Jeff's 2023 NBA Finals Betting Preview
Miami Heat vs. Denver Nuggets
Ladies and gentlemen, it's time for the much-awaited Denver Nuggets vs. Miami Heat NBA Finals of 2023! Both teams have put up a fierce fight throughout the playoffs, leaving no stone unturned to make it to this very moment. On one hand, we have the Nuggets, led by their dynamic duo of Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic. They have proved their mettle time and again and are in no mood to let go of their spot as one of the best teams in the league. On the other hand, we have the Miami Heat, who have bounced back from their disappointing run last season with renewed energy.
Both teams have enjoyed relatively easy trips to the Finals. The Nuggets had to navigate a difficult Western Conference, beating the likes of the Minnesota T-Wolves in just five games, the Phoenix Suns in six games, and sweeping the LA Lakers to earn their spot. The Heat, meanwhile, had to overcome injuries to key players throughout the season and a tough Eastern Conference, knocking off the Chicago Bulls in a must-win after losing their first play-in game against Atlanta. From there, the Heat defeated the Milwaukee Bucks in just five games, the New York Knicks in six games and No. 1 seeded Boston Celtics in an epic 7-game dogfight. Speaking of dogs, Miami was the underdog in all three series, so this is familiar territory for the underdog Miami Heat.
The Heat have an incredibly versatile roster (injuries notwithstanding), with players like Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo who can wreak havoc on any given night. Both teams have their work cut out for them. The Nuggets have an explosive offense that can take on anyone, while the Heat have a formidable defense that can shut down even the best of teams. It's anyone's game, and both teams are hungry for the title. The Denver Nuggets will be making their NBA Finals debut in franchise history, while the Miami Heat have won three Championships (2006, 2012, & 2013).
The Denver Nuggets are led by superstar center Nikola Jokic, who is widely considered one of the best players in the league. Jokic's incredible passing ability and shooting touch make him a matchup nightmare for any opposing team. Surrounding Jokic are a number of talented players, including Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr., and Aaron Gordon. The Nuggets have an explosive offense that is capable of putting up points in a hurry, making them a difficult team to defend. This squad is young, hungry, and on a mission. Denver was ranked No. 3 in point differential (+4.1), increasing to +10.1 at home which is tied with Memphis for No. 1 this season.
The Miami Heat, on the other hand, are known for their tough defense and gritty play. Led by veteran guard Jimmy Butler, the Heat have a physical, hard-nosed style of play that can wear down opponents over the course of a game. Alongside Butler are a number of hard-nose players, including Bam Adebayo, Duncan Robinson and Max Strus. The Heat could really use Tyler Herro, who still hasn't been medically cleared to resume basketball activities. However, he remains in-play if this series goes deep as June 5th would mark the sixth week of his estimated return. The Heat have an efficient offense that relies on ball movement and taking advantage of mismatches. Miami has an elite head coach in Erik Spoelstra, and the players run his system to perfection. Miami is ranked No. 16 (+0.6) in point differential and that number improves at home to +2.7. It's interesting to note that both teams have a negative point differential on the road.
This series is likely to be a long one, with both teams having strengths that can be exploited. If the Nuggets can continue to rely on Jokic and their high-scoring offense, they will have a good chance of coming out on top. They have a huge home-court advantage at high-altitude. But if the Heat can impose their physicality and defense, they could frustrate Denver and come out on top. Either way, fans are in for a treat as two talented teams battle it out for the championship. The Nuggets went 2-0 against Miami in the regular season. These were close games decided by 4 and 5 points respectively. Miami played short-handed in a four-point loss in February. Miami will be playing with a similar roster for at least the first two games in Denver.
Miami's tough defense will have to find a way to shut down the Nuggets' scoring attack. Denver is filled with offensive weapons, with Jokic being the primary focus of their attack. He averaged 29.9 points per game during the playoffs and has been a triple-double machine. Miami's older roster could be a major factor in this series. Only the Bucks and Clippers have an average age higher than the Heat on their roster. Additionally, the Nuggets have Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr., and Aaron Gordon, who are all more than capable of pouring in points when needed. Bruce Brown Jr. has been a major uplift as well. Miami's experience and solid coaching may give them a slight edge if they were completely healthy, but the Nuggets' scoring potential and determination cannot be underestimated. I like the Denver Nuggets to win the series as the matchups and home-court advantage will be too much for the Heat to overcome.
My Selection to win Series: Denver Nuggets (-340)