In an NBA playoffs that has featured some unexpected results, the Denver Nuggets have been the one constant so far. Denver, the 1-seed in the Western Conference, enter Game 2 of the NBA Finals with a 13-3 record this postseason. The Nuggets extended their playoff win streak to seven following a 104-93 win over the Miami Heat in Thursday’s Game 1. The Heat vs. Nuggets odds for Game 2 are similar.
Denver looked like a team on 10 days’ rest coming into Game 1. They were never seriously challenged after opening up a nine-point lead in the first quarter and winning by 11–covering an 8.5-point spread. Nikola Jokic only took 12 shots from the field but still extended an NBA record with his ninth triple-double of these playoffs. The Heat, playing just three days after surviving a charge from Boston after the Celtics forced a Game 7 after falling behind 3-0, started to turn things on in the fourth quarter after the game was already decided. However, outscoring the Nuggets 30-20 in the final period is something to build on in Game 2.
Round: NBA Finals
Date: Sunday, June 4, 2023
Time: 8 p.m. on ABC
Location: Ball Arena (Denver, Colorado)
Miami Heat (44-38)
Miami did a good job in a couple facets of Game 1. The Heat held Denver to 104 points, which was the Western Conference Champs’ second-lowest total of their playoff run. They were also able to keep the Nuggets not named Jokic or Jamal Murray in check. Holding Jokic to 12 shots was a win, but the two-time NBA MVP was also sent to the free-throw line 12 times, making 10 of them.
Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra’s plan going into Game 1 was to rotate all five players on guarding Jokic. They had some more luck in the fourth quarter, but the game was in hand at that point for Denver. Miami has an extra off-day to figure it out.
Bam Adebayo has had good success against Denver, and that continued in Game 2. The Heat center led the team with 26 points and 13 rebounds. The Heat, however, were only 13-for-39 from 3-point range. That number looks worse if you take out Gabe Vincent’s 5-of-10 night from long range.
Keep an eye on the injury report for Heat guard Tyler Herro. After breaking a bone in his hand in the Game 1 of the first round against Milwaukee, Herro has ramped up in recent days. Reports after the Boston series were that he might be able to return for Game 3 of the Finals. Now, there’s talk of him playing Sunday night. After struggling on offense in Game 1, the Heat could certainly use their third-leading scorer from the regular season.
Both Jokic and Murray showed how important they are to the Nuggets success in Game 1. But that was clear over the past two playoffs. Denver was without Murray due to injury and didn’t advance past the first round. In his last healthy playoffs, the Nuggets reached the Western Conference Finals in 2020. Now, Denver looks poised to win its first NBA championship with the duo firing on all cylinders.
Another factor working in the Nuggets’ favor is the 10-day break we talked about. Playing a mile above sea level, visiting players said they do tire faster when playing in Denver. Since their Eastern Conference series took seven games to decide, this will be the first back-to-back games Miami plays in the same city since Games 3 and 4 of the Celtics series nearly two weeks ago.
Heat vs. Nuggets Game 2 Odds & Our Prediction
After a strong fourth quarter in Game 1, the Los Angeles Lakers were confident that they cracked the code of Jokic and Murray for Game 2. Try as they might, the Lakers lost Game 2, 108-103, and couldn’t solve things in time. The Nuggets swept the Lakers away. Miami’s defense was good in Game 1, just like it was in Games 6 and 7 against Boston. Just like the last series, this game could be closer, but Denver will prevail and take a 2-0 lead to Miami next week.
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