The Denver Nuggets will look to avoid any rust after more than a week off when they take on the Miami Heat in Game 1 of their 2023 NBA Finals matchup on Thursday. The Heat (44-38), who needed a seventh game to dispose of the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals, are 0-2 this season against Denver. The Nuggets (53-29), who swept the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, have not played since May 22. Denver is seeking its first-ever NBA title, while Miami is looking to win its fourth championship, but first since 2012-2013.
Tipoff from Ball Arena in Denver is set for 8:30 p.m. ET. Denver is allowing 108.1 points per game in the playoffs, while Miami allows 107.4. Denver is a 9-point favorite in the latest Heat vs. Nuggets odds from Caesars Sportsbook, while the over/under for total points scored is set at 219. Before making any Nuggets vs. Heat picks, make sure you check out what proven SportsLine NBA expert Larry Hartstein has to say.
A former lead writer for Covers and The Linemakers, Hartstein combines a vast network of Vegas sources with an analytical approach. He excels in the NBA, especially when picking Denver Nuggets games. Over the past 97 Denver matchups, he is 57-37-3 against the spread, returning $1,635 for $100 players.
Now, Hartstein has set his sights on Heat vs. Nuggets and just locked in his picks and 2023 NBA Finals predictions. You can visit SportsLine now to see Hartstein’s picks. Here are the NBA lines and trends for Nuggets vs. Heat:
- Nuggets vs. Heat spread: Nuggets -9
- Nuggets vs. Heat over/under: 219 points
- Nuggets vs. Heat money line: Heat +310, Nuggets -400
- MIA: The Heat are 9-2 against the spread in their last 11 games following an ATS win
- DEN: The Nuggets are 5-2 ATS in their last seven games playing on three or more days rest
- Nuggets vs. Heat picks: See picks at SportsLine
Why the Nuggets can cover
Denver’s offense continues to revolve around center Nikola Jokic, an MVP finalist this season. He has registered eight triple-doubles during the postseason, including five in the past six games. In the Game 4 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, he dominated, scoring 30 points and adding 14 rebounds, 13 assists and three blocks. Jokic is averaging 29.9 points, well over five points more than he averaged in the regular season. He is also averaging 13.3 rebounds and 10.3 assists this postseason.
Small forward Michael Porter Jr. posted his third double-double of the series in the Game 4 close-out win over the Lakers, scoring 15 points, while adding 10 rebounds, one assist and one block. In Game 3 of the Western Conference finals, he scored 14 points and added 10 rebounds, six assists and a steal. Porter averaged 15 points in the series, and is averaging 14.6 points and eight rebounds in 15 postseason games. He has posted five double-doubles over the past eight games, including a 21-point and 12-rebound effort in the Western Conference semifinals Game 3 loss to the Phoenix Suns. See which team to pick here.
Why the Heat can cover
Small forward Jimmy Butler has carried Miami to the NBA Finals 2023, scoring nearly six points more per game than his season average. In 17 playoff games, Butler is averaging 28.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 2.1 steals per game. In Monday’s close-out win over Boston, Butler scored 28 points, grabbed seven rebounds and had six assists in 43 minutes. He had a double-double with 24 points and 11 rebounds in Game 6. In two regular-season games against Denver this year, Butler averaged 20.5 points, 8.5 assists, eight rebounds and 2.5 steals.
Center Bam Adebayo has also been dominant at times and has registered back-to-back double-doubles. In the Game 6 loss to the Celtics, Adebayo scored 11 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. He followed that up in Game 7 with 12 points and 10 rebounds. He also had seven assists and one block. In 18 postseason games, he is averaging 16.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists and one steal. See which team to pick here.
How to make Heat vs. Nuggets picks
Hartstein is leaning Under on the point total, and he has identified a critical X-factor he says makes one side of the spread a must-back. You can find out what it is, and see which side of the Nuggets vs. Heat spread to back, at SportsLine.
Who wins Heat vs. Nuggets, and what critical X-factor makes one side of the spread a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Heat vs. Nuggets spread you need to jump on Thursday, all from the expert who has returned over $1,600 to $100 players over his last 97 Denver Nuggets picks, and find out.