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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Friday, May 9, 2014 at 3:00 PM

It may seem a bit early to ask that question. After all, we’re only two games into the second round…and it’s clear that parity has been a major theme thus far in the 2014 NBA Playoffs. Underdog bettors have been making a fortune. There are clearly a few championship caliber teams still alive in the brackets.

But, as I was watching Miami go at half speed much of the night Thursday before turning on the jets in the fourth quarter of their 94-82 win over Brooklyn, I realized that the Heat are so well positioned to go the distance for the third straight season that it might already be a done deal.

Yes, San Antonio is great

Yes, Oklahoma City is extremely talented

Yes, the Los Angeles Clippers have stretches where they look unbeatable

The problem with those three is, they all play in the same conference and have to beat each other! Barring an injury, Miami is going to have an easy time with Brooklyn based on what we’ve seen so far. Sure, the Nets can win a game or two at home if they play very well and the Heat take a night off. But, Miami’s going to win this series unless LeBron James gets hurt. I think the Heat would still win even if Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh got hurt. That’s how far they are ahead talent-wise.

In the Eastern finals, Miami is either going to face inexperienced and outmatched Washington, or inconsistent and untrustworthy Indiana. Maybe that develops into something interesting if Indiana can find something resembling the form of their first 40 games. For now, it looks like a cakewalk.

Miami is HEALTHY, which is of vital importance in the postseason

Miami is FRESH, having coasted all season, then swept Charlotte

Miami will have HOME COURT in the East vs. anyone but Indiana, and may not need it vs. Indiana

Miami has THE BEST PLAYER in the league at or near his career peak

Miami’s ROLE PLAYERS are bigger contributors now than they’ve been in the last few seasons

Stick Miami in the West, and it might be a four-way toss-up with San Antonio, OKC, and LAC as to who would win a mini-tournament. In fact, Miami only has the fourth best record in that group, which means they wouldn’t have home court advantage vs. anybody.

But, with Miami in the East, they have it in their power to enter the league finals fresh as a daisy, while it’s virtually certain that whoever survives the West will be banged up, exhausted, mentally drained, and probably a step or two slow defensively out of the gate. Even though Miami won’t have home court in the championship round, they’ve fully established they can beat anyone anywhere at least once or twice in a series. That’s probably all they’ll need.

Back in the NFL season, the stage was set fairly early for the Seattle Seahawks to run the table and win the championship. Once they earned home field in the playoffs, they were in great shape. And, you knew they’d have a much better defense than whoever they faced in the Super Bowl. They ultimately embarrassed the Denver Broncos with great defense. Right now in the NBA, I’m getting the same vibe for Miami. The stage is set for them significantly better than it is for anyone else.

Does that mean I’ll be backing Miami every time they take the floor from this point forward? Well, The DEAN OF SPORTS HANDICAPPING knows you have to take every game as it comes. You will still have plenty of hard work to do as you progress through my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping between now and the final trophy ceremony. I hope you keep applying the lessons I’ve been teaching in recent coursework (particularly the nuts and bolts elements of basketball matchups).

Be aware though, that the oddsmakers seem to be underestimating Miami…as unbelievable as that sounds. How can the market UNDER-estimate the two-time defending league champions and three-time defending Eastern Conference champions?

Miami (-10) covered by 1 over Charlotte in Game One

Miami (-10) failed to cover by 6 in Game Two

Miami (-4) covered by 9 in Game Three

Miami (-7) covered by 4 in Game Four

Miami (-8) covered by 13 over Brooklyn in Game One

Miami (-7) covered by 5 over Brooklyn in Game Two

That’s 5-1 against the spread, with an average cover of 4.3 points per game. If you added four points to every spread, Miami would still be 3-2-1 ATS. You have to add FIVE points to every spread to give the Heat a losing record vs. the number so far (2-3-1 ATS).

I have some very interesting things planned this weekend for that series plus the rest of the NBA Playoff schedule. You can always purchase my BEST BETS right here at this very website with your major credit card. If you have any questions about packages that take you through the rest of the NBA Playoffs, talk to one of my representatives in the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-888-777-4155. Be sure to ask about baseball and Triple Crown racing when you call.

I’ll be back with you next week for more coursework. I expect that our report early next week will be on Major League Baseball because we haven’t discussed that in awhile. But, I always stay flexible so we can respond to developing stories as needed. Maybe something will happen in the NBA that necessitates a special conversation.

Enjoy Mother’s Day Weekend with the important people in your life. See you next week!

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