the title in game 6 during the NBA Finals last year, is prepped for one last run at the championship and Denver is always a tough team. There are two squads, however, to focus on specifically.
The Houston Rockets arguably got the best free agent on the market during the offseason in center Dwight Howard. Teamed up with guards James Harden and Jeremy Lin, the Rockets could make some waves in the conference. Finally, there are the Clippers, with guard Chris Paul and forward Blake Griffin back together again. After a quick exit during last year’s playoffs, the Clippers will be looking to make their own impact on the Western Conference during the season.
Coming From the Pack
There are a few teams who may be a surprise as the 2013-14 NBA season plays out and they come from the Western Conference (the East, after you get by Miami, New York, Chicago, Brooklyn and Indiana, is pretty light). The Memphis Grizzlies are a consistent team that stunned many with their run to the Western Conference finals last year. The Golden State Warriors have been building a nice team around guard Stephen Curryand forward Andre Iguodala. Finally, you can never count out the Los Angeles Lakers as long as guard Kobe Bryant still dons a jersey; after dealing with the drama last year, the Lakers might surprise some as the season progresses.
Although there is plenty of opposition out there against them, is there any reason to NOT predict that the Miami Heat won’t win it again? No, there isn’t. Since his arrival in South Beach, James has led the Heat to three consecutive NBA Finals appearances (the only year they didn’t win was 2011 against the Dallas Mavericks). There’s no reason to believe that there won’t be a fourth one come this spring…but that’s why they play the games and the fans enjoy a little betting action on the side.