NBA Finals: Best bets, odds and predictions for Game 4 between the Miami Heat and Denver Nuggets

By Jonathan Von Tobel  (Senior NBA Analyst) 

June 9, 2023 05:54 PM
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Denver Nuggets (-3, 211) at Miami Heat

Game 4: Nuggets lead series 2-1

Three games into the NBA Finals it is becoming apparent that Miami has no answer for Denver’s incredible offense. 

The Nuggets have averaged 119.5 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time against the Heat, and in halfcourt settings they have a 104.5 offensive rating. Miami’s once dominant rim protection has been picked apart by Denver’s constant cuts and mismatch hunting. Through the three games played the Nuggets have taken 32.5% of their shots within four feet and they are 48-of-65 (73.8%) on those attempts. 

The Nuggets also changed the way they attacked the zone in Game 3, operating mostly out of the low post with Nikola Jokic and Aaron Gordon. The adjustment opened up the weak side of the floor for Denver, and it allowed Christian Braun to dominate by constantly cutting to the basket. It was a driving force behind the 60 points in the paint the Nuggets had on Wednesday night.

Denver has many ways to attack Miami’s biggest strength on defense, and they have done it without shooting the ball particularly well. The Nuggets have shot under 30% from beyond the arc in two of the three games in this series, and that should worry Heat backers, as that is not likely to continue.

It’s my belief that what Denver has shown on offense is not going anywhere. The Heat do not have a defensive option to shut down Jokic one-on-one, and the Nuggets are capable of adjusting their gameplan at any moment. If that is the case, then how do we attack this game from a betting standpoint?

My first recommendation would be to stay away from the pre-flop total for the game. The market has adjusted in a big way, knocking this total down to 210.5 consensus this morning. That is 8.5 points lower than the opening total for Game 1 and it is a 3.5 point adjustment from the closing total on Wednesday. 

Instead, let’s look at Denver's team total for the game. 

The consensus number is 106.5 with varying juice to the over, depending on where you shop. As previously mentioned, the Nuggets’ offense is going nowhere. The Heat have had zero answer for it the entire series, and they have allowed more than 106.5 points in the last two games. If we get the usual production from the Nuggets on that end of the floor this will be an attainable number, especially if the shooting suddenly regresses to the mean for them.

There is also a chance Miami decides to pick up the pace on offense. The Heat posted their highest transition frequency rate off live rebounds of the series on Wednesday. One of the few things they have yet to try on offense is to play with pace. Remember, the Nuggets finished 28th in transition defense off live rebounds in the regular season. The Suns even tried to exploit it in the conference semifinals, and did so successfully even though they are not a fastbreak team.

I will also add that I believe Denver is the side to play tonight. The Nuggets are the better team, and they have many different ways to attack the Heat defense. They also showed a much tighter brand of defensive basketball on Wednesday night with effective communication. Much like I have played the Nuggets in series past, I believe they are good enough to go out tonight and take a 3-1 series lead on the road.

Bets: Nuggets TT OVER 106.5 (-115), Nuggets (-3.5)

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