NBA Finals Game 3: No Herro, all eyes on Heat defense of Jokic

June 7, 2023 03:29 AM


Heading into Game 3, it seems as though most bettors think this is going to be all Nuggets the rest of the way. Our VSiN NBA Betting Splits page tells us that a large majority of the tickets have come in on Denver to cover as a 2.5-point favorite. But people have been wrong about this Heat team at every turn. That’s part of the reason the Heat are 14-6 against the spread since the start of the playoffs.

There were some rumblings that Tyler Herro (hand) would return for Game 3, but the scorer was ruled out by the Heat on Tuesday. It would have been nice for Miami to get him back, as the team doesn’t have many guys that can put up 20 on any given night. But the Heat have been just fine without him, as they’re three wins away from winning an NBA title and have done most of that work with Herro watching from the sidelines.

While Denver has a lot more talent than Miami, the Nuggets have some real weaknesses they need to address. The main one is that Denver is prone to defensive breakdowns, and that has resulted in far too many open 3s for Erik Spoelstra’s team. The Heat shot 17 for 35 from behind the 3-point line in Game 2, and a lot of those were uncontested looks. If Miami continues to get great shots in this series, the difference in talent won’t matter. The Heat are too close to the finish line and truly believe they can compete with anyone.

Something to keep an eye on heading into this pivotal first game in South Beach is how the Heat defend the Nuggets. Spoelstra got on reporters for talking about whether he prefers Jokic operates as a scorer or not, but there was some validity to the questions. Jokic picked the Heat apart in the first game of the series, finishing with 27 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds while barely missing from the field. But in Game 2, the big man scored 41 points on 16-of-28 shooting and had only four assists.

Jokic is at his best when he’s able to let the game come to him and take the time to look for his teammates. But when the Heat buckle down and defend like hell off the ball, the Nuggets offense isn’t as free flowing and difficult to defend as usual. With that said, Miami wants Jokic playing to score as much as possible. Denver is 0-3 in Jokic’s three highest scoring games this postseason, and the team is 9-0 when he scores fewer than 30 points.

For what it’s worth, Jokic is -265 to win the Finals MVP at DraftKings Sportsbook. But if you believe in the Heat, you might want to jump on Jimmy Butler at +475 or Bam Adebayo at +550. Those are the two likeliest players to win for Miami and backing one of them is probably a better way to bet on the Heat’s success than taking them at +225 to win the series. 

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