Heat Become Biggest Longshots To Make NBA Finals Since 2002

Heat Become Biggest Longshots To Make NBA Finals Since 2002 article feature image

Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Jae Crowder #99 and Tyler Herro #14.

No one saw this coming. Well … almost no one.

The Miami Heat, a scrappy team with a star free agent they acquired last summer and full of confident and capable role players, shocked everyone outside of their own locker room by making the NBA Finals.

More impressive than the route they took to get to this point — sweeping the Indiana Pacers in the first round, knocking off the back-to-back MVP and his top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in five games, then out-hustling the Boston Celtics in six games — is how long the Heat's odds were entering this season.

Depending on the sportsbook, the Heat's NBA title odds were between 60-1 (DraftKings, PointsBet) and 110-1 (Circa) before the season tipped off. With most of the attention going to the Los Angeles Clippers, LA Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks, no one expected the Heat to be in this position.

Even the Brooklyn Nets, whose longest odds were listed at 50-1 got more love than the Heat from the betting market. It would be foolish not to point out how much has changed on this planet since those odds were listed nearly one year ago, but the Heat were still 30-1 to win the NBA championship prior to the restart.

Per data from Sports Odds History, the Heat are the first team to be listed at 60-1 in the preseason and make the NBA Finals since the New Jersey Nets during the 2001-02 season.

TeamPreseason OddsWon NBA Title?
2002 New Jersey Nets60-1No
2008 Los Angeles Lakers30-1No
2015 Golden State Warriors28-1Yes
2011 Dallas Mavericks20-1Yes
2009 Orlando Magic20-1No

Adding to their historic feats this postseason, the Heat are the lowest seeded team to make the NBA Finals since the 8-seeded New York Knicks during the 1999 lockout season.

They will face the the Los Angeles Lakers and could win their first championship since 2013 when LeBron James was still with the team. A win in the Finals would pair the Heat with the 1995 Houston Rockets as the only teams to win a championship as a No. 5 seed or lower.

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Nick Sterling
Apr 23, 2024 UTC