The Miami Heat are the clear favorite to win the NBA championship at 5/8, and their title defense begins Sunday at home against the Milwaukee Bucks.
But the Bucks have been tough against the spread, going 5-2 ATS in seven recent visits to Miami and 6-3 ATS in nine meetings overall. Still, a Bucks series victory would be one of the biggest upsets in NBA history and pays out at +7000 at one sportsbook tracked by OddsShark.com.
Miami won the conference's top seed by a wide margin, finishing the regular season with a record of 66-16 SU and 46-36 ATS. After having their historic 27-game win streak snapped, Miami finished the year on a 10-1 SU and 9-2 ATS run even while getting LeBron James and Dwyane Wade some rest.
This Heat team is even deeper and stronger than the one that won the championship last season.
Miami is an 11.5-point favorite at home in Sunday's series opener. The total is set at 200 points.
Milwaukee slipped into the playoffs by being the "best of the rest" in the lopsided Eastern Conference. The Bucks finished with a mediocre 38-44 SU and 36-45-1 ATS record. They come into the playoffs with no momentum at all, as they're on a 4-12 SU run over their last 16 games.
There isn't much pointing to this team being any threat in the playoffs, as their 500/1 odds to win the NBA championship would indicate.
As a small silver lining for the Bucks, they have enjoyed some recent success against the Heat. Milwaukee is 4-4 SU and 5-3 ATS in its last eight games against Miami and even handed the Heat one of their 16 regular season losses back in December.
While they don't have any realistic shot of beating the Heat in a seven-game series, the Bucks could provide good value on an upset pick at home in Game 3 or Game 4, especially if Games 1 and 2 in Miami are blowouts.
Considering the roll the Heat are on right now, it is difficult to see any team in the East denying LeBron and company their third straight Eastern Conference title and perhaps a second straight NBA title as well.