Nuggets vs. Heat Odds & Pick: Back Denver Against Dismantled Heat Roster

Nuggets vs. Heat Odds & Pick: Back Denver Against Dismantled Heat Roster article feature image
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Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Nikola Jokic.

  • While the Nuggets have shown signs of life over the past couple weeks, the Miami Heat are struggling.
  • Miami is without star Jimmy Butler, among others, while Denver just got back Michael Porter Jr.
  • Brandon Anderson isn't overthinking this game and is taking Denver as favorites, as he explains below.

Nuggets vs. Heat Odds

Nuggets Odds -5
Heat Odds +5
Moneyline -210 / +176
Over/Under N/A
Time 7:30 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds as of Tuesday at 6 p.m. ET and via FanDuel.

It was just a few months ago that the Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat were playing in the Conference Finals in the bubble, but it feels like an eternity ago.

Both teams have had a bumpy ride so far to start this season. The Nuggets are 10-7 but have bounced through some injuries and missing players, while Jamal Murray hasn’t played like he did in the bubble thus far.

The Heat have been crushed by injuries and COVID-19 health protocols. Miami is 6-10 and struggling to stay in the mix. The Heat’s roster is a mess of missing players, and they’re just trying to stay afloat until the team can get Jimmy Butler and others back.

While neither team is playing as well as it did in the bubble, can they give us a good game anyway?

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Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets finally look healthy again and could be in position to make a run.

Denver got Michael Porter Jr. back this week, and MPJ has been huge so far this season, when he’s been able to play. Porter is scoring more than 18 points per game and hitting nearly 50% of his 3-point attempts while playing improved defense. He’s been Denver’s second-best player when active, and he scored 30 points on Monday night for the second time this season.

Nikola Jokic might be the best player in the NBA so far this year. Jokic’s assists have dropped a little, but he’s still nearly averaging a 25-point triple-double. Really, Jokic should be a clear MVP favorite right now considering how well he’s playing and how poorly the rest of the Nuggets have played.

Murray has really struggled to match his bubble breakout so far this season and just got ejected Tuesday night after dishing out a below-the-belt shot. Players typically aren’t suspended after an ejection like that, so Murray is expected to play, but it’s hard to know which version of him we’re getting right now.

Elsewhere, Gary Harris and Will Barton have also struggled this season, and Paul Millsap looks like a shell of his former self.

Still, the Nuggets are taking care of business. They’ve won four games in a row and have played three overtime periods in the past week. Denver’s only losses in January are to the Suns, Mavericks, Nets and Jazz, all respectable losses and games that the Nuggets were in until the final buzzer.


Miami Heat

You’re forgiven if you barely even recognize the Miami Heat right now.

Jimmy Butler hasn’t played since Jan. 9 and remains out due to COVID-19 protocol. Goran Dragic and Tyler Herro are listed as questionable, and Moe Harkless, Avery Bradley and Meyers Leonard are also question marks.

Bam Adebayo and Duncan Robinson are the only healthy starters, and it tells you all you need to know about this team when injury updates on Gabe Vincent and KZ Okpala are informing that night’s lineup and outcome. Miami is relying heavily on Kelly Olynyk and Kendrick Nunn. There’s just not a lot here right now.

The Heat rank bottom 10 in the NBA in both Offensive and Defensive Ratings, per NBA Advanced Stats. They’ve lost six of seven games and are just grinding right now, trying to hang in there.

This is still the Miami Heat, though. Their team culture means they’ll show up and fight hard each night. Miami is just fighting with one hand tied behind its back at the moment.

The Heat offense has been especially poor of late. Other than an outlier against the Nets’ lack of defense, Miami is typically posting an offensive rating of around 90 to 95 while playing at a glacial pace. The Heat are slowing things down, defending and hoping to survive.

Nuggets-Heat Pick

Expect a very slow game here. Denver plays slow anyway, and Miami has been at a snail’s pace of late. The Heat are playing the first game of a back-to-back set, and Denver has traveled a ton lately with three overtime periods. I expect two tired teams, and we may not get the prettiest game.

Outside of the Brooklyn game, Miami is averaging just 99.7 points per game over its last six. Not great.

There’s just not much offense here, even with Adebayo taking another step forward and Robinson hitting shots. If Dragic and/or Herro are able to play, that would certainly help. Denver’s defense has not been good either, but Porter helps some on that end and if you can’t score, the defense doesn’t matter all that much.

I will be looking closely at an under here, but Denver is 12-4-1 to the over this season this season, including three straight. A Miami team under might be the better play, considering they are struggling to hit triple digits right now.

In the end, I’m just going to make the simple play here and take the Nuggets to win and cover. At -5, this is close enough for me to just take the better team and trust them to get the job done late.

Denver is far better and should win against the depleted Heat, so I’ll bank on them to get the cover and grab this line before it starts to rise. I’ll play to -6 but will otherwise take another look at the Miami team under for value.

Pick: Nuggets -5 (up to -6)

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