Thursday’s Top AI Pick
- Over 219 (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook
The Denver Nuggets have cruised to their first-ever NBA Finals as the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. But they will face arguably the best No. 8 seed ever in the Miami Heat, who are appearing in their sixth NBA Finals under head coach Erik Spoelstra.
Denver is a heavy favorite to win the series behind superstar Nikola Jokic, but you can never count out Jimmy Butler and the Heat.
We have our top pick for Game 1 of the Heat vs. Nuggets series, after checking in with the computer predictions from OddsTrader.
Thursday, June 01, 2023 – 08:30 PM EDT at Ball Arena
Heat Makes History in Boston
While it was not easy, the Heat avoided becoming the first team in NBA history to blow a 3-0 lead in a best-of-7 series against the Boston Celtics. The Heat were the first team ever to even play a road Game 7 after leading 3-0, but they took control early and won by 19 points in an impressive showing to down the Celtics.
The Heat forced Boston, an offense that attempted the 3rd-most 3-point shots in NBA history this year, into its two worst 3-point shooting games of the season in Games 6 and 7.
While Butler was named the Conference Finals MVP, Caleb Martin was outstanding in the series for Miami, a team getting incredible contributions from a bevy of undrafted players right now.
Denver Cruises to Finals
A lot of chatter coming out of Denver is the disrespect card in how the media continues talking about teams like the Suns and Lakers losing instead of praising the top-seeded Nuggets for winning.
Some fans are also pointing out that Denver’s path to the title could be through two No. 8 seeds, a No. 7 seed, and a No.4 seed. However, you could just as easily argue the Lakers, Heat, and Suns were far better teams than their seeds usually suggest, with the presence of multiple Hall of Famers in LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Jimmy Butler, and coach Spoelstra.
Nuggets’ Star Players
Denver will have done everything it could to truly earn this title by winning the competitive West and sweeping the Lakers in the Conference Finals. The offense has been incredible in the postseason, and Jokic is set to make history with the most triple-doubles in a single postseason.
It also turns out that Jamal Murray was a missing ingredient from these last two postseasons, as the team is back to doing great things in the playoffs with him, his first playoffs since the 2020 bubble.
If you enjoy basketball and gamers like Jokic and Butler, then you should be excited about this series.
- Miami is 13-5 ATS (72.2%) this postseason, the best spread record in the NBA postseason since the 2020 Heat were 16-5 (76.2%).
- The Heat are 7-6 SU and 10-3 ATS this season as an underdog of 7-plus points.
- Miami has already won six games after trailing by double digits this postseason.
- The over is 18-11 (62.1%) in games where Miami is a road underdog, the 5th-highest over rate in the league this year.
- Denver is 14-7-1 ATS (66.7%) with a rest advantage, the best record in the NBA this season.
- Denver is 30-18-1 ATS (62.5%) at home, the 2nd-best record in the league.
- The home team has won 23 of the last 27 Game 1s in the NBA Finals.
- In the playoffs, 12 of Denver’s 15 games have gone over 219 points.
Could Denver Be Rusty?
For Game 1, a lot of the debate will be about Denver being a rested or rusty team. The Nuggets swept the Lakers, so they had 10 days to prepare for this game at home, a tough place to play with the altitude.
But the Heat needed all seven games to get rid of the Celtics, so they enter Thursday night with a big rest disadvantage. The Heat were 6-10-1 ATS with a rest disadvantage this year.
Denver is 8-0 at home this postseason, so it will be a tough matchup for the Heat. But Miami is 9-2 in Game 1s in the Butler era, so they are used to being in tough situations to start a series.
Our AI computer pick likes Denver (-8.5) to win a close one where Miami still covers, but we agree that the best value is in the total going over at -110 betting odds.
Butler and Jokic Stay Hot in Game 1
Our computer sees the Nuggets prevailing 115-109, giving Miami yet another cover and the game to go over 219 points – like 80% of Denver’s playoff games have this year.
The Heat were the lowest-scoring team in the NBA’s regular season, but they also had the most injuries of any team in the playoff field. We have seen much better offensive play from the Heat in the playoffs, and the Nuggets have been the No. 1 offense in most categories in the postseason, and they are even better at home.
Denver won 124-119 in the only meeting between the teams in Denver this season way back in December. The Nuggets needed an 8-point comeback in the fourth quarter of that one.
We could only hope for a game that good this time, but this should be an exciting series between two teams who belong here. Look for the role players to shoot well and to drive this over the total in Game 1.
OddsTrader Predicted Score: Denver Nuggets 115 – Miami Heat 109
NBA Pick: Over 219 (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook