Rule the Heat out of making it to a third straight NBA Finals

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The Miami Heat sealed consecutive NBA titles last season by virtue of the fact that they had home advantage in series-deciding matches against the Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs. This year they won’t have such luxury.

In owning the best regular season record in the NBA, Miami had the considerable privilege of playing at the American Airlines Arena for Game Seven tussles in the Eastern Conference and NBA finals, earning victories in both thanks to the roar of the home support.

This term, there are four teams with better records than them after the 82-game season and as one of those is the Pacers, a three-peat no longer looks as achievable for LeBron James and co.

With eight teams from each conference battling it out for the chance to contest the finals, the name the finalist market is a chance to find some real value with some attractively priced combinations available.

Considering the Heat no longer have home advantage, backing the season’s two top seeds – Indiana in the East and San Antonio in the West – looks good at 9/2.

However, the last time the best sides from each Conference met in the final was all the way back in 2008 which lends itself to a punt on a weightier price.

In the last two seasons the West has been represented by the second seed, which means the Oklahoma City Thunder are looking in good shape for a second Finals appearance in three years.

No seed lower than fourth from either side of the US has made it all the way to the Finals since the New York Knicks did it all the way back in 1999.

That means the Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls join the Heat and Pacers as the only realistic options to oppose the Thunder in this year’s Championship series.

A Raptors/Thunder clash is a 66/1 chance, while the Bulls are 40/1 to meet Kevin Durant’s side in the showpiece series.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.