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NBA Playoff Betting Preview: Heat Have Tough Road To Finals

The Miami Heat have been the favorites to win the NBA Championship this season, and at times, the Heat have looked dominant. Other times, however, Miami has looked average, and since the All-Star break the Heat have played just above .500 basketball, leading some analysts to now predict the Spurs, Thunder, or Bulls may now be the favorite.

The playoffs begin this weekend, and Miami is still the choice of odds makers. The Heat will have one of the toughest roads to the title, having finished in the two spot behind Chicago in the regular season.

The most likely first round opponent for the Heat will be the New York Knicks. The Knicks hold the seven position with just one game left in the regular season. A win tonight or a loss by Philadelphia would have the Knicks and Heat face off in the first round. Carmelo Anthony and his teammates have played much better in the second half and could provide a worthy opponent for Miami.

If Miami gets by the Knicks, they likely would be staring at a match up with one of the league's hottest teams, Indiana. The Pacers have been steady all season long, and possess the type of interior play that could give the Heat fits in a seven game series. Miami and Indiana have both won on each others home court this year, so home court advantage should not be much of an issue for either team.

Should Miami make it to the conference finals, the top seeded Bulls could be waiting. Chicago and Miami have played some physical battles, and the teams have swapped wins this season. Chicago had home court advantage in last year's conference finals, but Miami was the better team and won the series.

Whoever comes out of the East is looking at three teams favored to win the West. The San Antonio Spurs have flown under the radar, but wrestled the top seed away from Oklahoma City in the final two weeks of the season. The Thunder are one of the betting favorites to win a title, with the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant also poised to make a run deep into the playoffs.

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