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Public Makes Miami Heat And LeBron James The NBA Betting Favorites

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The Los Angeles Lakers have been to three straight NBA finals, and have won the last two. Up until the announcement Thursday on where LeBron James will play next season, the Lakers were favored to win next year's championship as well.

Within minutes of James announcing that he will be joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, the Heat became a 9/5 favorite at some sports books. Miami had odds of 20/1 as recently as last month, but as the James rumors became more of a reality, the odds steadily started to drop. By Thursday morning, the odds had reached 2/1.

The Heat being a favorite now may not last long, but the number was designed by odds makers to ensure they protect themselves against overzealous bettors that may have been excited over the big three of Bosh, Wade, and James. Sports books commonly use fan overreaction to their benefit.

"That number (9/5) is more on the basis of the wow factor," said Micah Roberts, former sports book director who covers gaming for several publications, as reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "It's not about what you think is going to happen. It's more about protecting the house against the onslaught of action. Right now, this is a hot topic and the action's going to come regardless of the number."

By the time the rest of the Heat roster is assembled and training camp begins, the Lakers may well again be the favorites. The Lakers odds are still 7/2, and the Orlando Magic are the third choice at 13/1. Cleveland's odds took the biggest hit, going from 10/1 to an astronomical 300/1.

Other teams may factor in to the top betting odds by the time the season starts. On Thursday, the defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics re-signed Ray Allen and also added Jermaine O'Neal for depth at the center position until start Kendrick Perkins returns from injury. San Antonio, Dallas, Denver, and Chicago will all be among the top ten choices to win next year's title.

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