For months, the Miami Heat were seen as frontrunners to land Damian Lillard from the Portland Trail Blazers.
Sportsbooks also seemed to think so, pegging them near the top of their 2024 NBA Championship odds boards in anticipation of a deal between the two teams.
But now, after losing out to the Milwaukee Bucks for the superstar point guard, the Heat are in trouble.
After opening the day Wednesday at +1000 on BetMGM to win next year’s NBA championship, the Heat dropped to +3000 after the Bucks swooped in with the shocking blockbuster trade.
The move plummeted Miami from the fifth-best odds at the title to tied with the Memphis Grizzlies for the 11th-best odds.
The Heat appeared to shape most of their offseason on their pursuit of Lillard, letting key playoff contributors Gabe Vincent and Max Strus walk away in free agency.
Miami is now stuck with a Lillard-sized hole in its aging roster and competing with four Eastern Conference teams (Bucks, Celtics, 76ers and Cavaliers) with better chances at a title.
Although help may be on the way.
The Bucks shipped veteran guard and two-time All-Star Jrue Holiday to Portland in exchange for Lillard.
Almost immediately, buzz got out that the rebuilding Blazers were looking to flip Holiday, with the Heat and 76ers emerging as the favorites to land him, which would almost assuredly boost the title odds of both of those teams.
And don’t forget, you can’t ever count out the Heat, who have had multiple Cinderella runs to the NBA Finals in recent years.
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Before the 2020 season, Miami was +6000, per Basketball Reference, to win the title, falling just a couple of games short of pulling off the miracle.
Last season, they were +1600 (BetMGM) preseason before falling to the Nuggets in five games in the Finals.