The Miami Heat are among the NBA’s most relevant betting plays. They are by no means as surefire a bet as they once were, when LeBron James was in town, but they have a pep in their offensive and defensive steps these days, and a roster that demands you take them seriously as title contenders. Don’t bother laying money down on championship futures, though. If nothing else, remember that much. The Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs are the standards for championship greatness until further notice. [+]

No team right now is equipped to beat them—not the Heat, not the Cleveland Cavaliers, not the Oklahoma City Thunder. So funneling funds into Miami’s championship chances would be a waste of money.

Conference futures are more friendly bets. The Cavaliers are still the Eastern Conference favorites, but they have never been more vulnerable.

The Heat have also played the Cavaliers really well since LeBron returned to Cleveland. There is a chance, however slight, they could upend the Cavaliers in a seven game series.

Take that “slight chance” under consideration when crafting your betting amount. You shouldn’t be investing a huge chunk of your sportsbook purse on a long shot.

But the Heat’s conference futures, in addition to their game by game activity, remains a solid direction for any bettor savvy enough to look for lucrative options outside Cleveland.

Who Do The Miami Heat Play Next

Scroll below to see the Heat’s next opponent. Upon seeing the moneylines, spreads, overs and unders, you’ll want to see how the Heat match up with their rival relative to those numbers. [+]

That’s the best way to spot irregularities and, by extension, sound betting plays ahead of tip off.

My Team's Next MatchMiami Heat

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Take a look at the Heat’s an entire schedule. This lets you plan your betting direction ahead of time, albeit without the luxury of knowing specific lines. More than that, you have an opportunity to look back at previous contests and accommodate the Heat’s results against their opponents in the recent past.

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The Heat’s standing in the Eastern Conference is fluid this season, and therefore super important. Stay on top of where they sit relative to their compeition, and keep an eye on the other teams around them as well. The more you know about their potential playoff seeding, the more you can prepare to bet for or against them once the postseason is underway.

StandingsMiami Heat

Remember That Betting on the Heat is a Fluid Process.

The Heat are not like other contenders anymore. Where you could once bank on them as great plays on futures or win totals, you must now take their betting stock season by season, sometimes week by week or game by game.

Miami's core is that suscpetible to change and age. We don't know if Whiteside will be back next season. We don't know how many years of elite basketball Dwyane Wade has left in his legs. Luol Deng could leave, too. Bosh's long term well being is clearly in question.

On top of that, the Heat, like so many other teams, will look to make a splash in free agency this summer, once the salary cap explodes. They will enter the running for Kevin Durant and other big names—potential upgrades that will have to come at the expense of part of the current nucleus.

If the Heat's ambitions completely backfire, they could end up as a projected lottery team. Goran Dragic, Bosh and Wade are the only locks to return.

Regardless, you'll want to keep your offseason Heat betting to a minimum. Even if they substantially improve the roster, don't toil with championship futures, conference chances or win totals. Delay your wagers until the middle of the season, when you'll have a better idea of what the Heat look like and what they're capable of doing.

How To Make Money Betting On Miami Heat

There is no reason to fear betting in favor of the Heat anymore for the rest of this season. Unless they're playing the Spurs or Warriors, you have the green light to bet in accordance with your feelings. That's how good the Heat are this side of the NBA's All-Star break.

Losing Chris Bosh for what feels like it will be the rest of the season once more should sting. And perhaps it does. But the Heat are actually playing better without him right now.

Head coach Erik Spoelstra is fielding spacier lineups with only one true big in the middle, usually Hassan Whiteside or Amar'e Stoudemire, and the Heat are playing faster.

This has made them a matchup nightmare for most opponents. So if you see them playing the Cavaliers, Thunder, Boston Celtics, Atlanta Hawks, Toronto Raptors, etc., and you think they can win or cover the spread, it's probably because they can.