NBA Finals Prop Bets: Expert Picks for Heat vs. Nuggets Series From the Buckets Podcast
Getty Images/Matt Roembke of Action Network. Pictured: Logos of the Miami Heat and Denver Nuggets alongside the Larry O’Brien trophy,.
Everyone loves betting player props and in the playoffs we've had the opportunity to go even deeper on player props for the series. So of course we had to go even bigger for the the NBA Finals.
The matchup between the Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat could end up going any number of ways, but the odds don't favor the Heat's chances to come out on the winning side of this one (stop us if you've heard that one before).
Whatever the outcome, we can still find value on series player props at various books that either complement our bets on the series or give an opportunity to cash in if something unlikely happens.
Action Network writer Brandon Anderson and contributors Joe Dellera and Jim Turvey joined NBA Senior Writer Matt Moore on the Buckets Podcast earlier this week to discuss some of the bets, but here are our favorite NBA Finals player props for Heat vs Nuggets.
NBA Finals Prop Bets
Jim Turvey: There will be long shots galore in this article, but this is the most standard bet.
I'm distilling this down a bit to a three-player race. There are certainly worlds in which someone other than Jokic, Jimmy Butler or Jamal Murray lead the series in points, but in this market, those are the big three.
This is a series in which I'm fading Butler heavily (to my own peril, I know), but this is an almost 34-year-old who is coming off a battle of a seven-game series and is now headed to play at high altitude against a team with a wide variety of excellent wing defenders.
Once we get this down to Jokic vs. Murray, this becomes a play on how Erik Spoelstra is going to defend the Nuggets. A lot of smart folks are thinking there’s at least a decent chance that he dares Jokic to beat them with his scoring rather than his playmaking, which furthers the look at Jokic between these two Nuggets.
Note: This line has moved to -1600 after Game 2.
Brandon Anderson: Obviously, Jokic is the favorite here, and he’s the likely winner. I’m not sure I see this as a big assists series for Jokic, though. I think Miami may try to turn him into more of a scorer and focus on taking away Denver’s other weapons by limiting Jokic’s passing lanes as much as possible.
Jimmy Butler, meanwhile, might be leaning into his passing. His scoring has been down, from over 33 PPG in the first eight playoff games to just 24 in the last 10. He isn’t getting lift on that ankle and is repeatedly turning down chances to go up in the paint in order to pass back out. This is a bet on him continuing to do that, with his assists up 1 APG in that same stretch the scoring is down.
Butler probably still falls short of Jokic, but this is also a bit of a hedge on Miami staying hot and hitting shots since that’s how this hits, so it rounds out my portfolio some. I don’t mind waiting to play after Game 1 if you think the Nuggets win, since the odds likely move further in our favor.
Jim Turvey: As Brandon said, this is a market with a massive favorite in Jokic, but a series that may lend itself to a longshot in this category.
As such, let’s look at the very next name in order of assists per game this postseason for these two rosters combined: Jamal Murray.
If this becomes a series in which Jokic is putting on his scoring pants, that’s great news for this play in multiple directions. For one, it obviously means fewer assists for Jokic, but as Matt Moore brought up on the podcast version of these plays, a vast majority of Murray’s assists are to Jokic.
In terms of potential assists, Murray has far outpaced Butler this postseason, and as noted above, Butler is more of a fade than hammer for me across his props in these Finals in general.
Note: This line moved to +650 at FanDuel after Game 2.
Michael Porter Jr.
Joe Dellera: On the season, MPJ has made at least two 3s in 79% of games. That's better than Murray (70%), KCP (53%), and yes, Caleb Martin (41%).
MPJ averages three per game (in both mean and median outcomes), and in his last contest against Miami, he took a whopping 13 3-point attempts. I fully expect the volume to be there. He has an ultra-high floor, and that matters when coupled with his high ceiling. He will always be in this one.
I’ll fund my series leader bet with a bet on his over 2.8 3s per game (-115 at DraftKings).
Note: This line has moved to +950 after Game 1.
Jim Turvey: If the Heat stick with the zone, this is going to be a great play.
For his career, 28.4% of KCP’s threes have come from the corner, where he hits them at a 41.4% clip. This season, his first with Denver, that rate went into overdrive, with a whopping 41.7% of his 3s coming from the corner.
