- Heat vs. Nuggets spread: Nuggets -9
- Heat vs. Nuggets over/under: 219 points
- Heat vs. Nuggets Moneyline: Nuggets -400, Heat +310
Well, the NBA Finals are set. While a Nuggets vs. Heat matchup isn’t as exciting as the Lakers taking on the Celtics, it’s enough to get the blood flowing. Let’s look at some key stats and storylines going into game one on Thursday night.
Key Stats Denver:
- This will be Denver’s first NBA Finals appearance.
- Nikola Jokić has been ridiculous this postseason. He is practically averaging a 30-point triple-double in 15 playoff games — 29.9 points, 13.3 rebounds, 10.3 assists — on shooting splits of 54% from the field, 47% from 3-point range, and 78% from the free-throw line.
- Jamal Murray is coming off a series against the Lakers in which he averaged 32.5 points with shooting splits of 52.7% from the field and 40.5% from deep.
- Jokić cooks Bam Adebayo and has for the last several years. The Nuggets have won six straight games vs. the Heat, and over the previous two years (four matchups), Jokic is averaging 23.8 points (68.4 FG%, 60 3P%), 13.5 rebounds, and 9.3 assists per game and shooting 17-27 (63%) when defended by Adebayo.
- Nikola Jokić is the favorite to win the NBA Finals MVP at -300. Jimmy Butler is +350, barely longer odds than the Heat winning. Jamal Murray is next at +1200.
Key Stats Miami:
- Miami is just the second #8 seed ever to reach the NBA Finals.
- Jimmy Butler’s averages in the conference finals — 24.7 points on 40.2% shooting, 7.6 rebounds, 6.1 assists — were strong overall, but he faltered at times, and judging by his shooting clip, he may be exhausted from leading this run. The Nuggets haven’t played a game in nine days. Fresh legs are always an advantage, especially come June.
Moneyline Betting Trends:
- Denver has been chosen as the favorite in 61 games this year and has walked away with the win 43 times (70.5%) in those games.
- This year, Denver has won 15 of 21 games when listed as at least -378 or better on the Moneyline.
- The Moneyline set for this matchup implies Denver has a 79.1% chance of coming away with a victory in the contest.
- Miami has been the Moneyline underdog 24 total times this season. Miami has gone 8-16 in those games.
Spread Betting Trends:
- The Nuggets average six more points per game (115.8) than the Heat give up (109.8).
- Denver has a 38-21-2 record against the spread and a 48-13 record overall when putting up more than 109.8 points.
- Miami has a 25-33-3 record against the spread and a 38-23 record overall when giving up fewer than 115.8 points.
- The Heat put up only three fewer points per game (109.5) than the Nuggets give up to opponents (112.5).
- When it scores more than 112.5 points, Miami is 15-14-1 against the spread and 22-8 overall.
Both teams have gotten outstanding contributions from their role players. Caleb Martin, Max Strus, Gabe Vincent, and Kevin Love have given the Heat unexpected production throughout the postseason. This has been great against teams as star-focused as the Bucks or Knicks, but it won’t hold up against Denver. The Nuggets are just as deep, if not deeper. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Bruce Brown, Michael Porter Jr., and Aaron Gordon would all have much more significant roles on almost any other team in the NBA.
Considering the role players cancel each other out, we must look at star power. Jimmy Butler shot 40.2% in the Eastern Conference Finals. He’s clearly tired from leading the Heat offensively when he’s needed for this playoff run. The Nuggets have had nine days to rest coming into this series. Nikola Jokić is almost averaging a triple-double when guarded by Bam Adebayo, and that’s Adebayo with a regular-season amount of rest. After a competitive seven-game series against a stubborn Celtics team, I can only imagine what he’ll do against Adebayo. With Jokić and Jamal Murray having fresh legs, there’s no way Miami wins game one on the road. Vegas likes the Nuggets -9, and they will win by double digits.
Nuggets’ spread. Denver has a 38-21-2 record against the spread when putting up more than 109.8 points. The Heat are gassed out after playing seven games against the Celtics. Jokić will score at will, and the Nuggets will win by more than nine.
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