With a Game 7 win against the Boston Celtics on Monday night, the Miami Heat secured the final spot in the 2023 NBA Finals where they will take on the Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets come in as a -400 favorite to win the series outright, while the Miami Heat enter as a +320 underdog.
Heat vs Nuggets Series Predictions
Below are some predictions from the Lineups NBA crew for how the 2023 NBA Finals will play out along with corresponding odds for “exact series result” prop bets that match each prediction. Major sportsbooks such as DraftKings, Caesars, BetMGM, FanDuel and more are all offering odds for exact series outcomes ahead of Game 1 on Thursday night.
Patrick’s Series Best Bet: Nuggets in 4 (+450)
While the Nuggets -400 series moneyline price is a bit steep for a casual wager, there is some value on them to sweep the Heat at +450 odds via an “exact series result” prop.
Understandably, betting on the Nuggets to win in 4 requires one to bet heavily against the Heat — a proposition that has been largely unsuccessful this postseason.
That said, the Nuggets offense, and more specifically Nikola Jokic, pose some serious matchup problems for a Heat team that lacks size in the frontcourt. Jokic’s ability to post-up against Bam Adebayo will likely force the Heat to either send a double or give up an easy post bucket on most defensive possessions with Jokic on the court.
This was on display last series, when Jokic averaged 27.8 points, 14.8 rebounds, and 11.8 assists against the Lakers working primarily from the post. Moreover, Jokic’s primary defender in that series, Anthony Davis, is widely considered to be a better post defender than Bam Adebayo.
The mismatches the Nuggets are able to create on offense coupled with their surplus of versatile wings on defense spells trouble for the Heat. Tyler Herro is expected to come back, though his addition to the lineup may prove to be detrimental, at least in the short term, for a rotation that has built up so much continuity during this postseason run. While a sweep may be unlikely, the +450 odds are certainly enticing given everything the Nuggets have going for them in this series.
Author: Patrick Monnin
Noah’s Series Best Bet: Nuggets in 6 (+430)
The Denver Nuggets are rightfully the favorites to win the NBA Finals over the Miami Heat, but the Heat have shown in these playoffs that they’re not going to go down without a fight. The Nuggets have significant matchup advantages against the Heat and they should win the series, but it’s not going to be a clean sweep. The shortest odds for the “exact series result” is the Nuggets winning 4-1 at +200, but the best value is the Nuggets in six at +430.
A big part of Miami’s success in this postseason has been their red-hot three-point shooting. They have shot a league-high 39% from three in the playoffs, a dramatic improvement from their 34.4% mark in the regular season. It’s hard to count on that level of efficiency continuing, but it’s realistic to expect them to have at least one or two more hot shooting nights in them. The expected return of Tyler Herro at some point in the series will only help Miami offensively.
On the defensive side, the Nuggets are well-equipped to attack the Heat’s vaunted 2-3 zone. Nikola Jokic’s playmaking combined with the Nuggets’ deep rotation of quality outside shooters will pose significant problems for Miami’s most effective defensive scheme. But Erik Spoelstra is a brilliant coach, and it’s reasonable to expect he will find ways to show Denver some wrinkles defensively that give the Heat momentary advantages until the Nuggets can adjust.
The Heat’s shooting, toughness and defensive versatility should be enough for them to win a game or two in this series, but it won’t be enough to stop the Nuggets from winning their first-ever NBA Championship in six games. Jokic will hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy on the Heat’s home floor.
Kody’s Series Best Bet: Nuggets in 5 (+225)
I can’t get enough action down on the Nuggets series markets as this is their championship to lose. Jokic and company have played at a championship level throughout the course of the season and are in a good position to crack Miami’s defense. While my bigger position is on the Nuggets -1.5 series spread, I have also laid a wager on them to win in five.
Running undersized with Bam at center, the Heat will look to stretch out their defense by going into a 2-3 zone against the Nuggets perimeter shooting. This opens up the middle for the world’s best facilitating big man in Nikola Jokic to exploit, getting the option to either slash to the basket or punish a collapsing defense by hitting an open shooter in stride.
Another defensive issue for the Heat is they tend to drop in coverage off of pick and rolls sets. This allows Jokic to anchor down at the top of the perimeter with the ball in hand, having the likes of Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr rub off his screens and fill the gap when the Heat sag off. This allows Jokic to either attack with Bam on his hip, or hit his open teammate for a high quality look from deep.
Simply put, the Nuggets offense is well equipped to handle the Heat’s defensive pressure. They are also in a great position to start off on the right foot, getting a tired and battered down Heat squad fresh off a grueling seven game series against the Celtics.
With a gracious home court advantage, the Nuggets have a very good chance of starting the Finals up 2-0 on the Miami Heat. Banking on the Heat stealing one at home, I’ll take the Nuggets in five as the current betting favorite in the series exacta markets.
Author: Kody Malstrom
Jacob’s Series Best Bet: Nuggets in 5 (+225 BetMGM)
The bookmakers believe Nuggets in 5 is the most likely outcome for this series as it’s priced with the shortest odds, and I’m inclined to agree. Denver hosts the first two games of the Finals, where they are 8-0 in the postseason and have won by an average of 12 points per game.
The Nuggets have arguably the best home court advantage in the league right now. Aside from hosting some of the best fans in basketball, Denver’s Ball Arena resides one mile above sea level, giving it a massive built-in environmental edge. The Nuggets lean into it, making sure their opponents are constantly reminded of the altitude.
After the Heat step off the bus, they’ll see and hear “5280” often and be warned about “hypoxia with symptoms of fatigue, difficulty breathing, rapid heart rate, headaches and confusion.” Nuggets hope Miami will feel the altitude physically and mentallyhttps://t.co/4Bt69JoAwS pic.twitter.com/qlYCm7pZCX
— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) May 31, 2023
The Heat are the most mentally tough team in the league and won’t seem bothered, but mental toughness only goes so far when you’re gasping for air. Kevin Garnett, one of the all-time mental warriors in this sport, said on his show “KG Certified” that the environment gave him a “panic attack.”
Miami is on the heels of a grueling seven-game series that pushed them to the limit as they fought off the onslaught of a Boston team on the verge of making history. While the draining Eastern Conference Finals took place, the Nuggets have had a week and a half off to rest, recover, and prepare.
For some teams, that long layoff would present concerns of rustiness and lack of mental sharpness. I don’t have those concerns with Denver, the team whose playoff offense has executed better than any regular season team of all time.
The Heat have also sustained a handful of injuries over this playoff stretch that present concerns. Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo remain out while Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Kyle Lowry, Gabe Vincent, and Kevin Love are all seemingly dealing with injury issues.
You can read more about mismatches and advanced analytics in the writeups by some of my awesome colleagues, but I’m keeping this simple and looking at the tangible information we have. The Nuggets are the fresher, healthier, more talented team playing with an immense home court advantage.
It’s time for the best player in the world, Nikola Jokic, to have a championship. It’s time for the Denver Nuggets, an excellent franchise that has been through plenty of heartache over the years, to have its first title. The Nuggets get this done with swiftness.
Author: Jacob Wayne
Dan’s Series Best Bet: Nuggets in 6 (+400)
This is clearly the Nuggets’ series to lose, but doubting that the Heat can make it competitive is too shortsighted. Miami has looked completely undaunted on the road, unlike many teams the Nuggets have faced so far, and the Heat’s shooting is capable of getting scorching hot on any given night. Jimmy Butler and his team of undrafted sidekicks play with enough grit to potentially win a game in Denver in addition to Miami.
That’s all that needs to be said about the Heat, though. The Nuggets are still far and away the more talented and complete team.
The burning question is who will stop Nikola Jokic, and it’s not one that’s easily answered. It’s tough to ignore how much he’s abused Bam Adebayo in their matchups, and there’s no path to a Miami title if Adebayo doesn’t stop up in a big way.
Who will defend Aaron Gordon is another key question. The Heat don’t have terrific size, and Gordon’s presence could be a major problem if Miami is forced to focus heavily on Jokic.
While anyone can go cold at any time in this sport, Jamal Murray, Bruce Brown, and Michael Porter Jr. have been money in clutch moments throughout the playoffs and give the Nuggets a shooting arsenal that can keep up with what the Heat have. Erik Spoelstra also won’t have as much of a coaching advantage with the unheralded Michael Malone on the other end in this series.
Rust will be a concern for Denver early in the series, but rest will ultimately matter more for a team that relies on its starters to play heavy minutes.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Nuggets a bit thrown off by the Heat’s gritty, grind-it-out style of basketball in the early games of the series. Miami has been vulnerable enough at home, however, that the Nuggets would be in good position to close this out on the road if they go up 3-2.
Author: Dan Treacy
Jake’s Series Best Bet: Nuggets in 6 (+400)
The Denver Nuggets are the clear favorites in this series after only losing three games on their road to the finals. They are coming off a sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers and are looking to continue their dominant playoff run.
The Heat are the team that no one expected to get as far as they have. They’ve proved everyone wrong on their way to the NBA Finals as an 8th seed. They shocked the Milwaukee Bucks in five games and then were favored against the Knicks and then held on after blowing a 3-0 lead to the Celtics to win and advance to the Finals.
The Nuggets have an almost unstoppable duo in these playoffs in Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic. Jokic is going to be a massive matchup problem for the Heat because they don’t have a lot of size to throw at him to try and defend him. He’s going to be the difference-maker, but don’t count out Murray, especially after how well he played against the Lakers last series.
The Heat are much smaller than Denver, but are the better shooting team. The Heat are capable of getting hot in any game from outside the arc. They also have Jimmy Butler, who’s been the best player in the playoffs next to Jokic. He’ll be tasked with guarding Murray some of the time, while Bam Adebayo gets the assignment with Jokic.
The two star players on each team are the difference. Which is why Jokic and Murray have the slight upper-hand. Expect the Heat to grab two games because of Jimmy Butler and their shooting, but the Nuggets win the NBA Finals in six games.
Author: Jake Faigus