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Injuries Piling Up As NBA Title Betting Odds Change

The NBA playoffs had a familiar feel to them early on, with the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder rolling through their first round series'. With the top teams playing well, it was assumed by many that the Heat and Thunder were on a collision course to meet again in this year's finals.

The great equalizer, however, is health, and Oklahoma City found out after game two of their series with Houston that health can come and go at any time, leaving teams with altered expectations.

Russell Westbrook, the all-world point guard for the Thunder went down during the Thunder's series with the Rockets, and had surgery to repair his injured leg. Westbrook is now expected to be out for the remainder of the playoffs, leaving Oklahoma City fans wondering whether or not the team can remain on a championship path without their star guard.

The Thunder are just one of several teams that have seen their season expectations change due to injury. The biggest example this year has been the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers assembled one of the flashiest rosters this past off-season, then watched as the stars they assembled could not stay on the court together.

First, it was Steve Nash and Pau Gasol. Then down went Steve Blake, Nash again, and Metta World Peace. Even with all of those injuries, the Lakers made the playoffs, but their run was ended when they lost Kobe Bryant with just one game left in the regular season. Add in Dwight Howard's constantly ailing back, and the Lakers season was sabotaged.

During the course of the playoffs, the Knicks, Spurs, Warriors, and Nuggets have all dealt with their share of big injuries. The Clippers, are heading into an elimination game with the prospects of not having Blake Griffin on the court against Memphis.

While the rest of the league is struggling to stay healthy, the Heat have gotten back to full strength at the right time. Miami swept their first round series with Milwaukee, and now is awaiting the winner of the Brooklyn, Chicago series. The Heat remains the overwhelming betting favorite to win their second straight championship.

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