It's getting to be crunch time in the 2014 NBA playoffs, as a four-team bracket will soon drop to two, and those two will head to the NBA Finals.
While the Oklahoma City Thunder fight to get back in their Western Conference Finals series with San Antonio, the Miami Heat look to keep their quest alive for a three-peat against Indiana.
The Thunder are down 2-0 heading home to Oklahoma City, and the Pacers won Game 1 over the two-time defending champs, but the odds are being awfully harsh on their chances of winning it all. Meanwhile, the odds also point toward a potential 2013 Finals rematch between the Spurs and the Heat.
Let's break down every team's chances of hoisting the Larry O'Brien Trophy, according to Las Vegas' latest lines:
|2014 NBA Finals: Odds to Win Title|
|San Antonio Spurs||-115|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||+1625|
Western Conference Finals
They might not be defending the crown, but it's not hard to see why the oddsmakers are fans of the San Antonio Spurs right now.
Gregg Popovich's crew took it to the Thunder in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, beating them 122-105 after the game was tight late in the third quarter. And as if a 17-point win wasn't enough, the Spurs completely beat down OKC the next game, winning 112-77 for one of the most lopsided playoff games in recent memory.
The Spurs are running an unbeatable offense, clamping down on defense and have nearly every player on their roster clicking with one another in a way no remaining NBA team has at the moment.
But with the Thunder returning home and one simple news report being released, the series might shift dynamics completely in Game 3. According to ESPN's Royce Young, the team announced that big man Serge Ibaka has had his status shifted from indefinitely out to day-to-day and could be available for Game 3 in Oklahoma.
The Spurs have been absolutely gashing the Thunder in the paint this series, but Ibaka's presence could bring that to a screeching halt as well as open up the offense a bit as well—which is sorely needed.
Just as well, OKC went back home down 2-0 to the Spurs just two years ago and rattled off four straight wins to advance to the Finals.
Considering Ibaka's return and recent history, the line might shift dramatically in Oklahoma City's favor if it just so happens to win Game 3.
Eastern Conference Finals
These odds sure don't reflect your average conference finals series tied at one game apiece.
The Indiana Pacers struggled in a way few true title contenders ever have late in the season, and it continued into the postseason. But as expected, they took it up a few notches when the Heat came to town.
Paul George and company started out on fire offensively in a 107-96 Game 1 win over the defending champs, but it didn't take long for the Heat to answer with a championship-caliber response in Game 2. They got their bearings back on defense, played their style and ground out an 87-83 win with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade exploding in the fourth.
With the Heat returning home for two games, Indiana will have its grit tested on the road and could very well return home for Game 5 on the brink of elimination if Miami keeps up its defensive success from Game 2.
Just as well, these numbers will take a sharp turn, just like out West, if the Pacers are able to surprise and elongate the series—or even put the Heat's backs against the wall for Game 5. And with the team announcing on its official website that George won't miss time from a concussion suffered in Game 2, it appears they'll be at full strength.
Vegas certainly thinks the Heat will do so given their odds as compared to Indiana's, but at the end of it, the Spurs are apparently the team to beat. Of course, Miami can't think about that until the top seed in the East is out of the way.