After notching a decisive Game 7 victory over the Boston Celtics, the Miami Heat will play in their seventh NBA Finals matchup since 2005-2006 when they take on the Denver Nuggets in Game 1 on Thursday. The Heat (44-38), the eighth-seed in the East, are 12-6 in the 2023 NBA playoffs. The Nuggets (53-29), the No. 1 seed in the West, are coming off a four-game sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference finals. Denver is 12-3 this postseason and is making its first-ever NBA Finals appearance. Denver leads the all-time regular-season series 38-34, and have won nine of the past 10 matchups.
Tip-off from Ball Arena in Denver is set for 8:30 p.m. ET. The Nuggets are 9-point favorites in the latest Heat vs. Nuggets odds from Caesars Sportsbook, while the over/under for total points scored is 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 honed working for Pro Football Focus. Larry tied for 52nd place (out of 1,598 entries) in the 2022 Westgate Las Vegas SuperContest, going 53-34-3 ATS (61%). Those selections formed the basis of his SportsLine NFL best bets article, which finished 36-25-1.
Hartstein also excels in MLB, college basketball and the NBA, especially when picking Denver Nuggets games. Over the past 97 Denver matchups, he is 57-37-3 against the spread (plus $1,635 for $100 players, every bet 1 unit).
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 Heat vs. Nuggets:
- Heat vs. Nuggets spread: Nuggets -9
- Heat vs. Nuggets over/under: 219 points
- Heat vs. Nuggets 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
- Heat vs. Nuggets picks: See picks at SportsLine
Why the Nuggets can cover
Denver center Nikola Jokic has been scalding hot this postseason, registering five triple-doubles over the past six playoff games. In the Game 4 win over the Lakers, Jokic scored 30 points, while grabbing 14 rebounds and dishing out 13 assists with three blocks and a steal. He has scored fewer than 20 points just once in the playoffs, and registered a 53-point effort in a Game 4 loss at Phoenix in the Western Conference semifinals. In 15 postseason games this year, Jokic is averaging 29.9 points, 13.3 rebounds, 10.3 assists and 1.1 steals.
Point guard Jamal Murray has continued his solid play, averaging 32.5 points per game in the four-game sweep of Los Angeles. In 15 postseason games, he is connecting on 48% of his field goals, including 39.8% of his 3-pointers and 92.5% of his free throws. He registered a double-double with 37 points and 10 rebounds in a 108-103 Game 2 win over the Lakers. For the postseason, he is averaging 27.7 points, 6.1 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 1.7 steals. See which team to pick here.
Why the Heat can cover
Small forward Jimmy Butler has carried Miami to the NBA Finals, 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.