Miami is playing in the NBA Finals for the third season in a row and is a big favorite to claim a second straight crown.
Online sportsbooks opened the Heat as 6-point favorites for Thursday's Game 1 (it had been bet down to -5.5 as of Wednesday afternoon, according to OddsShark.com) and -215 favorites to win the series. The Spurs would pay +185 for the series upset ($100 risk pays out a $185 profit).
There are plenty of indicators pointing to Miami, despite their seven-game war with Indiana, which contrasts with San Antonio's pillow fight with Memphis.
To tip things off, Miami is the defending champion, and the top seed, having posted the best record in the league this season. As the adage goes, they're still the champs, until somebody knocks them off.
Also, Miami went 37-4 at home during the regular season, second-best in the league. If this series goes the full seven games, the Heat will play four games at home. They have also beaten the Spurs four straight overall.
As far as personnel goes, each team has its Big Three, but Miami's is younger and more dynamic. Chris Bosh has been catching some heat in the press lately for some low numbers, but are numbers the only measure of a player's performance?
Dwyane Wade's high point total for these playoffs so far is only 21, but that came in Monday's Game 7 Eastern Conference Finals victory over Indiana. Might he be ready to go off? Also, Wade's got a history of playing big on big stages.
As LeBron James goes, so goes Miami, and lately LeBron's been going pretty good. He just went off for 32 points in Monday night's clincher.
As for Miami's championship series opponent, San Antonio swept Memphis out of the Western Conference Finals in four games, and will play Thursday's Finals opener on 10 days off. But while that kind of time off can help heal various ailments, such as Tony Parker's sore leg, it can also take the steam out of a run.
"The NBA and MLB are not the same beast, but we seem to recall the Detroit Tigers, heading into the World Series last Fall on a week off, flopping like dead fish in getting swept four games by the San Francisco Giants," said Jack Randall in an interview from OddsShark.com.
The Giants had to endure a seven-game league championship series but then rolled through the Tigers. Fans who predict a Heat sweep can enjoy a 7-1 payout, according to NBA Finals props posted at OddsShark.com.
Miami had trouble with Indiana's size in that just-completed Eastern Finals series. But while San Antonio is also big with Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter, it's not as big as the Pacers. The Spurs are much more of a finesse team than Indiana, a style the Heat are able to better deal with.
The Heat and Spurs will play Game 2 of this NBA championship series Sunday night in Miami, before heading out to San Antonio for Games 3, 4 and, if necessary, 5 next Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.
Games 6 and 7 would be played back in Florida.