- The Denver Nuggets are hefty 8.5-point favorites in Game 1 of the NBA Finals vs the Miami Heat
- Miami just finished a gruelling 7-game series vs Boston, while Denver has been off for nine days
- Don’t miss the latest Heat vs Nuggets Game 1 odds, analysis and our betting prediction
Is it more of a benefit to get rest or to keep on playing?
The theory is going to be tested in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
The visiting Miami Heat will have had just 48 hours to regroup after dispatching the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals Monday night, going the full 7-games.
As for the Denver Nuggets, they haven’t had a competitive game since May 22, when they swept the Los Angeles Lakers to win the West.
Game 1 of the Finals gets underway Thursday (June 1) at 8:30pm ET from Ball Arena in Denver, CO. The series will be broadcast exclusively on ABC.
Heat vs Nuggets Game 1 Odds
|Miami Heat||+8.5 (-117)||+275||Ov 219 (-117)|
|Denver Nuggets||-8.5 (-117)||-429||Un 219 (-117)|
The books are backing the home side, pegging the Nuggets as hefty 8.5-point favorites, and -429 on the moneyline, an implied win probability of 81.10% in the NBA betting odds.
Game 1 also features a total of 219 points.
Denver has been lights out at Ball Arena, going 8-0 across three series in the postseason. Miami is far from a road slouch. They won three times in Boston, and have at least one road win in every series these playoffs.
Odds as of May 31st at Caesars Sportsbook. Claim a Caesars promo code to bet on Heat vs Nuggets Game 1.
Can Miami Role Players Still Shine?
We know for Game 1 that Tyler Herro (hand) is a no-go, leaving the Heat to rely on standout play from their role players, who’ve yet to disappoint.
Sure, Jimmy Butler was the Eastern Conference Finals MVP, averaging 24.7 points, 7.6 rebounds and 6.1 assists, but that trophy could have easily gone to Caleb Martin.
A castoff of the Charlotte Hornets in 2021 and a non-factor for the Heat last year and much of this season, Martin lit the Celtics on fire, culminating in a 26-point, 10-rebound 3-assist gem in Game 7. He averaged 19.3 points and 6.4 rebounds in the series, shooting a blistering 60.2% from the field and 48.9% from distance.
Caleb Martin SHINES as the @MiamiHEAT win Game 7 on the road!
— NBA (@NBA) May 30, 2023
Gabe Vincent scored in double digits in six of seven games against the Celtics, averaging 15.8 points on 48.5% shooting from the field and 51.6% from three-point range.
Those two, plus a rotation that includes Max Strus, Duncan Robinson and veteran title-winners Kyle Lowry and Kevin Love will have to find a way to make an impact, and keep making shots. Miami is second in playoff 3-point shooting, just a tenth off of the top-ranked Nuggets.
That’s because Bam Adebayo will have his hands full trying to contain Nikola Jokic. Overall, Miami will hope to carry their defense against Boston to the Finals, where they held the C’s to 105.3 points per game.
Nuggets Have Dominated at Home
Perhaps the altitude has something to do with it, but Denver has done a number on their playoff competition at home.
Their point differential at Ball is +12, and they’ve had just one game end in a 1-possession score, way back in Round 1, a 112-109 win vs the Timberwolves.
They were pushed in the West Finals, vs the Lakers, however, winning both games that went down to the wire by an average of 5.5 points.
It all revolves around Nikola Jokic, who may have lost out on his third consecutive MVP trophy, but is clearly the best player on the planet. He’s averaging 29.9 points, 13.3 rebounds and 10.3 assists per game on 53.8% shooting from the field and 47.4% from three-point range these playoffs.
A snapshot of Nikola Jokic’s unbelievable journey throughout these playoffs—for many, cementing himself as the best player in the world pic.twitter.com/XNjg1HhtlJ
— NBA University (@NBA_University) May 30, 2023
He’s been flanked by the standout play of Jamal Murray, who is averaging 27.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 6.1 assists on 48% shooting from the field and 39.8% from three.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who’s coming off a great series against the Lakers where he averaged 14.8 points on 44.4% shooting from three, will likely draw the assignment of Butler. He and Aaron Gordon will be tasked with trying to slow down the Heat star.
Michael Malone has kept his rotation tight all postseason, with only Bruce Brown, Christian Braun and Jeff Green getting significant minutes off the bench, but that might expand if they need more wing enforcements.
Heat vs Nuggets Prediction
While they’ve never went head-to-head on a stage like this, Denver has dominated this matchup, running a 25-9 record against the spread in the last 34 meetings.
More recently, the Heat are 1-5 ATS in their last six meetings in the Mile High City. Denver also went 14-7-1 ATS with a rest advantage over the opposition, which was the best mark in the NBA.
I’d caution betting a blowout though. The Heat crushed the books as monster ‘dogs vs the Celtics, including outright wins as 9, 8, and 7-point underdogs in Boston.
While Denver should take advantage of a team coming off a Game 7 high, Miami is built to compete.
The pick: Heat +8.5 (-117)
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