NBA Odds, Picks & Predictions: Anderson’s Bets for Heat vs. Nuggets Game 2
AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post. Pictured: Michael Porter Jr. of the Denver Nuggets.
- The Miami Heat and Denver Nuggets play Game 2 of the NBA Finals Sunday night.
- Brandon Anderson has several angles for tonight's matchup, including a bet on the first quarter and a live-betting angle.
- Check out his picks and predictions for Heat vs. Nuggets Game 2.
Heat vs. Nuggets Odds
And just like that, the Denver Nuggets are up 1-0 in their first Finals ever, and it felt like they barely even broke a sweat.
The Nuggets led nearly wire-to-wire in Game 1, up nine on the Heat at the end of the first quarter and 17 at halftime, and Miami never covered the +9 for even one play of the second half. Nikola Jokic had a triple-double in his Finals debut and controlled the game from the jump.
I wrote about 19 numbers that explain Denver's win and how to bet the series going forward.
So, do the Heat bounce back in Game 2, or is Denver just too good? Here are my betting picks and predictions for Heat vs. Nuggets Game 2.
Denver's Starting Five Are Bigger and Better than Miami's
The first thing that stood out immediately in Game 1 was Denver's huge — quite literally — size advantage.
The Nuggets looked like giants. Aaron Gordon scored 10 before the Finals had barely even started.
Michael Malone had his team ready, and Denver repeatedly abused size mismatches, especially with Bam Adebayo pulled out to the perimeter to defend Jokic.
Michael Porter Jr. got any shot he wanted and dominated on the glass. Even Jamal Murray looked big.
Denver's starting five looked incredibly comfortable given the stage — not just calm, but comfortable running the offense and getting any action they wanted, really. For much of the first half, it felt like every Heat basket was a relief or a made jumper while bucket after bucket from Denver was an open 3 or uncontested shot at the rim. The Nuggets made it look easy.
Later in the game, Denver took its foot off the gas a bit, while Miami switched up its lineup, played some zone defense, and finally made a few shots. The Heat never fully made a run, but Miami won the fourth quarter and the second half. Still, it never felt at any point like the Heat were the better team when Denver had its best five on the floor and played locked in.
I like the Nuggets first quarter for Game 2.
Jokic typically plays the full first quarter, and the full starting five does too outside of the final couple of minutes. Adebayo usually sits in those closing minutes, and it was clear Miami had no answers for Jokic without Bam.
A first-quarter bet is a play on the best version of Denver, with hopefully 12 guaranteed minutes of the best player in the world, plus a late kicker to chase if we're trailing and Adebayo subs out.
I expect Miami to be ready with some adjustments in Game 2, but we probably see them at least try a fairly standard approach early, and I trust Denver to be the better team straight up.
The Nuggets have a +13.3 Net Rating in first quarters this postseason. Miami is -1.3 in the first quarter and even worse on the road at -7.5 Net.
I don't mind a full game Nuggets -8.5 cover, but I feel better about the first half — and I feel best about the first quarter within that, since Jokic usually sits out the first five-ish minutes of the second quarter. So, let's just stick with what we feel best about.
Bet: Nuggets 1Q -2.5 (-108 · BetRivers)
The Heat Will Adjust and Make a Push — But Trust the Nuggets to Respond
Miami has to know it can't go down 0-2. Denver is too good to be beaten four times in five games, especially by this battered, exhausted Heat squad that knows its margin is thin.
That means we have to respect the Heat enough to expect a push at some point in Game 2. Typically with these Heat, that comes in the second half. That's been their M.O. throughout this postseason and, really, the full run since the 2020 Bubble.
We know by now not to count out Jimmy Butler and this merry band of undrafted Heat scalawags. Erik Spoelstra has already unveiled multiple versions of his zone defense, and Miami's offense found some answers.
I trust Denver to win Game 2, but I don't expect it to be as easy as it felt in Game 1. This feels like the season for Miami.
Still, I trust the Nuggets to close the deal and will be ready to live bet Denver late if I have the chance.
The Nuggets are unbeaten at home this postseason, and they've gone up 2-0 at home in every series. Game 2 was not easy in any of them, but Denver finished the job late. They've won Game 2 fourth quarters by 11, 13 and eight points.
