May 12, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker (9) looks on during the third quarter in game four of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Spurs 97-87 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

2013-14 NBA Preview: Setting Odds for Title Contenders

For 82 games, there is a race for the top seeds in each conference. But at the end of the day, once you make the playoffs, you have a chance to win. Realistically, though, some teams have a much greater chance of taking home the title than others. Here are our early odds for the 2013-14 NBA championship.

Miami Heat: 6-4

Jun 24, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat power forward Chris Andersen (11) reacts during the 2013 NBA championship rally at the American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Remember the infamous LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh press conference where James uttered the phrase “not three, not four, not five, not six?” Well, after three NBA finals appearances and two NBA titles in South Beach, LeBron and the Heat appear to again be the favorites to win the NBA title next season. With the recent re-signing of Chris “Birdman” Andersen and additional veterans possibly on the way, the Heat should be on the championship level again.

Oklahoma City Thunder: 7-1

Even with the departure of Kevin Martin to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Thunder should be poised for a title push led by one of the NBA’s best players in Kevin Durant. Point guard Russell Westbrook should return from his knee injury at the start of next season, and ideally, the progression of Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones, along with Durant, Serge Ibaka and Westbrook, is enough to win a title.

Houston Rockets: 10-1

Sporting a possible group of Dwight Howard, James Harden, Chandler Parsons, Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin, the Rockets could be potential title contenders.

Howard mans the paint defensively better than any other bigman in the league. Asik is a rebounding monster. Both Parsons and Harden are only getting better with Harden joining the elite class of players. And Lin and Patrick Beverly manning the point guard position, setting the offense up will ensure another successful season of coach Kevin McHale’s run-and-gun system.

Houston could be just another version of the 2012-13 Los Angeles Lakers, but they have a very high chance of getting out of the incredibly strong Western Conference.

Chicago Bulls: 15-1

May 8, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose stretches before game two of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Even without Derrick Rose all season, Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng in the postseason and a banged up Joakim Noah down the stretch, the Bulls still lost in the second round of the postseason. With Rose back at full strength in 2013-14, the Bulls seem poised to return to their 2011-12 regular season form, when they had the best record in the Eastern Conference.

 Indiana Pacers: 17-1

The Pacers took the Heat to seven games in the Conference Finals with absolutely no bench production and no Danny Granger. With the return of Granger immanent and the signing of Chris Copeland hopefully adding some bench production, the Pacers look poised to knock off the Heat and claim the NBA’s crown.

Golden State Warriors: 20-1

The signing of Andre Iguodala makes the Dubs even more dangerous for the 2013-14 campaign. Iguodala, along with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, creates a lethal backup capable of both locking down their opponents, but also lighting them up on the other end of the floor.

Golden State’s surprising playoff run, along with the signing of Iguodala, sets the bar even higher in the Bay Area and the taste of a championship even more desirable.

Brooklyn Nets: 20-1

Focused on winning a championship, owner Mikhail Prokhorov went all out, trading for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Though both are at the end of their NBA careers, both are still talented players, and if handled correctly by first year coach and recent player retiree, Jason Kidd, they should only help make Brooklyn a legitimate title contender.

San Antonio Spurs: 25-1

The Spurs are done. They’re too old. They’re going to run out of gas.

Don’t we hear this every offseason? And then the very next year they surprise us and continue to challenge the league’s best? Well, next year, the Spurs will be a little bit older, but who can count them out after their incredible postseason run, culminating in a Game 7 loss to the Miami Heat?

Gregg Popovich is still there, so is Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. Nothing should be different in San Antonio.

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Tags: Brooklyn Nets Chicago Bulls Golden State Warriors Houston Rockets Indiana Pacers Miami Heat Oklahoma City Thunder San Antonio Spurs

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