Dan Favale | Tue 10/10/2017 - 03:57 EDT

NBA Futures: Miami Heat Odds

NBA Futures: Miami Heat Odds
The Miami Heat doubled down on their 41-41 record from last season, an uncharacteristic move to say the least from team president Pat Riley. Now they're tightly tethered to a core that, for the first half of last year, played like one of the worst squads in the league. Was this the right gamble?

2017-18 Miami Heat Betting Odds

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  • Southeast Division: +350
  • Eastern Conference: +2000
  • NBA Championship: +5000

Remember when we thought that Miami Heat team president Pat Riley might hit the reset button after last year’s 41-41 finish?

Yeah, well, so much for that.

Following an 11-30 start to the 2016-17 campaign, the Heat went on a monstrous 30-11 tear to close the year at .500, just barely missing out on the Eastern Conference’s playoff party.

Everyone knew they would try parlaying that strong finish, which saw their tanking attempts go out the window, into major face time with free agent Gordon Hayward. But if he signed elsewhere, as he did, the Heat would be left with a tough decision: Do we re-invest in what has thus far been an unproven core, or do we opt for a reset, even if a partial one?

Riley left little time for doubt following Hayward’s free-agency decision. He quickly locked up James Johnson and Dion Waiters, before adding Kelly Olynyk. The Heat are now into the three of them over the next four years for a total $162 million.

None of these contracts are bad on the their own. Ditto on the deals for Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside. Tyler Johnson owns the squad’s lone immovable deal.

And yet, a funny thing happens when you hand out so many market-level deals to a gaggle of non-stars: your ceiling tapers off in a big way.

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That’s what is happening to the Heat right now. Most expect them to snag a playoff berth, but they’re by no means a threat to steal the East from the Cleveland Cavaliers.

They might be an interesting dark-horse play, since they’re among the swathe of teams that would enter the conference-title discussion should the Cavaliers suffer a cataclysmic number of injuries, but a +2000 isn’t enough to take that shot in the dark.

Your flyer bets should typically be paying out at +3500 or higher.

And if the Heat’s conference chances are a non-starter, so too are their title odds. Even if by some miracle they make it past the Cavaliers, one of the Golden State Warriors, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets or San Antonio Spurs will be waiting for them.

Head coach Erik Spoelstra is a genius—particularly when it comes to spacing. But he cannot magically summon a gameplan capable of contending with not one, but two or more of the NBA’s superpowers.

Any big-picture betting appeal the Heat carry lies with their Southeast Division odds. This NBA sector has long been a free-for-all, and the 2017-18 crusade promises nothing different.

The Washington Wizards enter as the favorite (-250), with the Heat (+350) in second and the Charlotte Hornets in third (+475). Odds for the Orlando Magic and Atlanta Hawks are immaterial. They’re both rebuilding. Neither has a real crack at entering the fold. 

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Sticking some money on the Heat here is your best play.

They won’t suddenly emerge as heavy favorites, but their two most direct forms of competition, the Wizards and Hornets, have weaknesses that could crater their respective outlooks.

The Hornets, for starters, have lost their highest paid player, Nicolas Batum, to a shoulder injury. He won’t be back in the lineup for at least nine to 12 weeks, giving the Heat ample time to forge some distance between themselves and Charlotte as the clear second-best unit in the division.

The Wizards, meanwhile, remain shallow. Markieff Morris is expected to open up the season on the sidelines, and their bench doesn’t have real firepower aside from Kelly Oubre Jr., who’s still figuring out how to shoot threes. If Otto Porter, Bradley Beal or John Wall suffers an injury, the Wizards are suddenly at a disadvantage.

View the Heat as a semi-dark horse in the meantime. If everything goes right in their own house, they might be able to give the Wizards a run for their money.

Beyond that, though, you should avoid championship and conference bets—unless, of course, the Heat prove, in a good way, to be something they’re not 20 or so games in.

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