Heat vs Nuggets NBA Finals Preview and Free Pick [Game 1]

Miami (0-0) at Denver (0-0)
When: Thursday, June 1st 2023
Where: Ball Arena,
Denver, CO

Time: 8:30 ET | TV: ABC
Opening Odds: Denver -6/218.5

The Denver Nuggets patiently awaited the winner of the Eastern Conference finals for the last week and now have their opponent lined up. The surprising and eight-seeded Miami Heat will visit Denver on Thursday night for Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Game 2 will be Sunday before the series shifts to South Beach next week. The Nuggets are overwhelming favorites to not only win Game 1 (-9), but are -455 to capture their first ever championship. This is also the first time Denver has made it this far after years of frustrating playoff exits.


The Heat may be the 8-seed but they are playing like a 1. They knocked-off top-seeded Milwaukee and second-seeded Boston in seven games. Miami is +325 to win the series, but that’s nothing new to them. They have been proving critics and oddmakers wrong for the last two months. The Heat are 5-1 straight-up in their last six games as an underdog, so nine points is nothing to them.

The Nuggets are 9-1 ATS in their last 10 meetings against the Heat, including a season-sweep this year. Actually, the lone ATS cover Miami has against Denver in the last 10 meetings came in the 2020 Orlando bubble. The latest meeting came back in February, a 112-108 Denver victory in Miami, while the first meeting was in December – a 124-119 Nuggets win as a -4 favorite.

Miami is coming off a very emotional and roller coaster series against the Celtics. Boston almost made history by becoming the first team to come back from a 3-0 series deficit and win. The Heat were 8-point underdogs in Game 7, but easily beat the Celtics 103-84. Jimmy Butler leads the way with 28.5 points a game this postseason, but others have played well also. Caleb Martin is averaging 14.1 points per game, while Bam Adebayo is at 16.8. Miami has surrendered just 107.4 points a contest, but Denver will be a real test.

One of the questions surrounding the Nuggets right now is rust. When they take the court on Thursday night, it will have been eight days since Denver eliminated the Los Angeles Lakers. I don’t believe rust will play a factor. This team is dynamic offensively and led by the best player in the game right now – Nikola Jokic. He is averaging a triple-double this postseason and has plenty of offensive support around him. Jamal Murray is averaging 27.7 points in the playoffs, while four others are averaging at least 11 per game.

I can’t come out and say that Denver will obviously win this series, because Miami has proven everyone wrong so far. Remember, they were the No. 1 seed last year and have the same team and brilliant coach. You almost have to take the points when Miami is an underdog this postseason, especially this many points. It won’t be easy, but I believe Miami can hang in there.

Check out who Bobby Babowski has on his Free NBA Picks page for today.

Pick: Heat +9