Wednesday, March 27, 2013 | 1:30 p.m.
A couple hours before kickoff of the most bet-on game in Las Vegas history, another contest ended unceremoniously above the United States border.
The Miami Heat, as a 4.5-point favorite, blazed past the Toronto Raptors in a 100-85 victory at the Air Canda Centre. No one imagined it would signal the start of something that gripped the betting and sports worlds alike as much as the Baltimore Ravens overcoming 25-to-1 odds at the start of the playoffs to win the Super Bowl.
The Heat, of course, have reeled off 26 more victories in a row since Super Bowl Sunday to record the second-longest winning streak in NBA history. Miami is six wins away from tying all-time mark of 33 straight owned by the 1971-1972 Los Angeles Lakers.
William Hill sports books have posted a proposition wager asking gamblers whether or not the Heat will break the record. The updated price is plus-300 (risking $1 to win $3) on the “yes” and minus-360 (risking $3.60 to win $1) on the “no”.
That denotes oddsmakers believe Miami has about a 25 percent chance to accomplish the feat. One of the Heat’s toughest remaining obstacles comes tonight in Chicago, where they are only favored by 5.5 points over the Bulls.
Read below for 10 more Vegas facts on the Heat’s current streak.
• If someone started with $100 and let the winnings ride to bet on the Heat in each of their next 26 games, according to R.J. Bell of Pregame.com, they’d now have $70,744. For the simple-math adverse, that means the odds against Miami’s streak is approximately 707-to-1.
• Before the streak began, the Heat were already favorites to win the NBA Championship at the LVH Superbook. But the oddsmakers at the world’s largest sports book have slashed their price in the 52 days since, as the Heat have gone from plus-175 to win the title to minus-130.
• Miami has only been marginally profitable against the spread during the historic run, going 16-11 versus the Vegas number. For the season, 10 teams have posted records better than Miami’s 37-33 against the spread. They are as follows: Oklahoma City Thunder (42-27-2), Washington Wizards (41-27-2), Denver Nuggets (43-29), Dallas Mavericks (42-29), Memphis Grizzlies (39-30-1), Indiana Pacers (39-32-2), San Antonio Spurs (37-31-1), New York Knicks (36-31-2), Houston Rockets (37-32-1) and Los Angeles Clippers (38-33).
• Pundits insist the Heat’s mixture of offensive and defensive efficiency have helped them peak. Miami’s performance against sports books’ over/under speaks to its balance. Thirteen games have gone over the total with 13 games also going under throughout the streak. One game, a 102-93 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers, landed exactly the total of 195 to push.
• Only seven times during the streak have oddsmakers favored the Heat by 5.5 points, the number on tonight’s Bulls game, or less. They’ve covered in every instance, by an attention-grabbing average of 11 points per game.
• The Bulls, however, have rewarded bettors backing them against the Heat in the last three years. Chicago is 8-6 straight-up and 7-6-1 against the spread against Miami since the formation of “The Big Three” before the start of the 2011 season. Maybe that’s part of the reason the moneyline on the Bulls tonight has dropped from +220 to as low as +180.
• Even if Miami escapes Chicago, the biggest threat to making history comes Sunday at San Antonio. One offshore sports book, according to covers.com, has set the Spurs as only a plus-140 underdog. That typically means the spread will land somewhere around minus-2.5 for the Heat.
• The good news is, none of the other 10 games left on Miami’s regular season schedule is expected to feature an underdog of less than plus-300. This includes a Friday trip to New Orleans, where the Hornets project at plus-650 to win the game.
• The longest winning streak against the spread during the current tear came from February 8 to February 23. Miami covered all seven of its games during that two-week stretch, clinching a winning record against the spread for the first time in 2013.
• Miami has twice lost three straight games against the spread in the middle of 27-game run, from February 24 through March 1 and from March 18 through March 22. The commonality? Miami played Cleveland during both lulls, narrowing the Cavaliers by four at home as 12.5-point favorites and beating them by three on the road as 11-point favorites. The Heat face LeBron James’ former team one more time this season on April 15. If the streak is still intact at that point, it will have reached 37 games.Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.