Could Favored Heat Go 16-0 in Playoffs? History, Odds Say No
No team in the modern era has run through the playoffs without a loss. Michael Jordan's 1995-96 Bulls, who set the NBA record with 72 regular-season wins, were beaten three times on the way to the championship.
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The best mark by a recent team was 15-1 by the 2000-01 Lakers of Shaq and Kobe. L.A. rolled through the Western Conference postseason at 11-0 but was upset at home in Game 1 of the NBA Finals by the 76ers in overtime. The Lakers won the next four rather easily and had to settle for being the only team to go unbeaten on the road in the postseason.
Thus the Miami Heat would put themselves in the record books this postseason by running the table, and they showed what they are capable of with a 27-game winning streak during the year. However, Miami is given just a +2500 shot on a yes-only prop at Bovada to go unbeaten in these playoffs.
The Heat are 5/8 favorites at the book to repeat as the NBA champions. They begin their best-of-7 opening round matchup against No. 8 Milwaukee as 11.5-point favorites. Miami won three of four regular-season meetings. Milwaukee ended the season losing five of six and the win was in a meaningless game at Oklahoma City in which the Thunder sat Kevin Durant.
*-No. 2 N.Y. Knicks versus No. 7 Boston: New York took three of four against Boston (3-1 ATS) and opened as a 7.5-point favorite for Game 1 Saturday. Knicks star Carmelo Anthony ended Durant's reign as the three-time scoring champion, but that's bad news for Knicks futures. The last team to win the title with a scoring champion was the 1999-2000 Lakers with Shaq. The Knicks are 16/1 to do so.
*-No. 3 Indiana versus No. 6 Atlanta: The Hawks slipped from No. 5 to No. 6 by losing their last two games. These teams split four regular-season meetings (2-2 ATS), each winning both at home. The Pacers are seven-point favorites for Game 1 Sunday and 25/1 to win the NBA title.
*-No. 4 Brooklyn versus No. 5 Chicago: Could Derrick Rose make his season debut in the playoffs for the Bulls? No one expects that, but the team hasn't ruled it out. Chicago won three of four meetings (3-1 ATS), but the Nets are five-point favorites for Game 1.
Not Much Confidence in Lakers
The Lakers didn't need to win their finale Wednesday against Houston to make the playoffs as it turned out, but it was a potentially big victory as it got L.A. the No. 7 seed and a better matchup on paper with No. 2 San Antonio instead of Oklahoma City. Still, the Lakers are 40/1 long shots to win the NBA title.
While Kobe Bryant is out for the playoffs, the Lakers hope Steve Nash will be ready for Game 1. He has missed eight straight with a hamstring injury. The Spurs got Manu Ginobili back for the first time Wednesday since March 29 but lost their third-straight game. The Spurs won two of three regular-season meetings (1-2 ATS), are nine-point favorites for the opener and 10/1 to win the West.
No. 1 Oklahoma City versus No. 8 Houston: James Harden faces the team that traded him on the eve of the season as Houston slipped to No. 8 by losing three of their final four. OKC won two of three meetings and didn't score less than 119 points in any game against one of the league's worst defenses. The Thunder are 4/1 to win the NBA title and 10-point Game 1 favorites.
No. 3 Denver versus No. 6 Golden State: The Nuggets, the NBA's highest-scoring team, bring a 23-game home winning streak into Game 1 and were an NBA-best 38-3 there this season. Denver won three of four meetings with the Warriors and is a 7.5-point favorite for Game 1.
No. 4 L.A. Clippers versus No. 5 Memphis: A rematch of last year's first-rounder when the Clippers beat the Grizzlies in seven games. L.A. is the hottest team in the West with a seven-game winning streak (5-2 ATS) and took three of four against Memphis. The Clips are 25/1 to win the West.
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