The Miami Heat have captured lightning in a bottle during the NBA postseason, rolling past the Eastern Conference’s No. 1, 5 and 2 seeds to reach the franchise’s eighth NBA Finals.
Now, the Erik Spoelstra-coached club will square off against the West’s top team, in the Denver Nuggets, with Game 1 of the NBA Finals slated to tip off tonight at Ball Arena.
Oddsmakers at BetMGM Sportsbook aren’t riding high on the Heat’s chances, with Miami listed as an 8.5-point underdog and a moneyline of +290 for the visitors from South Florida in Game 1.
As for the series itself, BetMGM Sportsbook has the Heat at +310 to win the club’s fourth championship in 2023, while the Nuggets are a commanding -400 series favorite. BetMGM and other Florida sportsbooks will be a hot spot for Heat bettors when sports betting eventually passes in the state.
Lowest win totals to win NBA title
FloridaBet.com wanted to see whether the Heat, who finished the regular season with a 44-38 (.537) record, would qualify as the NBA’s “worst” champion by either metric.
Here’s what we found, utilizing Champs Or Chumps’ data to determine where the Heat would stand in the NBA’s record books with an NBA Finals upset win over the Nuggets.
Would The Heat Be The League’s Worst Championship Team?
Dating back to 1950, no number 8 seed has ever won an NBA title, with the sixth seeded Rockets in 1995 being the lowest ranked team to ever hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy since then.
The last two NBA champions, in the Golden State Warriors and Milwaukee Bucks, were third seeded teams in their respective conferences, while the previous nine champions prior to that were either No. 1 or 2 seeds.
Three third seeds, in the 2002 Lakers, 2007 Spurs and 2011 Mavericks, went on to win championships, serving as the lowest ranked teams to win a title this century.
Other than the 1995 Rockets, who finished that season with a 47-35 (.573) record, the only other teams seeded lower than No. 2 in their conference were the 1978 Bullets and the 1977 Trail Blazers.
In the 27 years between 1950 and 1976, 21 No. 1 seeds eventually won the NBA championship, while five No. 2 seeds won it all and the fourth seeded Celtics won the championship in 1969.
The only other eighth seed to even make the NBA Finals since 1950 was the 1999 New York Knicks, who lost in five games to the San Antonio Spurs in a strike-shortened season.
All of that is to say that the Heat would be the most unlikely champions in the modern NBA with a victory over the Nuggets in the 2023 NBA Final.
That uphill climb begins in earnest on Thursday night in Denver, when the Heat and Nuggets square off under the sport’s brightest lights along the Front Range of the Rockies.
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