Nuggets open 2023 NBA Finals as 8.5-point favorites over Heat


The Denver Nuggets (65-32, 53-43-1 ATS) will enter Game 1 of the 2023 NBA Finals this Thursday as 8.5-point favorites at home over the Miami Heat (57-45, 44-55-3 ATS). Denver is making its first appearance in the NBA Finals in franchise history.

Meanwhile, Miami is making its seventh NBA Finals appearance and first since 2020. The Heat reached their first championship series in 2006. Their seven Finals appearances are the most in the NBA during that span.

According to a few NBA betting sites, Nuggets center Nikola Jokic is the odds-on favorite to win Finals MVP. Check out which sportsbooks are also showing favorable odds for Jamal Murray.

Denver is 9-1 in its last 10 matchups against the Heat, including winning the last six straight games. The Heat also failed to cover the spread in all six losses. Miami has not defeated the Nuggets since winning 125-105 away on Aug. 1, 2020.

Additionally, the over/under for Game 1 of the 2023 NBA Finals is set at 219. The point total has gone over in 10 of Miami’s last 13 road games. The Heat are 1-6 in their past seven away meetings at Ball Arena as well. But they’re 5-1 in their previous six encounters versus a Western Conference opponent.

Nuggets open Game 1 of 2023 NBA Finals as 8.5-point favorites at home against Heat; over/under is set at 219

Moreover, the total has gone under in four of Miami’s last five games. While Denver is 4-2 ATS in its past six contests, the total has also gone under in six of the Nuggets’ previous six matchups versus Eastern Conference teams.

Equally important, Miami has won 41 straight playoff games when leading by 10 or more points at halftime, the second-longest streak in NBA history behind the Los Angeles Lakers (63 from 1985-2008). The Heat’s last loss was in 2000 at the New York Knicks.

Furthermore, the Heat are the second No. 8 seed to reach the NBA Finals, joining the Knicks in 1999. The Heat made the Finals with a 44-38 record in the regular season.

The last team to make the Finals with 44 wins and 38 losses were the Washington Bullets in 1978. Of course, the Bullets went on to win the championship in seven games over the Seattle SuperSonics.

Not to mention, Miami is the first play-in team to advance to the Finals. Plus, the Heat are the third team in league history to rank last in PPG (109.5) during the regular season and reach the Finals.

Per ESPN’s Basketball Power Index, the Nuggets have a 77.7% chance of winning Game 1 at home. Denver is 42-7 at home and a perfect 8-0 at Ball Arena this 2023 postseason. However, Denver is only 4-3 away this postseason.

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