The Best Team Ever* may have dropped the 2011 NBA Finals to the upstart Dallas Mavericks. But in Vegas, that just means that the Miami Heat have a new role in store for 2012: front runners for next year's crown (if there's a next year in the NBA).
Shortly after former Atlanta Hawks guard Jason Terry, NBA Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki and Mavs owner Mark Cuban took their trophy to South Beach, Covers.com was running a story about how Cantor Race and Sports was already taking deposits on who would win next year's championship.
As long as the 2011-12 campaign survives next year's lockout, the answer, of course, is for a
repeat first time title for the trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade an Chris Bosh a/k/a the Best Team Ever*. The Heat go off as 2/1 favorites, followed by the Eastern Conference regular season champion Chicago Bulls at 6/1 and the NBA Champ Mavs, the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder at 7/1.
The Boston Celtics go off at 8/1 followed by the San Antonio Spurs (15/1), Orlando Magic (20/1), Denver Nuggets, New York Knicks and Portland Trail Blazers (30/1) and the New Orleans Hornets and Memphis Grizzlies (40/1).
For those keeping score, your "Spirit-ed" Atlanta Hawks are the sixth choice in the East and the 13th selection in the NBA as a 50-to-1 longshot to win the coveted Larry O'Brien Trophy.
The Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Nets close out the theoretical playoff list in the East at 60-to-1, followed by the Los Angeles Clippers at 75/1.
Then come your really long shots. Your 100/1 options include the Houston Rockets, Milwaukee Bucks, Indiana Pacers, Golden State Warriors, Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings, Charlotte Bobcats, Cleveland Cavaliers and Washington Wizards.
The Detroit Pistons have a 200/1 chance of capturing the NBA crown, while the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Toronto Raptors bring up the rear as 300/1 underdogs.