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With NBA Lockout Over, Gamblers Turn To Championship Betting Odds

The NBA is coming off one of the best seasons in league history. The buzz created when LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade in Miami carried on throughout the year, and their appearance in the finals helped lift the sport back to heights not seen since Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson were running the floor.

Shortly after last season, however, a dark cloud built over the league when owners locked out the players. That lockout lasted for several months, but the owners and players finally came to a new agreement last week. The season is now set to start on Christmas Day, and that gives gamblers plenty of time to start preparing.

"I was planning on going this entire year without placing a basketball bet," said Ryan Branser, who had just emerged from a Las Vegas sports book. "As soon as the lockout ended, I flew to Vegas with a few of my buddies and we placed our annual future bets on who would win the title."

Branser, like many of the sports gamblers who were frequenting the sports books on Tuesday, placed his money on the Heat. Miami came within a couple of games of delivering a championship in the first season that the "Big Three" were together. The Heat are the favorites going into this season, with odds of 2/1. The Lakers, who had won two straight titles before last year, are the second choice at 5/1.

The defending champion Dallas Mavericks are only the fourth choice, with 7/1 odds. The Mavericks are joined with the 7/1 odds by Oklahoma City. Chicago, a team that made it to the Eastern Conference finals last season, is the third choice at 6/1. The Boston Celtics, gearing up for one last run with their own version of the "Big Three" are 10/1 choices.

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