NBA Finals future matchups

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NBA Finals future matchups

Having already laid out the advantages of betting specific NBA Finals matchups, let’s highlight a few while touching both ends of the spectrum and in between.

*All odds taken from Sportsbook.ag

Heat-Thunder (+350)

Probably the matchup that the majority of non-partisan fans want to see for obvious reasons. It would be a rematch of the 2012 Finals – one that very well could have happened last year had Russell Westbrook not gotten injured – and pitting two best players in the game going head to head for a title. Because both teams find themselves as No. 2 seeds in their respective conferences, there is a hint of value in what is essentially the odds-on favorite Finals matchup. The case for Miami is simple. They have been the kings of the East for three years and counting. And as opposed to the Finals, where the Heat have lost once and nearly lost a second time last June, they’ve yet to be truly taken to the brink in the Eastern Conference playoffs. As for the Thunder, there is probably no team hungrier and angrier than this one. They’ll have home court until the Western Conference finals, assuming the Spurs are there. And even if they are, Oklahoma City has repeatedly eviscerated Tim Duncan and Co., going 4-0 against them in the regular season and riding an overall 10-2 streak dating back to the 2012 West finals.

Pacers-Spurs (+650)

In terms of value, bettors will be hard-pressed to find more of it in a potential matchup of No. 1 seeds. Look no further than the previous paragraph for the reasons why oddsmakers are willing to float better than 6/1 payouts for a top-seeded Finals. In addition to the East still belonging to Miami and the Thunder having San Antonio’s number, this number is also a referendum on Indiana. Quite simply, oddsmakers don’t have a lot of faith in the Pacers, who looked positively atrocious down the stretch. A few reasons for optimism: They ended the regular season on a 1-5 slide last year before turning it on and motoring all the way to Game 7 of the East finals. And just last week, when it seemed like their freefall was going to hand the No. 1 seed to Miami, they came through with a gritty win over the Thunder to hold on to the No. 1 seed. Indiana is a different team at home, where they went a league-best 35-6 in the regular season. They were also 8-1 in their building in last year’s playoffs as the 3-seed. If they can replicate that home-court dominance, a trip to the Finals is a distinct possibility. So too is the Spurs waiting for them there, if only because it’s never a bad thing for bettors to have their money on San Antonio.

Heat-Rockets (+1500)

An intriguing matchup given the 15/1 odds. Miami’s case is well established. As for the Rockets, while there is surely no easy path to the Finals in the mine-laden West, their path looks favorable. The one team they don’t want to face is the Clippers, against whom they were 0-4 in the regular season. And in order for those teams to square off in the Western finals, the Clippers would have to beat Golden State and either Oklahoma City or Memphis. No small task. Houston, meanwhile, gets a talented but untested Blazers team in the first round before a presumptive showdown with a Spurs team in Round 2 that they beat four times in as many tries this season. The playoffs are a different animal, but James Harden and Dwight Howard are both battle tested and won’t be daunted by the stage. If they passed that test, a West finals matchup with the Thunder would figure to be an all-out war between deep and peaking teams. And then there’s that Harden-OKC thing. Summed up, the chances of a Heat-Rockets Finals are better than the +1500 price would indicate.

Nets-Thunder (+3500)

Bettors looking for a long shot won’t find more bang for their buck than this one. Brooklyn has seemingly been biding its time for the playoffs since Day 1, limiting the minutes of Paul Pierce and pulling an old Celtics move by removing the hyper-intense Kevin Garnett from the equation all together in an effort to prepare him for the games that count. The Nets then capped a 33-13 run with a tactful tanking over the final week to position themselves to play Toronto in Round 1 and Miami in Round 2 (as opposed to Chicago and Indiana). Pierce and Garnett showed last year they still have that extra gear. The difference this time around is they have legitimate pieces around them. Brooklyn is poised to make a run. The only question is how deep.

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