The Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat are battling in the NBA Finals and the Nuggets lead the best-of-seven series 2-1.
Denver had the best record in the Western Conference this season and was considered a title favorite heading into the playoffs. On the other hand, the Heat needed two play-in games to advance to the postseason as the No. 8 seed from the Eastern Conference. This is one of the reasons why the Nuggets have opened as huge betting favorites to win the series and the title.
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The Heat are seeking their fourth league title but first in 10 years. The Nuggets are seeking their first league championship in franchise history.
Who do you have hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy — Jimmy Butler and the Heat or Nikola Jokić and the Nuggets?
Let’s take a look at the upcoming series from a gambling perspective. Here’s everything you need to know about the series odds, Game 4 odds — the point spreads, moneylines, total Over/Under — betting results and an expert pick from FOX Sports Betting Analyst Jason McIntyre.
Nuggets at Heat, 8:30 p.m. ET Friday, ABC (Nuggets lead series 2-1)
Point spread: Nuggets -3.5 (Nuggets favored to win by more than 3.5 points; otherwise Heat cover)
Moneyline: Nuggets -162 favorites to win (bet $10 to win $16.17 total); Heat +115 underdogs to win (bet $10 to win $21.50 total)
Total scoring Over/Under: 210.5 points scored by both teams combined
Nuggets: -1000 (bet $10 to win $11 total)
Heat: +650 (bet $10 to win $75 total)
HEAD-TO-HEAD REGULAR SEASON
Dec. 30: at Nuggets 124, Heat 119
Feb. 13: Nuggets 112, at Heat 108
Schedule, scores for the series (all times 8:30 p.m. ET, TV ABC):
Game 1: Nuggets 104, Heat 93
Game 2: Heat 111, Nuggets 108
Game 3: Nuggets 109, Heat 94
Game 4: Nuggets at Heat, Friday
Game 5: Heat at Nuggets, Monday
Game 6: Nuggets at Heat, Thursday *
Game 7: Heat at Nuggets, June 18 *
* = if necessary
Per FOX Sports Research, the Nuggets (+500) are the second-heaviest betting favorite heading into the NBA Finals in the past 16 seasons, behind only the Golden State Warriors against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2017-18 Finals (-1075).
Pick by FOX Sports Betting Analyst Jason McIntyre:
The NBA Finals pits two fun teams to watch against one another. From the East are the No. 8-seed Miami Heat, a squad on a historic run. Out of the West comes a team that’s been the best in that conference since December but hasn’t gotten respect in the betting market until now. That team is, of course, the Denver Nuggets.
The Heat lost a play-in game at home to the Atlanta Hawks, then trailed Chicago late in the fourth quarter before rallying to advance. Nobody had them beating the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks, especially after losing their third-leading scorer, Tyler Herro, and his 20.1 points per game due to a broken right hand.
But the Heat, who were 27th in 3-point shooting during the regular season, have caught fire from deep. Heading into the Finals, they are one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the playoffs.
The Heat were beat up during the regular season. They missed the second-most games due to injuries and were +12500 to win the title when the playoffs started.
Jimmy Buckets is the man, but Caleb Martin, Gabe Vincent, Max Strus and Duncan Robinson have all caught fire from deep during this run.
It should be noted that Denver is not a great defensive team. While first in the playoffs in offensive efficiency, the Nuggets are only seventh in defense. They gave up 121 and 129 points in back-to-back games against the Suns.
There is a scenario where the Heat continues their torrid 3-point shooting, Butler has his way with Aaron Gordon and Erik Spoelstra cooks up some exotic defenses to slow down The Joker.
You can’t pick Miami in this series if you are committed to numbers and believe that the sun rises and sets with stats. As someone who fell victim to that when picking Boston against Miami, I vow not to let that happen again. Six Heat players are averaging double digits in the Boston series, including Martin and Robinson off the bench.
Could Miami somehow be better without Herro? Defensively, there are no weak links to hunt. I wonder how the Heat plan on defending Denver’s two-man game of Jokić and Jamal Murray. You could go with Bam Adebayo and Butler, but that will be extremely taxing on Butler to have to handle Jokić when he posts up.
Butler is an outstanding defender, but he can’t get in foul trouble as he is the fulcrum of the team’s offense. Will Spoelstra unleash the zone again? Well, the Nuggets will have nine days to prepare for it.
Denver, meanwhile, can toggle between Gordon, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and even Bruce Brown on Butler.
We’ll know a lot about this series after Game 1. The Heat have won six consecutive Game 1s, dating back to last season, and they won three in a row to get to the Finals in the bubble in 2020.
One other note to remember: Denver’s home-court advantage will be nullified with an extra day off between nearly every game in the series.
I ultimately keep coming up with the Nuggets to win it all the more I drill down into every angle. Never underestimate the heart of a champion, so look for Miami to give Denver all they can handle, but the Nuggets will prevail in the end.
You can bet on the Nuggets to win the series, but the juice is heavy. If you are looking for a wager with a nice return, take Denver to win in Game 7.
PICK: Nuggets (+350 at time of pick; currently +400, bet $10 to win $50 total) to win in seven games
PICK: Nuggets (-360 at time of pick, currently -1000, bet $10 to win $11 total) to win title
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