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Las Vegas oddsmakers tab Miami Heat as favorites to win 2012 NBA title

June 13, 2011 | 12:40 pm


Here's some good news for Laker fans: Coach Mike Brown will be good enough to keep the team competitive in the 2012 NBA playoffs.

Here's some bad news for Laker fans: That effort still won't be enough to win the 2012 NBA title.

Here's some good news for Laker fans: The Miami Heat imploded in the NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks.

Here's some bad news for Laker fans: The Heat will beat the Lakers in the 2012 NBA Finals.

Before you hurl pitchforks at me or unleash fire and brimstone, the above declarations simply reflect what the oddsmakers at Bodog Sports are predicting for next season, with the Heat holding 5-to-2 odds that they'll bounce back from a disappointing NBA Finals finish and the Lakers holding 11-to-2 odds that talks about the end of a dynasty are premature.

Jay Kornegay, director of the Las Vegas Hilton Race and Sports book, has tabbed the Heat as 2-to-1 favorites, unless the Chicago Bulls (6-to-1) get past them. That puts the Lakers (7-to-1) in a third-place tie with the Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder. Hey, at least the Purple & Gold are ahead of the Boston Celtics (8-to-1) or the Minnesota Timberwolves (300-to-1). 

"There's some better teams out there right now than the Lakers," Kornegay said. "The Heat still have all the pieces. The salary cap will come into play, but we still think they'll most likely find a couple of guys willing to play for that team at a budgeted price. The Bulls and Thunder are very similar, very young and have a lot of talent. The desire still remains with those two teams. And then you have the Mavericks, which just won the NBA title. We won't be sure how they'll react, however, after they climbed the mountain and the desire they will have. The only thing the Heat will have to reevaluate is why LeBron [James] doesn't shoot more. I'm sure they will. They're not that far off." 

As for the Lakers? Well, there are some issues to fix. Many of the bets reflect how poorly the Lakers ended their 2011 postseason with a four-game sweep to Dallas. But Kornegay lists a few other factors that are keeping the Lakers from being the favorites, including the team's aging roster ("Kobe [Bryant] is not a young pup anymore; he's got some miles on him") and the uncertainty regarding the hiring of Mike Brown ("The coaching change is going to be a challenge for the players and the coach as well.")

Keep in mind, however, what Pro Basketball Talk's Kurt Helin pointed out. The bookmaker's role entails predicting how the public will bet their money than actually assessing whether that prediction will pan out. Case in point, MGM Mirage's race and sports director Jay Rood said last year that he disagreed with predictions the Heat would win in the 2011 NBA Finals but still pinned them as the favorites because of public sentiment. Besides, Kornegay expects the NBA betting to pick up in the fall, even if there is a work stoppage.

"Money on the Lakers will be flowing in," he said. "Laker fans are pretty optimistic. They haven't turned on them. They're obviously still a very good team. They just have to overcome some challenges of getting older, there being a couple better teams and obviously the coaching changes. That's going to be a big adjustment for everyone. 

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Las Vegas oddsmaker disagrees with public sentiment that Miami Heat will beat the Lakers in the NBA Finals

-- Mark Medina

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Photo: The Las Vegas skyline. Credit: Brian Jones / Associated Press