- BetOnline’s updated odds have the Heat (-1000) as heavy favorites in the Southeast
- Jimmy Butler is averaging 20.6 points, 7.0 assists and 6.9 rebounds in his first season with Miami
- The Magic (+600) have no chance to win the division despite the impending return of Nikola Vucevic
Pat Riley finally has his mojo back. Left high and dry by LeBron James in the summer of 2014, it took the ultra-suave 74-year-old five full years to rebuild the Heat, but here they are, legitimate Eastern Conference contenders.
Thanks to the free-agent acquisition of Jimmy Butler and some sage draft selections and signings by the NBA legend, Miami is running away with the Southeast with a scorching 18-6 record.
Let’s look at the updated odds at BetOnline and decide whether the Heat’s division rivals have any hope of catching them.
NBA SOUTHEAST DIVISION ODDS
|Team||Current Odds||Trending||Before Season|
Jimmy Butler has always had a bit of a reputation as a malcontent, but can you really blame him for wanting out of Chicago and Minnesota?
The four-time All-Star was the Sixers’ best player in last year’s playoffs, averaging 22 points, 7 rebounds and 5.6 assists in a hard-fought seven-game-series-loss to the Raptors. After signing a four-year, $142 million contract with the Heat in the offseason, he’s carried that same level of play to South Beach.
? @JimmyButler and @Bam1of1 become the 1st @MiamiHEAT teammates EVER with TRIPLE-DOUBLES in the SAME GAME!
Butler: 20 PTS | 18 REB (career-high) | 10 AST
Bam: 30 PTS (career-high) | 11 REB | 11 AST (career-high) pic.twitter.com/A0nEEXlfGF
— NBA (@NBA) December 11, 2019
The 30-year-old is one of just five NBA players averaging at least 20 points, six rebounds and six assists this season; a list that includes James Harden, Luka Doncic, LeBron James and Russell Westbrook.
Essentially, he’s a superstar in a league where teams absolutely need a superstar to win. Butler also has an ideal running mate in 22-year-old center Bam Adebayo, who has taken a giant third-year leap with averages of 15.3 points, 10.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.2 blocks per game.
Still unbeaten at home this season, the Heat hit the jackpot with 24-year-old guard Kendrick Nunn. An out-of-nowhere Rookie of the Year contender, Nunn recently scored the most points (36) by an undrafted rookie since 2008.
Jimmy Butler reacted to Trae yelling “It’s over!” before Miami went on to win ? pic.twitter.com/giRHONC57M
— ESPN (@espn) December 11, 2019
And don’t forget about late-lottery-gem Tyler Herro, who’s shooting 39-percent from 3-point range while averaging 14 points, four boards and two assists per contest in his rookie season.
In addition to being a lock to win the division (don’t even think about betting on someone else), Miami is also a sneaky Finals contender because they have a number of high-dollar contracts they can use to bring in a star like Chris Paul or Jrue Holiday.
THE REST OF THE DIVISION
Before suffering back-to-back losses to the Bucks and Lakers this week, Orlando (+600) was on a four-game winning streak. Now sitting at 11-13, it sure seems like the Magic’s best-case scenario is securing the seventh or eighth seed in the putrid East.
Barring the outstanding play of second-year point guard Trae Young, is there a more disappointing team than the Hawks? Making me look positively foolish for recommending them as a +700 longshot to win the division in our preseason primer, Atlanta is now +10000 after an ugly 6-18 start to the year.
Most 30-Pt, 10-Ast games before turning 22 years old (via @EliasSports)
? Trae Young – 12
? LeBron James – 11 pic.twitter.com/mioZ5WVWii
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 5, 2019
Finally, there’s the Wizards (+10000) and the Hornets (+10000), two franchises that allowed Michael Jordan to embarrass himself in two entirely different ways. As always, these teams are terrible. Please do not wager on them to win anything.
Best Bet: Miami (-1000)