The lowest seed to ever win an NBA title was the sixth-seeded “Never underestimate the heart of a champion” Rockets in 1995, but bet the Kia that the team holding the Larry O’Brien trophy this year will be a four seed or better.
That leaves eight teams.
1. San Antonio Spurs, 51-12 (entering play March 7)
2. Boston Celtics, 46-15
3. Dallas Mavericks, 45-17
4. Chicago Bulls, 43-18
5. Los Angeles Lakers, 45-19
6. Miami Heat, 43-20
7. Oklahoma City Thunder, 39-22
8. Orlando Magic, 40-23
According to Bodog, all eight are not created equal.
1. Lakers, 3-1 odds of winning the title
2. Heat, 3-1
3. Celtics, 9-2
4. Spurs, 5-1
5. Bulls, 9-1
6. Mavericks, 12-1
7. Magic, 15-1
8. Thunder, 18-1
Look at defensive field goal percentage NBA rankings as an indicator of success.
1. Bulls, 42.9 percent
2. Heat, 43.0
3. Celtics, 43.6
4. Magic and Lakers, 43.8
8. Spurs, 44.9
12. Mavericks, 45.1
20. Thunder, 46.4
Then, consider a team’s weakest link.
The Heat close like the Golden Girls.
The Spurs are a JV team without Tony Parker.
The Mavericks don’t have enough rebounders.
The Magic have a losing record against winning teams.
The Thunder’s core is still rawer than a cold seafood platter from Union Oyster House.
The Bulls are short on 2 guards.
The Celtics are two deep at every position except center.
The Lakers have seven players in their rotation 30 or over.
Add up all the intangibles, crunch every number like an MIT Ph.D. and predicting an NBA champion remains an inexact science. Being correct 54 percent of the time is enough for a professional gambler to make a living.
Smart money says the Lakers or Celtics will be crowned king in 2011.
If the Finals started today, the Lakers would have the edge (even without home-court advantage) due to the size of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. The Celtics need to get healthy and jell.
Threepeat or Banner 18?
Whatever happens between now and June, remember wise guy rule No. 1: Don’t pick with your heart.