In Florida, the talk ever since Miami Heat clinched back-to-back NBA titles in June has been of the ‘three-peat.’
Becoming the first team to win a trio of successive titles since the Los Angeles Lakers vintage of 2000-2002 will have consumed Miami minds ever since the thrilling Game 7 play-off win over San Antonio Spurs two months ago, and the Heat look well-equipped to back that up with another success.
That the 2012 and 2013 champions are the clear 2/1 favourites to do so indicates this too, and with a record which included them winning 12 more matches than the second-placed New York Knicks last season, everything seems to be pointing towards more Heat glory next summer.
Of course, much pressure will again be heaped on the considerable shoulders of LeBron James, especially with fitness concerns are still hovering over Dwyane Wade, but when fit the pair dominate matches in the manner that Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant did in that all-conquering Lakers team of the early noughties.
Should James continue his rapid development then comparisons with the Michael Jordan-inspired Chicago Bulls team – which clinched two ‘three-peats’ in the 1990s – will become more apparent too.
Competition in the forthcoming season could come in the form of the much-fancied Indiana Pacers, who look a strong each-way shout for the championship at 14/1.
With the likes of Roy Hibbert and Paul George on their roster the Pacers could well be the strongest challengers to the Heat in the Eastern Conference as they challenge for a first place in the finals since 2000.
But whether or not they possess the star quality to beat and go beyond the reigning champions is extremely doubtful, and opposing the Heat should really be avoided at any cost.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publication