NBA Predictions: How Miami Heat 'Big Three' Changed Team Win Totals
by Trevor Whenham - 7/16/2010
The contentious creation of the ‘Big Three’ in Miami has had a massive and obvious impact not just on the Heat, but also on the Cavaliers and the Raptors. Figuring out just how all the changes will impact the teams is very difficult and requires all sorts of analysis and assumptions - especially since the roster overhaul isn’t yet complete in all three cities. It’s a fun puzzle to ponder, though - especially because Bodog is offering team totals much earlier than we usually see them for the three teams involved. Let’s take a look at each one in turn and offer some NBA betting predictions:
Miami Heat – ‘over/under’ 65 - It’s obvious that people have very high expectations for this team. The question, though, is whether this is too optimistic. Let’s be clear - 65 is a lot of wins. It’s not impossible to reach that total by any means, but last year Cleveland led the way with just 61 wins.
Cleveland and the Lakers both met or exceeded the 65-win plateau two years ago, and Boston had 66 wins the year before, so it can be done. To do it, though, the Big Three are going to have to hit the ground running and find immediate chemistry.
There are at least a couple of reasons why that’s not a certainty. First, all three guys are used to being the main piece on their own teams. Chris Bosh shouldn’t have too much trouble adjusting to a lesser role, but James and Wade both like to have the ball a lot, and like to be the guy who makes things happen when they need to happen. They’ll need to find a way to cooperate and give up some control while not being too tentative and giving too much up. I’m confident that they are confident that they can do it, and that are willing to do what it takes to make it work, or they wouldn’t have taken the big risk of playing together in the first place.
That being said, I expect growing pains, and teams that aim win more than 65 games can’t afford many growing pains. The second big issue is the supporting cast. When the Big Three signed the only other guy on the roster was Mario Chalmers, and he doesn’t do a very good impression of a big time point guard. They are making some progress, but they still have to add a lot of players for not very much money. That means that there are going to be some guys playing big minutes who certainly aren’t up to the caliber of their teammates. It also means that they are going to have to rely on a few players who are willing to play for the veteran’s minimum. You can get some good players that way, but there is a reason they are willing to play for such a small contract - they are in their final days in the league and are looking to go out on a high note.
Depth could be a real problem. All three of these players have dealt with some injury issues over the years, but if one or more were to miss any significant time this year then the team could really be compromised.
Miami won 47 games last year, but that’s totally irrelevant as a starting point for assessing this bet because Wade is the only returning major contributor. It’s certainly possible they could go ‘over,’ but it seems to me that this total is just a bit too optimistic. Surprisingly, the generally over-loving public agrees as the ‘under’ is solidly favored at -135 compared to the ‘over’ at -105.
Toronto Raptors – ‘over/under’ 27.5 - It’s obviously hard to be too optimistic about this team. They lost by far their best player. Hedo Turkoglu was a massive disappointment, but he’s still another solid player who is gone. Jose Calderon is still on board for now, but his days seem to be numbered if they can find a trade partner. All that being said, I think that this total is too low for this team. They won 40 games last year, and that was under a serious cloud of uncertainty with Bosh and a really negative influence from Turkoglu. Now they are rid of those problems, and have a rallying point - to prove that they are better than people expect.
They have done a decent job of retooling the roster as well as they can - like the addition of Leandro Barbosa. They have a couple of nice pieces to build around in Andrea Bargnani and especially DeMar DeRozan, and they have focused on assembling character guys with solid work ethics.
It’s an uphill battle for sure, but I really think this team has 30 or 35 wins in it. The ‘over’ and ‘under’ are both at -115, so the public hasn’t registered an opinion yet. I expect them to be fairly pessimistic, so there could be value on the ‘over’ as we get closer to the season.
Cleveland Cavaliers – ‘over/under’ 33.5 – ‘Under’. Way ‘under’. This organization has been spiritually gutted. They didn’t have enough talent to win when it mattered when they had the second best player on the planet playing for them, so why should we believe they can win now? They are going to lose both centers, and unless you like Antawn Jamison a heck of a lot more than I do then there isn’t a player to get particularly excited about on the roster, and they aren’t going to be able to do a whole lot about that in the short term. It could be ugly. I like Toronto a lot more than Cleveland right now.
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