The Finals they said nobody wanted is nearly upon us. The Miami Heat will visit the Denver Nuggets in Game 1 Thursday night at 8:30 p.m. ET in the best-of-seven series opener.
Faced with the possibility of the two most marquee names in the NBA’s history in the Lakers and the Celtics battling it out for an unprecedented 18th world title, it’s understandable why so many had high hopes for a different showdown. The Heat/Nuggets series will not disappoint real basketball fans, however.
Bet on the Heat @ Nuggets Game 1
MIA +9 -110
DEN -9 -110
Here’s a closer look at both of these championship contenders along with some expert analysis of the betting trends to watch out for with Game 1 looming.
Heat vs. Nuggets ods
|Heat Moneyline Odds
|Celtics Moneyline Odds
|219 points (over -110, under -110)
|Thursday, June 1, 8:30 p.m. ET
Stream: NBA League Pass
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The Nuggets and Heat met twice during the regular season with the Nuggets prevailing both times in closely-contested games. On December 30, the Nuggets came from behind to win 124-119 led by Canadian Jamal Murray. In their only other meeting, Nikola Jokic starred as Denver won 112-108 in a game that Aaron Gordon, Murray, Kyle Lowry, Tyler Herro, and Victor Oladipo all missed.
The Nuggets have actually won their last six games against the Heat but those meetings were all in the regular season. This will be their first time meeting each other in the postseason.
|Feb. 13, 2023
|Dec. 30, 2022
About the Heat (12-6 SU, 13-5 ATS, 9-7-2 o/u)
The Heat enter this series as the little engine that could amidst one of the biggest underdog stories in recent memory. They are only the second No. 8 seed to ever make it to the NBA Finals. The only other time it was done was in a lockout-shortened season almost 25 years ago.
Miami is led by All-Stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, along with a mostly unheralded supporting cast made up of seven undrafted role players. If the Heat hadn’t done this three seasons ago and made it to the Conference Finals just last year, people would be wondering how they got here. The Heat simply never left. Since Erik Spoelstra took over in 2008 after already spending 14 years with the franchise, the Heat have been to six Finals and won two titles.
Their latest iteration is led by Butler and Adebay, but role players like Caleb Martin and Gabe Vincent, averaging 14.1 and 13.1 points per game, respectively, in these playoffs, are behind the Heat’s shocking rampage through the playofs. They may have a tall order against Denver but one thing they have proven is that you cannot count them out.
About the Nuggets (12-3 SU, 9-6 ATS, 8-7 o/u)
The Nuggets are coming into the series as the hottest team in the NBA after having swept the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals way back on May 22. They’ve just been resting, relaxing, and wondering who their opponent out of the East would be. Denver has won 12 of its last 15 games in these playoffs, so it’s safe to say the Nuggets will be pretty confident.
The Nuggets have six players averaging double figures in points this postseason, but they are paced by their two best: Jokic (29.9 ppg) and Murray (27.7 ppg). Jokic, of course, needs no introduction, as the two-time MVP was headed for a third consecutive trophy before missing some games and having some subpar performances late in the year.
His playoff performance this season has been an all-timer. The arguably best player in the NBA has been averaging 29.9 points per game, 13.3 rebounds per game, and 11.3 assists per game. But like the Heat, it’s been the Nuggets’ role players that have really placed them head and shoulders above the rest. When they follow the lead of their stars and start draining shots, Denver is nearly unbeatable.
Heat guard Tyler Herro (hand) is expected to miss Game 1 and is targeting a return for Game 3.
- The Heat are 6-2 ATS in their last eight road games.
- Miami has hit the over in 10 of its last 13 games on the road.
- Denver is 5-3 ATS at home in this postseason, 2-1 ATS in Game 1’s.
- The Nuggets are 6-0 ATS versus the Heat in their past six meetings.
- The over has hit in five of their past six head-to-head matchups.
Player prop trends
- If the vaunted Celtics defence couldn’t frustrate Butler, the Nuggets shouldn’t fare better. Butler averaged 24.7 ppg, 7.5 rpg, and 6.1 apg against Boston and should see those numbers slightly improve, even though he’ll be facing a strong defender in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Bet365 currently has Butler’s over at 40.5 (-115) for points + assists + rebounds. He’s cleared that mark in three of his last four games.
- Martin has been heating up, totalling 47 points and 25 rebounds over his last two games while shooting 18-for-29 from the field and 8-for-14 from downtown. He’s a good candidate for a lesser-known Heat player to play well. His current over on threes made is 2.5 (+125) at bet365. He’s drained four long-range bombs in each of his last two games.
- On the Nuggets side of things, look for Michael Porter Jr. to step up. The sweet-shooting forward averaged 15 points and 3.5 threes per game against the Lakers and he totalled at least 10 rebounds in three of their four games. His over on rebounds is 7.5 (+115) at bet365 currently.
Wagers to consider
- The Nuggets are currently nine-point favourites (-110) with the over/under at 219 points (-110). The Heat have moneyline odds of +300 at bet365. The Heat have not been winning with suffocating defence and wearing teams down in low-scoring games. Ten of their last 13 games on the road have hit the over, and if the Heat are effective from long distance, they can put a lot of points on the board. The Nuggets can also put up points with ease, so the over is a strong play here.
- Sometimes you have to dig a little to find the right wager with the best odds. With that in mind, Jokic to make three or more three-pointers (+500) is oddly enticing. He hit that mark twice against the Lakers in the previous round.