NBA Finals: Best bets, odds and predictions for Game 5 between the Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat

By Jonathan Von Tobel  (Senior NBA Analyst) 

June 12, 2023 10:33 AM


Welcome to your source of daily analysis of the NBA Playoffs! Here we will break down each game, discuss betting angles, give predictions and more. For more discussion make sure to check out our daily NBA betting podcast: Hardwood Handicappers.

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Miami Heat at Denver Nuggets (-9, 207.5)

Game 5: Nuggets lead series 3-1

Denver’s offense has been a constant theme written about in this column throughout the NBA Finals, and it will be the center of this article once again.

It is safe to say that the Nuggets have figured out the Heat defense, no matter what scheme is on the floor. Denver is averaging 119.6 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time for the series, 108.0 points per 100 plays in halfcourt settings and they have dominated Miami’s zone defense. In fact, the Nuggets have played against the zone so well that the Heat went from 20 possessions of zone defense in Game 1 to none on Friday night. 

They have played so well on offense that they made their opponent’s best defensive weapon obsolete.

Now that we move back to the friendly confines of Ball Arena there is no reason to expect a drop-off in offensive production, so there is no reason to come off a previous bet made in this column: Denver’s team total.

Despite only 91 possessions on offense and foul trouble for Nikola Jokic the Nuggets were able to eke over the closing team total on Friday night. Tonight the total is two points higher than what it closed at for Game 4 but playing at home should give a slight boost to Denver’s offensive production which has already been great. I also suspect that we might see a slightly different offensive gameplan for Miami tonight.

On Friday night 41.4% of the Heat’s live ball rebounds led to a transition play. It was the highest transition frequency mark on live rebounds for Miami by a mile, and it makes so much sense. Denver has been very poor in transition defense on live rebounds, so why not push the pace in order to test that weak link? If that hypothesis is correct that means more possessions obviously and that means more opportunities for the Nuggets to surpass their team total.

Now, some might read that and wonder why the play is not on the game total. The problem is that I do not believe that the Heat are good enough in transition on offense, so even an increased tempo will not lead to offensive success for Miami. Look at Game 4 on Friday night for an example. As previously mentioned, the Heat ran on an extremely high rate of live ball rebounds, but they still only managed 1.091 points per play and 1.044 per possession for the game.

So as a result, the team total for the Nuggets will be the play once more tonight. I also believe that Denver ends the series, but with the line right where I believe it should be there is no play to be made on the side.

Bet: Nuggets TT OVER 109.5 (-115)

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