The 2012-13 NBA schedule is set to be released any day now and thanks to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, basketball fans get an early peak at the marquee games for the defending champion Miami Heat.
The Heat are reportedly set to open the season against the Boston Celtics at home, debuting former Celtics sharpshooter Ray Allen and their new championship banner at the American Airlines Arena on Oct. 30.
According to Andrew Patterson, senior oddsmaker for the Las Vegas Sports Consultants, Miami should be around an 8-point favorite for the season opener, despite a history of teams performing badly when celebrating last season’s championship.
“I might be a bit high with an 8 or 8.5,” Patterson told Covers
. “Teams sometimes give a lackluster effort when raising a banner, with all the focus on last year’s title. But from a pure line-making perspective, and looking at last year’s spreads versus the Celtics, it seems like an -8.”
The Heat are also reportedly making another Christmas Day appearance in a NBA Finals rematch at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Patterson says this spread should be around Miami -4.5 and says the Heat’s offseason additions are the biggest factors.
“They went out and upgraded with guys like Allen and (Rashard) Lewis, while Oklahoma City is pretty much the same team as last year,” he says. “I think Miami will want to show that they’re still the dominant team in the league.”
Miami closed as a 4.5-point home favorite for Game 3 of the NBA Finals and covered in four of the five Finals contests versus the Thunder.
Perhaps the biggest matchup on the upcoming NBA schedule is between the Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers. With the Lakers’ addition of veteran point guard Steve Nash, Los Angeles reclaimed its spot among the top teams in the Western Conference. But, with the rumored future addition of Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, L.A. could be the team to beat in 2012-13.
Los Angeles hosts Miami on Jan. 17 and Patterson believes – with Howard – the Lakers will be 1-point home chalk versus the defending champs.
“I think Dwight Howard is going to end up in Los Angeles by this time in the season,” he says. “And even just with the addition of Steve Nash, the Lakers have a true point guard, for the first time in a long time, creating shots for Kobe (Bryant).”
Patterson says the 1-point spread is mostly due to the fact that Los Angeles will have time to gel as a team by Jan. 17. If the matchup was to happen earlier in the schedule, Miami would likely be a 2-point road favorite.
The Heat play hosts to the Lakers on Feb 10 as projected 5-point home favorites. Patterson is quick to point out that this Sunday contest comes on the first Sunday following Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3.
“You gotta love the NBA,” Patterson laughs. “All about that ratings grab.”