Orlando center Dwight Howard reacts after missing critical free throws… (Gary W. Green / Orlando Sentinel )
Despite Dwight Howard joining the Lakers., Vegas odds-makers believe there's a Kryptonite that Superman can't stop.
The Miami Heat.
The Lakers' odds have increased substantially from 7-1 to 3-1 to win the NBA championships, according to RJ Bell of Pregame.com. But that's not enough in the eyes of sports bookies for the Lakers to take their talents to South Beach and leave with the Larry O'Brien trophy. Miami still remains the favorite with 2-1 odds.
PHOTOS: Dwight Howard's Magic days
"You have the defending champion that is expected to be better with Ray Allen," Bell told The Times in a phone interview. "These two teams play in the Finals, LeBron James is still the best player on the court."
Before Laker fans cry foul for Vegas odds-makers roiled L.A.'s perfectly sunny skies with a thunderstorm, consider what the odds actually mean. A bookmaker's role entails predicting how the public will bet their money, rather than actually assessing whether that prediction will pan out. In fairness, Bell believed the discrepancy between Miami and the Lakers winning the title amounted nothing more than a "modest difference."
At least compared to what the they encountered before, the Lakers still made a huge jump in Vegas. The Lakers' 3-1 odds pit them as the favorite to win the Western Conference over the Oklahoma City Thunder (4-1) and San Antonio Spurs (12-1). Even when the Lakers acquired Steve Nash, several odds-makers still considered the Thunder the favorite to win the Western Conference.
PHOTOS: Dwight Howard's Magic media days
Bell said the difference can be traced back to the public perceiving a fundamental difference between Andrew Bynum and Howard.
"I was told by numerous sportsbook managers that if it was just about talent, that Howard would only be a modest improvement over Bynum," Bell said. "When you add in Bynum's injuries, his motivation, how the Lakers are expecting Howard to integrate in the offense and Pau Gasol is back in the post, it's a drastic change."
It may not be enough to unseat the defending champions. But that's unlikely to prevent Lakers fans from freeing up their work schedule so they can attend the championship parade in June. They can only hope it's on Figueroa Street and not in South Beach.
Lakers become championship favorites by acquiring Dwight Howard
Lakers shouldn't trade Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol for Dwight Howard
More worrisome: Dwight Howard's back or Andrew Bynum's knee?
E-mail the Lakers blog at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow the Lakers blog on Twitter.