Miami Heat vs Denver Nuggets Preview (6/1/23): Prediction, Starting Lineups, Odds

Here it is, the 2023 NBA Finals. After the Denver Nuggets swept the Lakers and the Heat nearly blew a 3-0 series lead to Boston but ultimately prevailed, we finally have our matchup to see which team is the best in the NBA.

Check out our Game 1 matchup preview below, featuring our betting picks and predictions as well as updated odds. Team-specific information like projected starting lineups and injury reports are also available below.

Miami Heat Vs. Denver Nuggets Betting Odds

The Miami Heat enter Game 1 of the NBA Finals as massive 8.5-point road dogs against the Denver Nuggets. Further, the point total rests at 219, as of Tuesday afternoon, for this matchup.

Miami will still miss Victor Oladipo and Tyler Herro for Game 1; however, Herro could be back for Game 3, which has officially been listed as a target game for his return.

Meanwhile, the Nuggets are healthy except for Collin Gillespie, who has missed the entire 2022-23 campaign and is not considered a rotational player for them.

Miami Heat Vs. Denver Nuggets Prediction

Game 1 of the NBA Finals is finally here, and now, the Miami Heat will head to the “Mile High City” to face off with the Denver Nuggets, a well-rested and healthy team looking to win their first NBA Finals.

A major talking point of the Eastern Conference Finals was Miami’s zone defense, which gave the Celtics an enormous amount of trouble throughout the series; Boston did not have a big man capable of catching the ball in the high post or middle and then making a correct read.

This put an enormous amount of pressure on Boston’s guards to knock down shots and penetrate the very quick-footed and quick-handed Heat guards at the top of the zone. You can read more about this breakdown and why Miami will struggle with playing zone against Denver from our very own Braxton Reynolds here.

Ultimately, Miami won’t be able to zone Denver, who is just as good of a three-point shooting team as Boston, but actually has a generationally talented playmaking center in Nikola Jokic. Jokic averaged 12 assists in the Nuggets’ last matchup against the Lakers and did so while being guarded by LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The Heat will have to play man-to-man defense in this series, and Denver has plenty of advantageous matchups offensively.

The Nuggets should emerge victorious in Game 1, but it will be close until the end; a nine-point spread is way too significant. Denver has been particularly impressive in the “clutch” this postseason, holding a 7-3 record and locking down defensively; however, the Nuggets’ margin of victory in their past four games has been just six points.

Additionally, Denver might be well-rested, but it still could take a few quarters for it to get back into playoff intensity. Having a week and a half off in the playoffs can be both a good and a bad thing. Further, Miami is 3-0 in Game 1s throughout the 2023 playoffs, winning by an average margin of nine points. Denver will squeak out a narrow home win in Game 1, but count on Miami to keep the deficit to single digits.

Betting Trends

  • Miami is 13-5 ATS in the 2023 playoffs.
  • Denver is 9-6 ATS in the 2023 playoffs.
  • Denver is 8-0 at home in the 2023 playoffs
  • Miami has an 0-4 “over” record in its past four games of the 2023 playoffs.

Key Matchups

The key matchup for Game 1 in the NBA Finals belongs to Nikola Jokic and Bam Adebayo, and this is likely going to be the case for most, if not all, of the series. Take a look below at our analysis of this matchup!

Nikola Jokic vs. Bam Adebayo

It has been three and a half months since the last time Nikola Jokic and Bam Adebayo faced off. Jokic finished with a 27/12/8 line, while Adebayo went for 19 points in 34 minutes of play. The major difference between the two was efficiency; Jokic finished shooting 12-14 from the field, which is an absurd 86%. Adebayo’s lack of size got exposed by the two-time MVP.

Jokic is going to have a field day in this series. If the “Joker” can put up averages of 28 points, 15 rebounds, and 12 assists on a 51/47/78 shooting split against Anthony Davis, arguably one of the greatest interior defenders of this generation, then there is little doubt he will do the same if not more, against a smaller Adebayo who is not nearly the rim protector that AD is. Advantage: Jokic.

Miami Heat Starting Lineup

PG: Gabe Vincent
SG: Max Strus
SF: Jimmy Butler
PF: Kevin Love
C: Bam Adebayo

Denver Nuggets Starting Lineups

PG: Jamal Murray
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Michael Porter Jr
PF: Aaron Gordon
C: Nikola Jokic

Key Injuries

Miami Heat Injuries: Victor Oladipo (Out), Tyler Herro (Out)

Denver Nuggets Injuries: Collin Gillespie (Out)

Drew is one of the NBA Lead Writers at, specializing in betting content such as game predictions and player props. With a deep knowledge of players and prospects, Drew has an extensive edge in covering everything NBA.

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