The Heat are historic Game 1 faves vs. Celtics

May 27, 2012 |
Is Miami a slam dunk to get past Boston? The oddsmakers say yes.
Is Miami a slam dunk to get past Boston? The oddsmakers say yes.
Maybe Rajon Rondo knows something oddsmakers don’t.

Shortly after dispelling the Philadelphia 76ers in a surprisingly competitive seven-game series, the Boston Celtics star point guard was asked about his team’s next opponent, the Miami Heat.

“We feel we can beat Miami,” Rondo told Comcast SportsNet. “Obviously we got to this point. There’s no doubt in my mind that we can, so we’ve got to go down there [Miami] and take care of business.”

Oddsmakers aren’t quite as bullish on the C’s chances against LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Miami is an 8-point favorite in Game 1 against Boston. That’s the second largest spread in Game 1 of an NBA conference final since 1997. Update: The line has been bet up to 8.5 at several books. opened its series price at -500/+420 while went a tad higher with the Heat as -550 faves. And that’s not even really the true price, mathematically speaking.

“We just sent out the Heat -8 on the first game,” Pete Korner, founder of the line consultant group Sports Club, told Covers in an email, “so that translated into a Miami -800/+550 for a series price. Now again, that's strictly by the math.”

I won’t get into it here but there’s a formula that makes up a series price based off the odds for Game 1 of a series. If the Heat were -800 faves that would mean the Celtics would have just a one-in-nine chance of upsetting Miami.

“It's certainly high," Covers Expert Ted Sevransky said of the series price. "That being said, all [the books] are looking to do is draw two-way action, and they're not going to do that unless the Celtics are 4/1 or higher."

Pro handicapper and database guru Marc Lawrence says there have been 10 instances since 1991 where a favorite has given 7 or more points in Game 1 of an NBA conference final (see above chart). Those favored teams went 9-1 straight up and 7-3 against the spread.

Last note: The only team of those 10 to lose outright was the 2009 Cleveland Cavaliers, who were led by, that’s right, LeBron James. The Cavs were -600 series chalk but lost to the Orlando Magic in six games.
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