Vegas likes the Lakers, loves the Heat in 2011-12

Because it's apparently never too early to consider a target for your hard earned gambling dollars, the fine folks at Bodog have issued their early odds for next season's NBA title. Here's how it breaks down:

  • Miami- 5/2

  • Lakers- 11/2

  • Chicago- 6/1

  • Oklahoma City- 8/1

  • Dallas- 10/1

  • Boston- 12/1

  • San Antonio- 20/1

Those gravitating towards the underdog are urged to look north towards the 150/1 Toronto Raptors.

As Mark Medina of the LA Times Lakers Blog notes, terrestrial Vegas (as opposed to the online version) likes Miami, too. At the Las Vegas Hilton Race and Sports book, the Heat are getting 2/1 odds, with the Bulls at the same 6/1 and the Lakers a slightly less robust 7/1. Even while understanding the point of these lines isn't to predict which team will actually win but on where people will put their money, they still represent a good ballpark guesstimate of where the popular media love will go.

The next few seasons will almost surely be headlined by the Heat, who will quite reasonably be the pick of many insiders in 2011-12 despite having been proven mortal by the Mavs. Miami made the Finals in their first season together, and should improve. I'd be surprised if they didn't lead the league in preseason title predictions, but the Heat won't corner the market. The Bulls will get some attention among Eastern Conference contrarians, and while I think the Celtics as currently constructed are dead as a title contender, they probably have a few loyalists still left. Out West, the Lakers will likely share the spotlight with OKC, with votes mixed in for Dallas and perhaps even Memphis.

Assuming, of course, there's even a season on which to bet/make predictions.