The Miami Heat (0-1) hope to rebound after being soundly beaten by the Denver Nuggets (1-0) in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Miami may receive reinforcements as Tyler Herro (20.1 PPG) is aiming to suit up, although it’s more likely he misses Game 2 and returns for Game 3. Can the Nuggets seize a commanding 2-0 series lead?
Check out below for Heat vs Nuggets predictions, odds, trends, and starting lineups.
Miami Heat vs. Denver Nuggets Prediction
Prediction: 1st Quarter Nuggets -2.5 (-118)
Denver dominated the first quarter during the regular season; they produced an 8 Net Rating. In other words, the Nuggets outscored opponents by 8 points per 100 possessions in the first quarter. That has spiked to a 13.3 Net Rating across the playoffs. Meanwhile, Miami produced a negative first quarter Net Rating during the regular season and playoffs. These teams open games far differently, and it showed in Game 1 as Denver won the quarter 29-20.
Denver’s dominance can be explained by the fact that their starting lineup plays the majority of first quarter minutes. The Murray-KCP-MPJ-Gordon-Jokic lineup outscored opponents by 13.3 points per 100 possessions during the regular season, and they achieved a 16.3 mark in Game 1. This lineup is completely optimized around Jokic to the point where the offensive production becomes borderline unstoppable. The Nuggets flexed this reality in Game 1 – the Heat couldn’t stop shooters from acquiring open looks or Gordon from playing bully ball. To me, it’s the best lineup in the NBA and should win their minutes with ease.
This game is also in Denver, which heavily favors the Nuggets. Due to the altitude, Denver’s players own a massive advantage since they are used to playing in these conditions. The Nuggets have played only one game in the last 13 days too, while the Heat have played five games across the same span. The Nuggets are well-rested, used to the altitude, and more comfortable shooting on their home-court. Along with the talent advantage, Denver is winning the outside factors advantage too.
Overall, look for Denver to come out strong again and convincingly win the first quarter. It would take an abnormal shooting stretch from either side to let Miami cover, which is assuredly possible. However, from a probability standpoint, the Nuggets should prevail.
Miami Heat vs. Denver Nuggets Betting Odds
The Nuggets are hefty eight and a half point favorites and own an ugly -360 moneyline. For Miami’s +300 moneyline to hold a positive expected value, they must win here at least 26% of the time.The over under is set at a measly 216 total points; the crawling pace is certainly a huge factor in this line. As for matchup history, Denver is 26-9 ATS in the last 35 meetings versus Miami.
- Nuggets are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 home games
- Heat are 0-4 ATS in the last 4 meetings in Denver
- Heat are 9-26 ATS in the last 35 meetings
- Over is 4-1 in the last 5 meetings in Denver
Which teams will win the game-determining matchups?
Denver’s starting lineup is an offensive monster with the defensive resources to slow down an unimpressive Miami offense. Foul trouble could alter Denver’s chances though if Coach Malone is forced to bench players early. If Jokic or Murray pick up two quick fouls, then the outlook is far murkier. However, I expect the disciplined Nuggets to avoid this potential disaster; they had the fourth fewest fouls per game during the regular season.
Heat 3PT Shooting
The easiest way to quickly cut deficits or extend leads is through a barrage of threes. Miami is a poor three-point shooting team, but they have the potential to rapidly get hot from deep. Caleb Martin, Max Strus, and Gabe Vincent are all capable of sinking difficult attempts. Adebayo and Butler can also find them through their court vision and passing. If Miami is going to cover, then it’s imperative they win the three-point battle. Strus absolutely cannot have an 0/9 3PT game again.
Miami Heat Starting Lineup
Denver Nuggets Starting Lineups
Miami Heat Injuries: Tyler Herro (Q), Victor Oladipo (O)
Denver Nuggets Injuries: Collin Gillespie (O)