How much of a safe bet are the Miami Heat in the NBA playoffs?

Shandel Richardson

At the beginning of the season, few expected the Miami Heat to compete for a championship.

They were coming off missing the playoffs for the third time in five seasons. They lost the most decorated player in franchise history, Dwyane Wade, to retirement. They lacked star power.

And then they traded for Jimmy Butler in the offseason.

And Bam Adebayo developed into an All-Star.

And Duncan Robinson became one of the league's top 3-point threats.

And rookies Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro played above expectations.

Now, with the season set to return from suspension after the coronavirus pandemic, the Heat are poised to make a run in the Eastern Conference playoffs. They enter the final eight games of the regular season as the conference's No. 4 seed.

This is the time oddsmakers come into play.

The FanDuel Sportsbook has Miami's odds at +900 to win the conference behind the Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics and defending champion Toronto Raptors. According to BetOnline.ag, the Heat's chances are 18/1.

"I would put a sprinkle on Miami at +900, not because I think they will win the conference, but I think they have a decent shot at reaching the conference finals," SI.com gambling guru Corey Parson said. "That's when your hedge your bet. The NBA Playoffs futures market can be very profitable! Roll with me! Don't forget, when we last saw each other, our betting record was 85-75."

The Heat have benefited from Butler's leadership and the rapid development of the younger players. Still, they are a little on the inexperienced side. Their top five youngsters in the rotation have played a combined 77 minutes in the postseason, with all of them belonging to Adebayo when he earned them in a reserve role in 2018 in the first round against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Regardless, the Heat received their biggest endorsement this week from former NFL receiver and Miami native Chad Johnson. He encouraged fans they were a safe bet.

“The Heat are coming out the East, alright?” Johnson said in a Twitter post. “Listen to me. Listen to me because I love you. Alright, so if you’re a gambler and you’re about money, because you know I’m about money. I’m not about spending it, but I’m about my money. Put your money on the Heat coming out of the East.”

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TWITTER: @ShandelRich

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