Game 1 – Heat vs. Nuggets Picks, Predictions, Odds

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The NBA Playoffs continue to barrel full steam ahead towards the finish line on Thursday night with Game 1 of the NBA FInals between the Miami Heat and Denver Nuggets. Coverage begins from Ball Arena in Denver at 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC.

The Heat are 0-6 ATS in their last six matchups against Denver. (Getty)

MIAMI HEAT vs. BOSTON CELTICS BETTING PREDICTION

Not too long ago, the Heat looked like they desperately needed to get back to the drawing board and start prepping for next season, as let’s not forget, Miami finished 7th in the conference before dropping its first matchup of the Play-In Tournament against Atlanta, and then they nearly lost to Chicago in the win-or-go-home game that followed.

But since the fourth quarter of their second matchup of the Play-In Tournament, the Heat have looked like a completely different team, highlighted by Miami ranking 1st in three-point percentage 3rd in offensive rating since the opening round of the playoffs, while continuing to maintain an elite level of defensive play.

The Heat posted crippling numbers at the offensive end of the floor during the regular season, ranked just 25th in offensive rating and 27th in three-point percentage  – and struggles on such an extreme level are more than capable of derailing an entire operation.

However, on a more positive note, Miami’s dominance on the defensive side of the script still paved the way for the Heat to finish with a winning record and reach the Play-In Tournament. So, in theory, we always knew how dangerous this Miami’ team could potentially become if they managed to turn things around on offense, but bettors simply didn’t believe they would right the ship on such short notice.

While on the other hand, Denver was also the victim of a considerable amount of doubt prior to this series, as the Nuggets were tagged as +120 underdogs against No. 4 Phoenix in the second round, and then tagged as relatively slim -150 favorites against the No. 7 Los Angeles in the conference finals round.

The Nuggets have silenced their doubters at every turn, though, highlighted by Denver cruising to series wins over the Lakers and Timberwolves in five games or less, and in their most competitive bout of the playoffs thus far, it only took them six games to knock off the Suns in a series that they were originally underdogs in.

So, are the Nuggets actually way better than everybody thought they would be and simply flew under the radar all this time? Or was the oddsmakers’ initial assessment of this team accurate? Let’s not forget, Denver entered the postseason with the sixth best odds to win the title, despite earning the No. 1 seed in the West.

The answer seems to be, a little bit of both. To give Denver some credit, the Nuggets have posted an impressive record of 12-3 since the start of the playoffs, while ranking 1st in net rating in those contests; however, that certainly isn’t because they’ve been playing lockdown defense, highlighted by Denver ranking 8th in defensive rating among the 16 qualifying playoff teams this postseason.

Take nothing away from this Denver’ team. The Nuggets worked hard to earn the No. 1 seed all year, and in the grand scheme of things, they beat the opponent standing in front of them in each series rather quickly, which is all you can ask of them.

But let’s not pretend that Denver is on some type of magical run, though. The Nuggets took care of business against the No. 8 Timberwolves and the No. 7 Lakers with relative ease, as expected, and they beat the No. 4 Suns in six games, a very talented team, but still a team trying to gain traction after getting completely reassembled at the trade deadline.

Whereas, the Heat are far more battle-tested at this point. Prior to the first round of the playoffs, the Bucks were favored to win the title at +240, and the Celtics had the second-best odds on the board at +370. 

But now that Miami has won series against both of the Top 2 title favorites fair and square, the Heat still stare down the barrel of a huge underdog tag against Denver, a team that the oddsmakers refused to buy into all postseason. Doesn’t make much sense to me. Take the points with Miami in Game 1.

Score Prediction: Nuggets 114, Heat 110
Best Bet: Heat +8.5 (-110)

MIA @ DEN Odds

MIAMI HEAT vs. DENVER NUGGETS BETTING RESOURCES

Date: Thursday, June 1, 2023
Venue: Ball Arena
Location: Denver, Colorado
TV-Time: ABC, 8:30 p.m. ET
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MIAMI HEAT vs. DENVER NUGGETS BETTING STATS

Miami Heat
SU: 57-45
ATS: 45-55
O/U: 52-48
PPG: 109.5
OPPG: 109.8

Denver Nuggets
SU: 65-32
ATS: 54-43
O/U: 46-51
PPG: 115.8
OPPG: 112.5

Straight Up (SU), Against the Spread (ATS), Over-Under (O/U)
Points Per Game (PPG), Opponents Points Per Game (OPPG)

The Nuggets are 10-0 SU in their last 10 home games. (Getty)

MIAMI HEAT vs. DENVER NUGGETS BETTING TRENDS

  • The Heat are 12-4 ATS in their last 16 games.
  • The total has gone UNDER in four of Miami's last five games.
  • The Heat are 11-5 SU in their last 16 games.
  • The Nuggets are 4-2 ATS in their last six games.
  • The total has gone UNDER in four of Denver's last six games.
  • The Nuggets are 6-0 SU in their last six games.
  • The Nuggets are 10-0 SU in their last 10 home games.
  • The Heat are 0-6 ATS in their last six games against Denver.
  • The Heat are 0-6 SU in their last six games against Denver.
  • The total has gone OVER in 10 of Miami's last 13 road games.
  • The Heat are 1-6 SU in their last seven road games against Denver.
  • The total has gone OVER in five straight matchups between Denver and Miami.