NBA Finals Preview
by Joseph King | by Joseph King
Denver Nuggets: The Cream of the Crop
Denver has ultimately stood out as the most consistent team this season, finally breaking through to make their first NBA Finals appearance in franchise history. The Nuggets overcame the Timberwolves in round one, the highly-lauded Suns in the second round and the LA Lakers in a 4-0 sweep in the Conference Finals. They are led by arguably the best player in the game at the moment in two-time MVP Nikola Jokic. The 28-year-old Serbian center is playing out of his mind, proving many of his detractors wrong by leading his Nuggets team to the Finals in dominant fashion. A win here would give credence to the belief of many that Jokic should have won a third consecutive MVP award this season.
As we discussed in our Conference Finals Preview article, the main knock on Jokic has been his inability to lead his team to the promised land. He’s flipping that narrative on its head this season. Jokic is working with a healthy squad that has a strong claim to being the deepest, most well-balanced team in the NBA. Point guard Jamal Murray is a star and clearly thrives under the bright lights of the NBA Playoffs. Michael Porter Jr. provides an excellent third scoring option with his deadeye shooting (41% from three this season). Not to mention pieces such as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (42% from three) and Aaron Gordon (16.3 points per game on 56% shooting).
The bookmakers have Denver listed as heavy favorites to lift the Larry O’Brien trophy with odds of 1.25.
Miami Heat: Underdogs Yet Again
The Miami Heat have become only the second eighth-seed in NBA history to make the NBA Finals after the 1999 New York Knicks. While this is certainly an impressive feat, it’s important to remember that Miami isn’t what we would call a ‘true’ eight-seed. They finished last season with the best record in the East and made it to the Conference Finals in the playoffs, ultimately losing in seven games to the Celtics.
The Heat were able to get revenge this time around, defeating the Celtics in the Conference Finals for the second time in their three meetings over the past four seasons. However, they had to survive what would have been labeled as the biggest collapse in NBA history. After racing out to a 3-0 series lead, Boston would incredibly battle back to win the next three straight and tie things up at 3-3. The Heat were at risk of becoming the first ever team to blow a 3-0 series lead with Boston seemingly having all of the momentum heading into the final game. Miami was able to hold their nerve at the TD Garden in Boston and walk away with a 103-84 win in an arduous seven-game series.
Miami’s path to the Finals went through the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks, which they disposed of in five games, the New York Knicks in round two and the previously mentioned Celtics. Led by the stellar play of Eastern Conference Finals MVP Jimmy Butler, the hard-nosed Heat are in the Finals for the second time in the last four seasons. They are seeking their first championship since the LeBron James, Dwayne Wade led team of 2013.
The oddsmakers don’t have much faith in the Heat, listing them at betting odds of 4.30 to win the championship.
Game 1 Lookahead
Denver will be well-rested coming into Game 1 on June 1st. A sweep of the Lakers means that 10 days will have passed since the Western Conference champions last took to the hardwood. Meanwhile, the Miami Heat will be coming into the Finals opener off the back of a grueling seven-game series. There’s a decent chance that Miami comes into Game 1 physically and mentally drained after their exhausting war with Boston.
Team’s coming off a game seven do not fare well in the first game of the next series, posting a 33-53 record (38.4%) all-time. Backing the Nuggets to start the 2023 NBA Finals with a big win could be a profitable way to attack Game 1. The oddsmakers have Denver as -9 point favorites on the spread and 1.26 odds on the moneyline to win the first game of the series. You can follow the Game 1 action as well as the entire series by using our NBA Livescore tool!Claim your welcome bonus here!
Betting Odds and Predictions
To win the NBA Finals
- Denver Nuggets - 1.25
- Miami Heat - 4.30
Finals MVP winner
- Nikola Jokic - 1.28
- Jimmy Butler - 4.50
- Jamal Murray - 13.00
- Caleb Martin - 41.00
- Bam Adebayo - 51.00
The Heat are always a tough out but this Denver team is simply on another level. We expect Denver to win their first NBA championship and to do so with relative ease. We like the Nuggets on the -1.5 series spread at 1.74 odds, meaning they have to win the series at least 4-2 to cash the bet. In addition, we would also put a bet on the Nuggets -2.5 series price of 2.45, meaning they will have to win the NBA Finals by three games (at least a 4-1 series win). Another interesting bet to take a look at is Nikola Jokic to be the NBA Finals leading points scorer at odds of 2.25. Jokic is averaging 29.9 points per game on 54% shooting and 47% from three in this postseason run.