It makes sense. Close your eyes and picture each Nugget taking a 3 — Murray is at the top of the key; MPJ is on the wing; Jokic is walking backward, not facing the basket, off one leg, with a moonshot that touches nothing but net. But KCP is locked down in the corner.
That’s a great shot to beat the zone, which is why, even if the Heat abandon the zone after getting it run off the court the first few games, this bet can potentially be a chip to build out a portfolio in what could be the most interesting market in this series.
The Nuggets also have been allowing the first threes to teams all season, which greatly dampens the chances of any Miami player in this market.
Michael Porter Jr. is a great look here (and chosen by both Brandon and Joe), but if you’re looking for a longshot, KCP is the guy.
Note: This line has moved to +20000 after Game 2.
Brandon Anderson: In a way, we’re really all making this bet. If Jamal Murray goes over 3.6 treys per game, he’s very likely to lead the series in 3s — and probably be a threat to lead it in points or even make a push for Finals MVP.
I’m going the other direction, mostly because this feels like a silly number. Murray is averaging 3.1 makes this postseason on 7.9 attempts, and that’s even with him absolutely on fire for most of this run.
For whatever it’s worth, Murray actually has his second-lowest PPG vs. Miami of any NBA team, and the Heat have not allowed him to get a ton of 3s up.
I’m just not sure the volume will be there for him to hit this number without shooting an ungodly percentage.
Note: This line has moved to 2.8 3s per game after Game 2.
Brandon Anderson: As long as it isn’t the final two minutes of a life-or-death Game 6, Duncan Robinson is as good a shooter as any human on the planet not named Stephen Curry.
Robinson is liable to catch fire in any game at any time. He’s the sort of guy who can hit three treys in two minutes. I’m not sure this is a great series for Robinson, but that’s been true in other series, too, and he’s had a game with five 3s in all three series so far — and done it in 24 minutes or less all three times.
He had 19 games last season with 5+ 3s in a game, and he tends to play garbage time and fire away so he could hit this entire margin in an otherwise meaningless fourth quarter. I’ll nibble him at +4700 (FanDuel) to lead the series in 3s too.
If he does hit four or five in Game 1, we’ll get a great hedge position to work with later.
Note: This line has moved to +425 after Game 2.
Jim Turvey: Captain Wet Blanket here, reporting for duty.
As of a week ago — as of two games ago — this was a player averaging 12.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game in what was then considered a breakout postseason for Martin considering his season averages of 9.6 points and 4.8 rebounds.
Then he went and averaged 23.5 points and 12.5 rebounds in Games 6 and 7 with all eyes on him, and in doing so, came a hair away from Conference Finals MVP.
Now, he’s getting lines set at 16.5 points and 7.5 (!) rebounds for Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
Martin played a combined 86 minutes in those two final games — he had never played 86 minutes in two straight games before in his career. Say it with me — now he’s going to play at altitude coming off the biggest high of his career.
There's certainly a chance that we just saw the breakout of a new semi-star in the league, but I’m willing to be the wet blanket on the other side of that bet.
Michael Porter Jr.
Brandon Anderson: Michael Porter Jr. has always been an outstanding positional rebounder. It was a standout skill for him in high school and college, but it hasn’t been showcased as much in his role for Denver — until the playoffs.
MPJ has played big this postseason — literally. He’s using his size to his advantage and will have a serious size and athleticism advantage in any matchup this series. He’s averaging 8.0 RPG for the playoffs, but this number is still based on his regular-season play. MPJ is up to 9.0 RPG the last eight games with a rebounding double-double in five of the eight, so I’ll play this over and look to back his rebounds and 3s overs game-to-game too.
I’m on that 3s series leader angle with Joe as well. I think MPJ is in for a big series.
Note: This bet has moved to 7.9 RPG at DraftKings after Game 2.
Brandon Anderson: Joe and I both like this bet, and it’s sort of the compilation of everything we’ve talked about above.
Butler is not scoring as much as he was early in the playoffs. He’s down to 24 PPG in the last 10 games after starting at over 33 in the first eight, and he’s just not looking as aggressive or explosive. It’s the ankle, and I’m just not sure there’s a ton left in the tank.
