NBA Finals Odds, Picks, Predictions: Moore’s Bets for Heat vs Nuggets (Sunday, June 4)

NBA Finals Odds, Picks, Predictions: Moore’s Bets for Heat vs Nuggets (Sunday, June 4) article feature image
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  • The Denver Nuggets opened the NBA Finals with a convincing win, but the Miami Heat have proven to be a difficult team to dismiss.
  • Matt Moore has multiple betting predictions for Sunday’s matchup, including a first half moneyline bet and player props.
  • Check out the updated NBA Finals odds and his bets for Heat vs. Nuggets Game 2.

Heat vs. Nuggets Odds

8 p.m. ET
ABC
Spread: Nuggets -8.5 | Total: 216.5

The Nuggets struck gold first in the NBA Finals, taking Game 1 behind what was a dominant effort from Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, but a B-game from the team as a whole. The good news for Miami is that the Heat can play much better. The bad news? So can the Nuggets.

Facing the possibility of an 0-2 deficit and needing to win four of five from a team that's lost three times total in the playoffs, the Heat are likely to throw the kitchen sink, or at least the garbage disposal, at Denver.

I'm expecting some key changes in the Game 2 game script and am betting accordingly. Here's my betting card for Game 2 of the NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and the Denver Nuggets.

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OVER 215.5 (-110)

The total moved down a full 4.5 points from the Game 1 closing line of 219 and opened at 214.5 for Game 2. Typically, I'm concerned with taking an over in this spot as the market adjusting like this is rare.

A move of three or more points in the Finals before Game 6 (when totals tend to fall off a cliff) has only happened 14 times since 2003. In those instances, the under is 10-4.

But in this specific spot, under these specific circumstances, I'm betting the over.

The pace in Game 1 was glacial, tied for the second-lowest pace of any Nuggets game in the playoffs. That's not surprising as both these teams know transition offense is doom for them and worked extremely hard to try and slow the game down.

However, even with both teams having slow intentions, the pace was exacerbated by some factors. Denver had a 78th percentile turnover rate among all games this season, via Cleaning The Glass. Miami was 93rd percentile. They simply did not turn the ball over, and turnovers feed pace.

Second, the Heat generated just two free throws, largely of their own accord. They chose the jumpshots Denver gave them over and over. Well, Jimmy Butler has clearly stated his intentions to get to the rim and the line in Game 2.

In games this postseason when the Heat have taken less than 15 free throws, the under is 3-0. In games with 15 or more, the over is 11-7.

Game 1 was a bad rest spot for the Heat, a team coming off a Game 7 with less than 48 hours in altitude. As someone who lives in Colorado, those first 48 hours are the worst. You get hydrated and by day three, you start to acclimate.

Miami's shooting was a big talking point in Game 1 with Max Strus and Duncan Robinson going 1-of-14 from 3-point range. (It should be noted that the other Heat went 50% from 3.)

Conversely, Denver's Michael Porter Jr. went 1-of-8 on uncontested looks, and the rest of Denver's offense was largely sustainable. If Miami does a better job defensively, it will mean turnovers, which pushes pace. If Miami spends more energy contesting shots, Denver is likely to win the second-chance battle. The Nuggets only had seven second-chance points in Game 1 when they average 12 per game.

Add all this up, and I think the market overreacted to Game 1. This will be a slow series. I thought the Game 1 total was too high, but this is an overreaction that has given us a chance to come back the other way.

The market agrees and the total is up a full point to 215.5. I like it to 217.

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Heat 1H Moneyline +225 (FanDuel)

Denver is undefeated at home in the postseason. Denver is the better team with the best player in a place it hasn't lost this postseason and has a huge set of matchup advantages.

That said … Denver has trailed at the half in their past two Game 2's at home. The Nuggets are 1-4 ATS in 1st half spreads at home outside of Game 1's in the playoffs.

I wrote after Game 1 that Denver can play better than it did in Game 1. That's true and the Nuggets likely will play better over the course of the series.

But in talking to various league personnel, there's a sense Miami is likely to throw the kitchen sink at the Nuggets in Game 2. The Heat started throwing the zone defense in the 4th, and it had some success. Denver shredded the zone in the non-Jokic minutes in Game 1, but the starters struggled.

Denver will solve that as the series goes on — they were the No.1 team vs. zone in the regular season and playoffs. But it might take a little time.

We're likely to see Kevin Love and more Haywood Highsmith in Game 2.

Plus, Denver is unlikely to get as many easy buckets as it got in Game 1 with Aaron Gordon brutalizing smaller defenders.

That said … Denver won all those games it didn't cover at home. The Nuggets tend to figure things out and have more ways to win. Getting +225 to edge the Nuggets over the first 24 minutes, with Denver's second unit likely to bleed again, is a bet worth making. The full game side? No thanks.

I don't mind betting the +5.5 (FanDuel) 1st-Half spread, either, but I strongly recommend betting the moneyline for better value.


Michael Porter Jr. Over 8.5 Rebounds (+115, FanDuel)

Michael Porter Jr. had 14 boards in Game 1, and his rebound total went up by … one.

Let's say the Heat decide to play more Haywood Highsmith and add Kevin Love to the rotation. Love has the size and is a good rebounder, but isn't as athletic or tall, and Highsmith is still 6-5. There's no chance for these guys to consistently get offensive rebounds against the Nuggets' size.

Porter Jr. will also be crucial to the zone adjustment. He missed shots against it in Game 1, but he'll remain on the floor (and therefore be available for rebound chances) in Game 2.

Pick: Michael Porter Jr. Over 8.5 Rebounds


Jimmy Butler Over 25.5 Points (-115, DraftKings)

The general media reaction to Jimmy Butler's Game 1 was … confusion. It was baffling to watch him pass out of switches vs. Jamal Murray and open drives in space. It was genuinely confusing seeing him casually defer.

I don't expect that in Game 2. There's been discussion that he's injured, but he didn't look limited in Game 1. He just saw ghosts. That's extremely uncommon for Butler.

Butler has averaged less than 25 points per game since the first round (when he averaged 38 thanks to his 56-point game).

So in the Finals, when he's going to play 42-plus minutes in a desperation spot, we have a line a half point over his diminished average from the past two rounds.

He's going to get to the line. I'd expect between eight and 12 free throws in Game 2. That means only needing 18 points otherwise.

If Butler doesn't go over, Miami is losing. If he goes over, Miami's chances go up considerably, so a same-game parlay with the Heat moneyline and Butler's over (+438 at FanDuel) has some value.


Gabe Vincent Over 16.5 Points and Assists (-110, FanDuel)

I should have played this over in Game 1, and I'm correcting that mistake as this line hasn't adjusted significantly.

The Nuggets can't play two-on-ball vs. every Miami ballhandler. They played a healthy amount of drop, and Vincent will get space. He's more comfortable taking pull-up jumpers vs. those lineups than Butler is. Denver will dare Vincent, and he will oblige.

Also, when the Nuggets do play two-on-ball in pick and roll, being able to jump pass over two defenders is key. Vincent can throw laser ball reversals, which is the best way to punish Denver's scheme.

Throw in what should be better shooting from Max Strus and Duncan Robinson, and this number is one of my favorites in Game 2.


Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Over 9.5 Points (+102, FanDuel)

A half-unit play on a bounce-back performance. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was frustrated in Game 1. But throughout the playoffs, when teams have gotten hit in the face by the Jamal Murray-Nikola Jokic two-man game, their adjustments tend to leave Caldwell-Pope with more opportunities.

Max Strus, Gabe Vincent and Kyle Lowry had the most matchup minutes on Caldwell-Pope. He should be able to get clean looks coming off Jokic dribble hand-offs and will likely wind up with more transition 3's if I'm right that the pace picks up in this game.

Pick: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Over 10.5 Points

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