- Dave Tuley, ESPN Insider
Two months ago, as the NBA season was getting ready to tip off after the resolution of the labor dispute, I was asked to do a preview from the Vegas point of view, taking a look at the top seven title contenders based on the future-book odds.
At that time, after a long lockout and condensed free-agent signing period led to a short training camp, the gist of my story was that we were entering a season with a lot of uncertainty due to all those factors plus a season shortened from 82 to 66 games per team with a lot of back-to-back and back-to-back-to-back games on the schedule. But Vegas puts up the odds regardless of the circumstances, so here was the preseason seven: Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls, Oklahoma City Thunder, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks.
Fast forward two months.
With the All-Star break this weekend, I was asked to reset the future-book odds and see how much they've changed. It's been a wild first half -- many are calling it the most exciting NBA regular season ever -- so a lot has changed, right?
You can see in the chart below how the midseason pecking order stood in the future-book odds at Lucky's Race & Sports Books as of Wednesday's action: Heat, Bulls, Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, Lakers, Clippers, Mavericks and Knicks. It's virtually the same as the preseason list, with the Heat on top. The Bulls and Thunder moved ahead of the falling Lakers; the Spurs are the only previously unranked team to crack the top of the list; the Clippers and Mavericks flip-flopped; and the Knicks are where they began the season, but only because of an amazing story not even the best screenplay writer could have penned.
Dave Tuley says the Heat, Bulls and Thunder still own the best odds to win the NBA title.