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Deep dive into the Miami Heat’s run to the Eastern Conference Finals

We take a look at how the Heat’s title odds stack up against the rest of the field, plus go over how Miami got this far and some Jimmy Butler Finals MVP analysis.

Jimmy Butler of the Miami Heat handles the ball during the second quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2020 NBA Playoffs at The Field House at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on September 08, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Miami Heat are gaining traction as a legitimate title contender and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals by beating the Milwaukee Bucks 4-1 in the second round. They have an 8-1 record in the postseason and are four wins away from an NBA Finals appearance. We go over their betting odds below.

Update: The Heat will face the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. Game 1 will be Tuesday on ESPN.

How do they stack up against the rest of the field?

The Heat have the third best odds to win it all on DraftKings Sportsbook at +350. They only trail the Los Angeles Clippers (+200) and Los Angeles Lakers (+250). They have a narrow lead over the Boston Celtics (+500), who are up 3-2 in their second-round series against the Toronto Raptors (+1600).

Favorable future bets

You have to be kicking yourself if you didn’t get some action on the Heat and Lakers meeting in the championship series. I talked about how that matchup could be a favorable bet at +2500 in July, but the odds of the two sides meeting are now +320. Only a matchup between the Heat and Clippers (+260) is more likely at this point.

Best/Worst matchups

The Heat played well against Raptors this year and won the season series against the defending champs 2-1. However, they lost two of their three games against the Celtics. Both Los Angeles teams appear to have an advantage against the Heat, as the Lakers and Clippers are 2-0 against them on the year.

Jimmy Butler prop bets: NBA Finals MVP (+750)

Butler is Miami’s most impactful player and is able to be a difference maker on both sides of the ball. If he reaches the championship series against one of the two top teams in the western conference, he’ll likely be tasked with guarding elite wings like LeBron James, Paul George, and Kawhi Leonard while also having operating as his team’s top scoring threat. Only Leonard (+240), James (+350), and Jayson Tatum (+700) have better odds, so Butler is a viable option at this point in the playoffs.

Why do the Heat have a shot at the championship?

The Heat have two All-Stars in Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, but neither is a dominant superstar. However, the coaching ability of Erik Spoelstra, defensive versatility, and depth helps them compete with any team. Spoelstra is able to put together spectacular defensive game plans because so many of his key players can defend multiple positions.

The Heat added Andre Iguodala and Jae Crowder to a group that was anchored by Butler and Adebayo on the defensive end. All those players can defend two to three positions, which is optimal for switching against pick and roll sets.

Spoelstra also has a bevy of talented players who can get going in different ways. Even though Kendrick Nunn — one of the most productive rookies in the NBA during the regular season — has been inefficient in the bubble, Goran Dragic and Tyler Herro have been able to carry a large chunk of the scoring load in the backcourt. Sharpshooter Duncan Robinson doesn’t need the ball for long to score from beyond the arc. Butler isn’t close to being being an elite shooter, but has made more free throws than any other player in the playoffs. Adebayo isn’t a player who needs plays drawn up for him, but can score hustle points while also acting as a secondary or tertiary playmaker.

If Miami can continue to play some of the best team defense in the playoffs while knocking down open shots, it has a chance to beat any team making a run for the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

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