Denver is pretty good about not fouling, so if it can force Butler to score without getting to the line, he might just not have a big scoring series.
Jokic is always a threat to just not score any game, and it only takes one to lose this bet, but I think Miami forces him to score to beat them instead of facilitating the offense. He’s proven he can do that, and if I’m right about Butler being limited, this might be a bet on Jokic getting into even the low 20s each game — and hopefully for just four or five games, since a limited Butler probably means a short series for Miami.
This number is just too long considering Butler’s health, so I’ll give it a shot.
Note: This bet is no longer available at Caesars after Game 2.
Joe Dellera: I think Denver may want Nikola Jokic to go directly at Bam Adebayo to force potential foul trouble — and considering his success as a scoring threat during the postseason — especially against a similar defensive talent in Anthony Davis — I expect that Jokic will continue to score.
Against AD, Jokic just averaged 27.8 points, 14.5 rebounds and 11.8 assists per game in the Western Conference Finals. Miami has even fewer options than the Lakers did. He has averaged 29.9 PPG throughout the playoffs and 31.8 PPG over his last 10 games.
Considering I expect this to be a shorter series, this bet has a bit more value when capped at fewer games.
Note: Jokic to score 30+ in every game lost. Jokic to average 30+ points is currently unavailable at FanDuel after Game 2.
Jim Turvey: You have props galore here, so I’ll keep this one incredibly short and sweet: The Heat do not have the size to compete with Nikola Jokic.
Bam Adebayo is an incredibly versatile defender, but he’s also one of the most pedestrian rebounding centers in the league, and if your team is rolling out Kevin Love to try to slow down Jokic on the boards, it may not be a great sign.
I'm also liking these types of props more in a Finals that I see being shorter than the market, which has this priced around five or six games. I see this closer to four or five games. The shorter the series, the easier it is for props like this one to hit.
Note: This bet is currently unavailable at Caesars after Game 2.
Joe Dellera: I think Jokic will be used as a scorer, which is generally a bit easier to rack up PRA. I prefer this to the triple-double in every game because it allows for the fluctuations on a nightly basis for which stat Jokic impacts the game with.
Jokic has recorded 50+ PRA in 10 of his last 12 playoff games and has found success against other elite interior defenders in Rudy Gobert, Deandre Ayton and Anthony Davis. As good as Bam is, he's not necessarily a rebounding magnet, and I expect Jokic to impact the game with his scoring, rebounding and facilitating.
Note: This line has moved to +500 at FanDuel after Game 2.
Brandon Anderson: This is a math play and a bet against Butler’s health.
I just don’t think Butler looks right. He isn’t as aggressive attacking the basket, and those pull-up jumpers are hitting the front of the rim, the telltale sign of a tired guy who isn't getting lift on a bad ankle. The Heat need Butler’s offense, and I suspect that could mean settling for 3s now and then.
Butler is averaging 4.0 3-point attempts per game outside of the Knicks series, when he was freshly injured. He took only two in Game 1, but made one in the first couple minutes. Butler doesn’t prefer to shoot 3s but isn’t terrible in terms of efficiency, around 33% lifetime.
This is a pretty simple math equation. If I’m right about Butler not being much of a scorer, this is probably a short series. If a 33% shooter takes three 3s a game in a sweep – and we already hit Game 1 for this bet – we get at least one make in every game 35% of the time, which would mean shorter than +200 odds.
For this number to be right for a 33% shooter, it would have to mean either two attempts per game in a sweep or three per game in six games. I think we might end up closer to four attempts in four or five games, so this number is way off. Butler has at least one 3-pointer in over half his playoff games and in 64% of his non-Knicks games. We only need one each game.
Note: This line has moved to +190 at FanDuel after Game 2.
Brandon Anderson: At DraftKings, we can bet Denver to win every game of a sweep by double digits at +2200.
The Nuggets did that in Game 1, albeit barely, and they're being given close to a 50% chance to do so again here since the line is at -8.5. If Denver does that and repeats the feat in Game 3, the Nuggets are sizable road favorites in Game 4, probably -7 or longer, and it sure feels like this battered Miami team might be ready to admit defeat at that point. That could turn into a Denver coronation.
