The NBA Finals is officially set and will get underway between the Nuggets and the Heat. While there were some critics, the Nuggets dominated the West Playoffs, most recently sweeping the Lakers in the conference finals. On the other hand is the Heat, who have been upset-minded all playoffs, most recently downing the Celtics in a grueling seven-game series. Either the Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic or the Heat’s Jimmy Butler will get their first ring in what should be a compelling NBA Finals.
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Tipoff from Ball Arena is at 8:30 p.m. ET. Denver is a 9-point favorite in the latest Heat vs. Nuggets odds from Caesars Sportsbook, while the over/under for total points scored is 218.5. Before making any Nuggets vs. Heat picks, make sure you check out what proven SportsLine NBA expert Matthew Severance has to say.
Matt Severance is a well-connected writer and handicapper who has worked in the industry since 2005. After joining SportsLine, Matt quickly established himself as a top expert in multiple sports. Over his past 162 NBA picks, he is 106-55-1 against the spread, returning $3,599 for $100 players.
Now, Severance has set his sights on Heat vs. Nuggets and just locked in his picks and NBA Finals predictions. You can head to SportsLine now to see his picks. Here are several NBA betting lines and trends for Heat vs. Nuggets:
Why the Nuggets can cover
Guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope brings outstanding energy onto the floor for the Nuggets. Caldwell-Pope owns a knockdown perimeter jumper and has superb length to cause problems as a defender. The Georgia product logs 11.7 points, 1.3 steals, and makes 41% of his 3-point attempts in the playoffs. In Game 3 against the Lakers, Cadewell-Pope had 17 points and made four 3-pointers.
Guard Bruce Brown is an active presence off the bench. Brown is a savvy player who will find his way around the rim as a cutter and rebounder. The Miami product can also space the floor when needed and is averaging 12.2 points, 3.9 points, and 2.2 assists in the postseason. On May 20 against the Lakers, Brown notched 15 points, five boards, and five assists.
Why the Heat can cover
Center Bam Adebayo is a monster in the lane. Adebayo has terrific power and strength to push back defenders down low while constantly piling up boards. The Kentucky product is first on the team in rebounds (9.2) along with 16.8 points per game in the postseason. He’s recorded a double-double in consecutive matchups, including in Game 7 against the Celtics when he totaled 12 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists.
Guard Gabe Vincent is a sharpshooting playmaker in the backcourt. Vincent owns great court vision as a passer and can score off the dribble with ease. The UCSB product logs 13.1 points, 3.9 assists, and shoots 39% from downtown during the 2023 NBA playoffs.
This has been all Denver in Game 1, with the Nuggets holding a massive 21-point lead. It feels larger given Miami’s inability to hit any sort of shot. Jokic is one rebound away from a triple-double, while Murray, Porter Jr. and Gordon have combined for 52 points. Nuggets -8.5 is looking like a lock. The under on 219 is looking solid as well, especially if the Nuggets ease off with a big lead.
The Heat continue to struggle offensively, and Denver has now opened up a 19-point lead as the third quarter winds down. Jokic, Murray and Porter Jr. are all locked in, while the Heat can’t get much out of anyone other than Adebayo. Unless Miami is able to clean some things up defensively, this one is going to be a slow bleed the rest of the way.
It’s been all Jokic and the Nuggets in the third quarter after a quick spurt from Miami. Denver is back up by 16 points, with Jokic up to 14 points and 11 assists. Murray has 24 points, five rebounds and five assists. On the flip side, Strus hasn’t made a single triple in 10 attempts. The Heat have shot 5-21 from behind the arc. That’s not going to win you many games, and it certainly isn’t going to win you games against this Nuggets team.
The Heat had a quick 7-0 run going to start the second half but Murray made a key play on both sides of the ball to quickly put the Nuggets back up by double digits. The Heat have been unable to string together good offensive possessions consistently, and Butler has struggled to get going.
The Nuggets hold a 29-20 lead over the Heat at the end of the first quarter, so there’s been little rust despite having more than a week off. Miami has missed some easy shots, but has not done well defending Denver in the halfcourt. At the moment, Nuggets -8.5 is looking solid. The under on 219 is looking promising as well.
It’s 27-20 Nuggets with just under two minutes left in the first quarter. Gordon has been cooking with 12 points, and the Heat simply don’t have an answer for him in the paint. Nikola Jokic already has five assists but hasn’t taken a shot yet. Murray has eight points early. For the Heat, Butler has seven points and Bam Adebayo has come alive with eight points.
We’ve hit the first timeout of Game 1 and it’s been the Aaron Gordon show so far. He’s got eight points on 4-6 shooting as the Nuggets have jumped out to a 14-9 lead. Jimmy Butler leads the Heat with five points.
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