Preview and pick for Game 4 of the NBA Finals
Most people figured that the Denver Nuggets were the team with more talent and more accomplishment behind them as they entered the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat. And that seemed to manifest itself in Game 2, when they made a little history.
BetOnline customers who backed the Heat may be a bit discouraged, but this club has bounced back again and again under the leadership of Erik Spoelstra. So they aren't pushing the panic button just yet.
The Heat defense has not found a way to deal effectively with Nikola Jokic, while the Nuggets have been able to keep Jimmy Butler from taking over ballgames. And Denver has a dangerous #2 option in Jamal Murray. Between Jokic and Murray, they both put up triple-doubles highlighted by 30 points. And that is the first time in NBA history such a thing has happened.
If you are advocating for the Heat, you would suggest that they experienced only one bad quarter in Wednesday's 109-94 loss. But in the NBA, that's what it's all about - avoiding those stretches where things can get way out of control.
Denver led Game 3 by a score of 53-48 at the half. Within 15 minutes (of game time), the lead was 21 points.
Miami hit 37% from the field and came back down to earth from three-point range, as they shot just 31.4%, closer to their regular season norm of 34.4% than they had previously attained in the playoffs.
In the NBA Finals betting odds that have been posted on this game by the folks at BetOnline, Denver is once again a road favorite:
Denver Nuggets -3.5
Miami Heat +3.5
Over 212.5 Points -110
Under 212.5 Points -110
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Butler managed 28 points in the last game, and usually the Heat can do well with output like that. But that's contingent on some production coming from the unsung heroes on this team. And the undrafted trio of Gabe Vincent, Max Strus and Duncan Robinson had only six field goals between them. Another undrafted player, Caleb Martin, was a genuine super sub in the previous playoff series, but Miami has gotten just 16 points on 6-for-19 shooting from him thus far against Denver.
One statistical comparison that really pops out at us is the ability of both of these teams to score when they are inside the arc. The Nuggets have shot 59.6% in two-pointers, while the Heat are at 44.6%. So unless Miami can shoot unusually well from three-point range, they are going to be in trouble. Denver is the team that can get the "easy" baskets. Jokic has shot 59% overall. And Aaron Gordon appears to be defending everyone, everywhere.
The chances for Tyler Herro to play in this series are dwindling. He has not been available since the first game of the first series against Milwaukee, as he had broken his hand. Miami could use his offense, although he is more or less a liability on the defensive end.
Butler is the big gun, obviously, but going back to the third game of the series against Boston, he has shot 40% overall from the field and has made exactluy ten triples (35.5%).
More balanced offense is needed. And many Heat fans are actually wishing that Kevin Love and Kyle Lowry were only five or six years younger. Oh, and that Victor Oladipo was healthy...... We'll lay the points for the smaller play, but we'll also continue with another under.
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