Oddsmaker sets Spurs as slight favorites over Heat in 2014 NBA Finals
The Heat will look to complete their three-peat quest as underdogs.
Oddsmaking service Bovada.LV lists the Spurs as a slight favorite in the 2014 Finals, which begin Thursday night at San Antonio's AT&T Center. San Antonio is given 4/5 odds while Miami is set at 21/20.
Those lines amount to a reversal of preseason expectations and a drastic change from last year, when the Heat beat the Spurs in seven games to win the 2013 Finals.
Miami opened the 2013-14 season as 2-1 favorites to win the title, with San Antonio set at 12-1, the eighth-best odds in the league.
Here's a look at the odds for 2014 Finals MVP as well as the various series results.
Odds to win 2014 NBA Finals MVP
Lebron James (Heat): 6/5
Tim Duncan (Spurs): 5/2
Tony Parker (Spurs): 13/5
Dwyane Wade (Heat): 8/1
Manu Ginobili (Spurs): 11/1
Chris Bosh (Heat): 16/1
Kawhi Leonard (Spurs): 18/1
Danny Green (Spurs): 30/1
Ray Allen (Heat): 50/1
Boris Diaw (Spurs): 75/1
Mario Chalmers (Heat): 75/1
Exact Series Result
Miami Heat win 4-0: 11/1
Miami Heat win 4-1: 7/1
Miami Heat win 4-2: 7/2
Miami Heat win 4-3: 5/1
San Antonio Spurs win 4-0: 14/1
San Antonio Spurs win 4-1: 5/1
San Antonio Spurs win 4-2: 11/2
San Antonio Spurs win 4-3: 7/2
The Heat also entered the 2013 Finals as a heavy favorite with 5/12 odds, while San Antonio was set at 2/1. The Spurs and Heat are the first pair of teams to face each other in consecutive Finals since Michael Jordan's Bulls beat the Jazz, led by Karl Malone and John Stockton, in both 1997 and 1998.
So why are LeBron James and company, who waltzed through the East playoffs with a 12-3 (.800) record, now viewed as underdogs? Mostly because San Antonio has enjoyed an exceptional season and strong postseason run, in which they have handily beaten three of the league's top-10 teams in the Mavericks, Blazers and Thunder.
The Spurs finished with a league-best 62 wins (compared to Miami's 54), a league-best +7.7 point differential (compared to Miami's +4.80 , and have posted a league-best +10.1 net rating during the playoffs compared to Miami's +8.3). San Antonio also holds home-court advantage this year, a reversal from 2013, and the Spurs went a perfect 7-0 at home in May, winning each game by at least 17 points. San Antonio is 12-6 (.666) overall in the postseason, posting 9-1 (.900) at home.
The 2014 Finals will follow a 2-2-1-1-1 format rather than the 2-3-2 format that was used for the last 29 years.
More SI.com NBA playoff coverage
STERLING COVERAGE: NBA scores legal victory with Sterling agreementPHOTOS: Greatest upsets | NBA playoffs fashion | LeBron’s best playoff games