The basketball season will not just tip off Tuesday, it will tip off with a real bang. LeBron James, Chris Bosh and the new-look Miami Heat will visit the defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics in a showdown that many project will be a preview of next spring’s conference finals.
The betting public has been in love with Miami ever since King James held his tasteless one-hour T.V. special on ESPN to announce his move to South Beach. Former Raptors star Bosh wasn’t far behind to piggyback on James and Dwyane Wade’s shoulders, making the Heat the popular pick to win this season’s NBA championship.
In fact, Pinnacle Sports has Miami listed as +134 favourites to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy next spring. Last year’s champs, the Lakers, are priced at +269 to repeat.
For as many superstars as the Heat now has, however, there is still only one basketball to go around. It will be interesting to see how quickly Miami coach Erik Spoelstra can get James, Bosh and Wade – all accustomed to getting the ball in crunch time – on the same page.
Oddsmakers seem skeptical that the Heat can do it by Tuesday. Miami is only a one-point favourite at Boston.
That line is also out of respect for the Celtics, who added Shaquille O’Neal to their strong quartet of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo.
Even with the Heat’s star-studded lineup, it looks like Miami should be in for a tough battle on opening night.