That puts this bet almost entirely on Game 3, and that won't be easy. It's a classic spot for a team coming home down 0-2 with the series and season on the line. But I trust Denver, and I just think the Nuggets look much, much better. This line is not pricing in the odds swing that would come in Game 4 if the Nuggets truly go on the road in Game 3 and win by double digits.
I price a sweep around 26%, so it's fairly priced at around +300. This is effectively an escalator version of a sweep. It's unlikely, but not as unlikely as +2200 would imply. Denver has a chance to make quick work of this series.
Note: This bet lost after Game 2.
Michael Porter Jr.
Joe Dellera: Michael Porter Jr. made just two 3-pointers in Game 1; however, he had plenty of volume. Porter took 11 3s, seven which could be classified as open or wide open by NBA tracking data, and he made just one of those high-quality looks. The scheme that Miami plays has allowed MPJ to get open looks and even if there is some coverage, he has generally had a significant size advantage.
MPJ has exceeded 2.5 3s in eight off his 16 playoff games; however, he has four or more in six of those eight games. The Heat generally allow a greater frequency of 3s, and in this game, the Nuggets took just 31% of their attempts from 3, yet MPJ took 40.7% of them. I fully expect MPJ to continue shooting with volume, and with a season long 3-point percentage of 41% there is value on both his base line of 2.5 and 4-plus made 3s (+175).
And if you didn’t get him pre-series to lead in 3s now would be the time to do so — DraftKings has the best line at +330.
He leads the series in 3-point attempts at 19. His four makes rank fourth, behind Gabe Vincent's nine but only one behind Kyle Lowry and Jamal Murray. Strus, Vincent, Murray and Michael Porter Jr. are the only players with double-digit attempts (all at 15 or more) with Strus averaging 9.5 per game. He's a career 37.1% shooter and better at home, where the Heat will host at least the next two games.
As Miami continues to crank up its 3-point volume, Strus should be a primary beneficiary. We saw him average 8.6 3-point attempts against the New York Knicks after Miami supercharged its 3s with Butler hurt. Strus led that series in 3s with 17. Why couldn't he do it again?
In four games against the Nuggets this regular season and playoffs, Strus has made 4-of-10, 0-of-9, 4-of-12, and 4-of-8 3s. The volume has been consistent at 9.8 attempts per game, and he's hit four in 75% of them.
If Strus takes 10 treys four more times — assuming Miami in six, their best winning scenario — and shoots 40%, that's 16 more makes. That gets Strus to 20 3s over the final five games and makes him a key factor in a shocking Heat championship.
Max Strus can lead the series in 3s with this volume. But I don't think that's far enough. Strus has an outside shot at Finals MVP too at +50000 (BetRivers). I made the case for that bet and a few other props in my article here.
Brandon Anderson: This is one I talked about on the most recent episode of the Buckets Podcast ahead of Game 3.
Murray has 38 potential assists for the series, while Jokic is at 28. Murray is leading the series in assists right now — 20 for him, 18 for Jokic, 16 for Butler. I’m going to assume they find some ways to unlock Jokic’s passing, but it’s not like scoring. You can’t force passing and make teammates hit this shot.
I have my longshot ticket on Butler, too, but this is in play at 7-1 right now.
Brandon Anderson: Jim Turvey was on Murray to lead the series in assists at +4200 coming into the Finals. He still leads Jokic by two, and he's 13 potential assists ahead of him. I joined Jim at +800 heading into Game 3, and it still has value at +300 (Bet365).
FanDuel has a bet for Murray to hit double-digit assists every Finals game. It's entirely possible that's only two more games, and we've already hit the first three legs. I project Murray at 9.7 assists going forward this series, making that nearly 50/50 per game. It's priced far too long at +1900.
Brandon Anderson: I can't help but bite on Robinson at +6000 to lead the series in 3s. He could erase that four-shot deficit in two hot minutes, and he usually bombs away in garbage time too.
With Denver clamping down on Miami's guards and moving away from taking 3s itself, it's possible this series could end in Game 5 with a series 3s leader at 12 or 13. Robinson is always a threat to explode, with at least five makes in a game all three previous series this postseason. Let's have a nibble.