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NBA Season Betting Preview

2010-11 may be the NBA’s most anticipated season in years, and every NBA betting fan knows why: the Miami Heat.

The Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh will try to take the Heat to glory, and oddsmakers believe it will happen.

At virtually every major sportsbook the Heat is favored to win the NBA championship; typical NBA odds place them at +165. They’re massive favorites to win the Eastern Conference, listed at -155.

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The reason why Miami’s East odds are so much better than their championship odds is that oddsmakers expect only one team to give the Heat a major run this season: the Western Conference’s Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe Bryant’s Lakers are the defending NBA champs and still have their core, which also includes Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum (who is working his way back from knee surgery). The Lakers are the Western Conference frontrunners at -105.

The third best odds to win it all in 2011 belong to a familiar team: the Boston Celtics, who are far behind Miami and L.A. at +1015. Shaquille O’Neal joins a Boston team that came within one win of an NBA title last season. Shaq, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce may be a bit long in the tooth but it’s Rajon Rondo’s team now and this team can still play defense. Boston has the second-best Eastern Conference odds at +385.

The trendiest NBA championship sleeper pick is Oklahoma City. The Thunder have the fourth best odds to win it all, listed as high as +1215 at some books. They won 50 games last season and boast the reigning NBA scoring champ in Kevin Durant, who averaged 30.2 points per game last year. The Thunder’s odds to win the West are +605.

Rounding out the elite: the Orlando Magic, listed usually around +1415 to win the championship. They still have the game’s best center in Dwight Howard and a great group of shooters. Rumor has it they will pursue Chris Paul aggressively if New Orleans puts him up for sale, so their odds could skyrocket.

Orlando still believes it has a solid chance to win the Eastern Conference (+525).

The Chicago Bulls are a deep sleeper for bettors to consider. Their solid young team has odds of +3050 to win the NBA championship but took a step back after key offseason acquisition Carlos Boozer broke his hand earlier this month. If they can survive the first handful of games without him, they could rally.

Other possible title contenders include Dallas (+3050), Portland (+3050), and San Antonio (+3550). Bettors should be careful about picking the Denver Nuggets (+3550), however, as they may trade Carmelo Anthony during the season.

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