The Nuggets take their foot off the gas at times, which may allow this feisty Miami squad to hang around, but they've also shown the ability to step on opponents' throats. Denver knows it's better. Denver knows what a 2-0 lead means.
If we get a spot to bet on the Nuggets in a close or slightly trailing spot late, I'll be ready to trust Jokic and Malone to find a way.
Bet: Be Ready to Live Bet Denver in 4th Quarter of Close Game
Expect Michael Porter Jr. to Be a Big X-Factor Again
Any team making its first Finals appearance will have an abundance of stories, and there's rightfully been a ton of focus on Jokic and Murray.
But I can't stop thinking about Michael Porter Jr.
MPJ was once the best prospect in his class. He was supposed to be the superstar leading his team in the NBA Finals someday. He was going to be Jokic or Butler. Then the injuries came and kept on coming, and then Porter found himself in Denver on a team with multiple other stars ahead of him in the pecking order.
As great as Jokic and Murray have played these last two months, Denver is not here without Porter. He's finally become the X-factor Denver envisioned him to be.
Porter's size and talent make him a mismatch in any game — and he's using that size to hit the glass, fire open 3s, defend like he's never defended before, and attack off the dribble.
Against Miami, MPJ's size really stands out. It means he can get that sweet shot off any time he wants, right over smaller Heat defenders, and it means he can dominate on the glass.
Porter took a playoff-high 11 treys in Game 1, and most of them looked good, but he hit only two of them. I eyed MPJ's 3s over 2.5, and I don't mind it but probably prefer an alternate 4+ at +180 since he tends to run hot and cold.
But I like the rebounds even more.
MPJ led all players in rebound chances in Game 1 with 21, one ahead of his MVP teammate. That led to 13 rebounds, and that conversion rate is actually low for Porter, who has the second-highest rebound conversion rate of any player in the playoffs.
I recommended MPJ rebounding overs before the series, and Game 1 was a slam dunk. The line has gone up to 8.5 now with +110 on the over, but I'll take it one rebound further and play for another double-double.
The 10 points should not be an issue, so we're looking for 10 rebounds.
MPJ had only three double-doubles all regular season — but he's now had six in his last nine games, averaging 15.0 points and 9.4 boards during that stretch. He's always been an elite positional rebounder but hasn't always been used that way in the NBA. However, he's clearly being unleashed to use his size now.
If you're looking for other props, I mentioned a few I'm looking at in my Game 1 reaction piece. Two I've got my eye on, in particular, are Max Strus over 1.5 3s and Jamal Murray over 6.5 assists.
Bet: Michael Porter Jr. to Record Double-Double (+225 · DraftKings)
The Nuggets Can Make This a Quick, Easy Series
As Matt Moore wrote after Game 1, the scary thing about that pretty straightforward, easy victory is that Denver didn't even play its A-game.
The Nuggets shot under 30% on 3s. They weren't able to get out in transition. All things considered, even at the glacial pace, just 104 Denver points is a win for Miami.
The Nuggets also lapsed mentally to start the fourth quarter, giving up a quick 11-0 run. But even with all that, Denver was +22 outside that brief moment of insanity. The Nuggets might just be way bigger and way better.
I trust Denver to win and lean toward another Nuggets cover. Remember, Miami never covered for a single second past the five-minute mark of the second quarter in Game 1.
A 2-0 series lead puts everything on Game 3 back in Miami, but I have to believe the Nuggets are still favored in that game. And if Denver's shots are falling and the offense is whirring, there's a real chance the Nuggets could just win with ease again. That certainly won't be easy, but it's within the range of outcomes — and it probably sets up a sweep.
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 10+ a third straight time.
I price a sweep around 26%, so it's fairly priced at books 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.
This bet is found under "Milestones" at DraftKings.
Bet: Nuggets Win Series 4-0 and Win Every Hame by 10+ Points (+2200 · DraftKings)
Anderson's Game 2 Betting Card
- Nuggets 1Q -2.5
- Bet Nuggets Live Late in Close Game
- Michael Porter Jr. Double-Double (+225)
- Nuggets Win Every Game of Sweep by 10+ Points (+2200)