Are the Miami Heat the favorites to win the National Basketball Association (NBA) title in 2013? According to Bovada’s NBA futures odds, the Heat were installed as 11-to-4 favorites to repeat as world champs less than 24 hours following their 4-1 series win over the Oklahoma City Thunder during the 2012 NBA Finals.

Surely those odds increased in the Heat’s favor after acquiring future Hall of Fame shooting guard Ray Allen, who recently signed a three-year, $9.3 million deal with Miami after turning down a two-year, $12 million deal from the Boston Celtics that would have paid him twice as much over the next two years.

Allen’s decision to take his “talents to South Beach” makes it obvious that he doesn’t believe his former Boston Celtics can match up with the star-packed Heat. And as the old saying goes, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”

It’s not difficult to understand why Allen hopped on the Heat’s bandwagon. Reigning Finals MVP LeBron James completely dominated the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, and then went on to beat up on OKC in the Championship series, silencing all doubters who claimed he didn’t have what it takes to be a champion. Plus, James received a ton of help from his teammates, including 2006 NBA Finals MVP guard Dwyane Wade, and perennial all-star low-post man Chris Bosh, along with clutch play from solid role players like swingman Shane Battier, guards Mike Miller and Mario Chalmers and forward Udonis Haslem.

But I’m willing to make a bold prediction that Allen is wrong; Miami can be beaten next year, even as heavily favorites to win it all. And recent history supports my prophecy.

Just a month ago, Miami headed into the Finals not as favorites but as underdogs; it was 3-time scoring title holder Kevin Durant and the young and talented Thunder who were favored, 7/4, to win the championship. But a title-hungry Miami squad beat the odds.

Heading into the 2011 NBA Finals, Miami was favored, 2-to-1 to win it all. Instead, red-hot Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks overcame the odds to steal the title.

Two straight years of watching odds-beaters hoisting the championship trophy leads me to believe that it will probably be wiser to put my money on the underdogs whoever that may be in 2013.

The underdogs could be OKC returning to the Finals for a second straight year, led by two of the best young players in the league in Durant and guard Russell Westbrook.

Maybe even the Los Angeles Lakers could reach the Finals, led by five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant and recently acquired future Hall of Fame point guard Steve Nash. Rumors suggest that the Lakers are looking to add premiere big man Dwight Howard to legitimize their chances of completing for the 2013 title.

Whoever steps up to the championship stage next year will more than likely face Miami with the odds stacked high against them. But that will only make it that much sweeter when they shock the world with the next upset victory.

Just remember who told you first that it would happen. 

Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor