2023 NBA Finals Preview
The stage is set. The last two teams are ready to play in the 2023 NBA Finals starting Thursday, June 1st. The Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat have never played against each other in the Finals before. But that’s no surprise since the Nuggets have never made an appearance in the Finals in their 46 years as a franchise. So there’s one milestone taken care of for Denver. Now can they keep it going? The Heat are only the second team in NBA history to make it to the Finals as a No. 8 seed. This is one for the books no matter what happens.
These two teams played twice during the season which could indicate how the matchup will go, but those two games were close so it doesn’t really help:
- Dec. 30, 2022 – Nuggets 124, Heat 119
- Feb. 13, 2023 – Nuggets 112, Heat 108
The Nuggets came onto the Finals with the best record in the Western Conference. The Heat squeaked into the playoffs through the Play-In Tournament. But they took out the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in five games. What’s to stop them from beating No. 1 seed Denver? Although I’m not sure whether to praise the Heat for beating the Celtics or condemning them for blowing a 3-0 series lead and needing a seventh game to finish them off.
They will be a tired, battered, and bruised team that has to fly to Denver to take on a rested and confident group to start this series. If it stretches out, it will be in Denver’s favor. Can the Heat get a couple of quick wins to build their confidence and get the Nuggets questioning their abilities? It’s doubtful but anything’s possible in the playoffs.
NBA Finals 2023 Betting Action
Moneyline Nuggets (-400), Heat (+300)
In the Nuggets/Lakers series, the teams were closer to even money. Half the critics thought the Lakers would win. Denver swept them in four games. The Nuggets are no longer underestimated it seems, so make sure to put your limits in for this series.
Jokić got his eighth triple-double of the postseason in the Lakers series. That beat Wilt Chamberlain’s record of seven which has held for 56 years. He’s averaging 29.9 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 10.3 assists so far this postseason.
Jimmy Butler of the Heat has averaged 28.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 5.7 assists during the 2023 playoffs. He’s been the powerhouse for the Heat and the reason they’re in the Finals. Some basketball fans will be happy no matter who wins. One of their favorite players will get the ring.
Finals MVP Odds
Jokić was a frontrunner to win the MVP award this season which would have been his third straight. That ended up going to Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers. But Jokić is still the top bet to win the Finals MVP.
Nikola Jokić -303
Jimmy Butler +333
Jamal Murray +1100
Bam Adebayo +6000
Michael Porter Jr. +15000
Aaron Gordon +20000
Offense vs. Defense
Denver is known for their great offense while Miami has done amazing things with their defense to get this far. If they can somehow get in the way of Denver’s power offense, they might be able to surprise everyone. Jokić and Murray seem to be an unstoppable force at this point but Miami did overcome a couple of double-digit deficits to beat the Milwaukee Bucks, so they don’t give up easily.
Which Nugget will defend against Butler? Will it be Aaron Gordon? Butler is too strong for most guards and too quick for most forwards. The 6-foot 8-inch Gordon had to defend against 7-foot tall Karl-Anthony Towns in the first round and LeBron James in the last round, and he did all right. He should be able to slow down the 6-foot 7-inch Butler.
The most likely Miami player to cover Jović will be Adebayo. He has a size disadvantage at 6-foot 9-inches, 255 pounds to Jović’s 6-foot 11-inches and 284 pounds but he’s one of the best defenders in the NBA.
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