NBA Finals Betting -- Heat try to keep things under control in Game 3 vs. Nuggets

  • In Charles Jay
  • Wed, Jun 7th, 2023 11:33:43 am
  • By Charles Jay - Exclusive to OSGA


The Miami Heat gets points as a rare home underdog in the NBA Finals against the Denver Nuggets. The series is tied at 1-1.


Some people may be a bit surprised that Jimmy Butler has not been able to run wild yet in the NBA Finals. But the Denver Nuggets have done pretty well against him defensively. And Erik Spoelstra is finding out that he doesn't necessarily have the same coaching advantage he might have had in the previous round against a first-year guy.

Still, the Miami Heat, after a decisive Game 1 defeat, came back to win Game 2 on the road against a team that had beaten them in 14 of the last 15 meetings.

So that adds drama to Game 3, which will tip off at 8:30 PM ET on Wednesday at the Kaseya Center, which by the way is in downtown Miami and not South Beach. And no, Tyler Herro will not play for Miami.

Here are the NBA Finals betting odds on Game 3, as they have been established at BetOnline. As you can see, Miami is the home underdog:

Denver Nuggets -3
Miami Heat +3

Over 213.5 Points -110
Under 213.5 Points -110

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Examining what happened in Game 2 as opposed to Game 1, it seemed only natural that the Heat was (a) going to get more aggressive, and (b) was going to get more breaks from the officials, which translates into more opportunities at the free throw line. So while they only got two attempts in the opener, they managed to score 18 points at the charity stripe three nights ago.

And there was also a world of difference in the way these teams knocked down three-pointers. They were both horrid in Game 1, going a combined 31.8% from beyond the arc. That changed on Sunday night, as they were a lot sharper (28-63, or 44.4%). But where is it that we got to the "norm"? We actually had to sweat out the total a little, before it settled on an eventual final tally of 219.

And with certain things being constants, like Nikola Jokic scoring a lot of points (he had 41 in Game 2), maybe it is the three-point shooting that holds a key. There were 84 points scored from downtown in Game 2, with only 63 in Game 1. So that made a 21-point difference. And we still had to hold our breath for them to get the "over" bet for us.

Denver averaged 35.4 points from triples this season, with Miami at 36 points. But while Denver was a solid 37.9%, Miami is only 34.4%. And the heat has done better than that in the playoffs.

Where the Heat really excels is in preventing its opponents from getting opportunities INSIDE the arc, as they are have permitted fewer two-point baskets than anybody. In other words, they push opponents out to the circle, and will let them shoot from there. So if the Nuggets can have a good shooting night, that is usually going to do the trick.

But remember that the Nuggets hit 57.5% of their two-pointers, which is second best in the league, so they obvious would like to do that. And when Miami DOES let you get into the paint are, they have allowed the second highest percentage in the NBA (57%). Following us so far?

If the Heat can get to the free throw line with some frequency, they are going to have a lot easier time with Denver, as they hit 83% as a team. Meanwhile, fouling Jokic has been no bargain, as he is 82% for the whole season.

Pace is an important factor. In the NBA it is measured by the number of possessions per 48 minutes. These teams played to totals of 243 and 220 during the regular season, with Pace figures of 99.4 and 91, respectively.

Neither of these clubs was customarily in a hurry during regular season play. Denver played at a pace of 98.1, which was 23rd in the NBA. Miami was practically crawling, at 96.3, and only Cleveland played slower. So far in the first two games of the series the average Pace has been 88.9, which would have been, by far, the lowest in the league if projected over a full season.

Now, it makes sense that teams that like to run it up and down the floor would be comparatively deliberate come playoff time. And teams that are deliberate by nature are going to be even more deliberate.

So as we look at what's happened, it occurs to us that one or both of these teams is going to have to get very hot in order for this game to exceed the total. And the Heat knows that their best chance at victory lies in limiting the number of possessions. So they play slow. They also want to get back on defense quickly to limit Denver's ability to break, and that will affect their second-shot opportunities.

If Miami is overly dependent on shooting triples, understand that we shouldn't expect them to hit ten percentage points better than their season average in every game, much less the consecutive games where you know Denver coach Michael Malone has made adjustments.

So we're moving in the direction of an UNDER for this game.

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