Miami thumps C’s in G7, is a generous ‘dog in G1 at Denver

After falling behind 9-4 early in the first quarter of Monday’s Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals at Boston, Miami (57-45 straight up, 44-54-2 against the spread) went on a 34-12 run to take a 38-21 lead en route to a 103-84 win.

Erik Spoelstra’s team advanced to the NBA Finals for the sixth time in his 15-year tenure as a 7.5-point road underdog, hooking up money-line supporters with a +240 payout. Caesars and FanDuel had the Heat at +410 odds to win the series prior to Game 1.

Caleb Martin and Jimmy Butler were the catalysts last night. Martin produced 26 points, 10 rebounds, one steal and three assists compared to only one turnover. He buried 11-of-16 field-goal attempts and 4-of-6 launches from 3-point range.

Butler added 28 points, seven rebounds, three steals and six assists compared to just one turnover. Bam Adebayo finished with 12 points, 10 boards, seven assists and one blocked shot, while Gabe Vincent contributed 10 points and four assists. Duncan Robinson was also in double figures with 10 points, draining 4-of-6 FGAs and 2-of-3 shots from downtown.

Boston got off to an inauspicious start on the game’s opening possession when Jayson Tatum turned his ankle after drawing a foul on Vincent. He played through it for 41-plus minutes, but the former one-and-done player at Duke didn’t have the usual lift on his jumper. Tatum had 14 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and one steal, but he wasn’t as aggressive as usual in going 5-of-13 on FGAs.

Jaylen Brown produced 19 points, eight boards, five assists, two blocked shots and one steal, but he coughed up eight of his team’s 15 turnovers, made only 8-of-23 FGAs and was an abysmal 1-of-9 from 3-point territory. (For one of the NBA’s elite guards, Brown really needs to work on his ball handling in the offseason. Seriously, dude needs to have his right hand tied behind his back working on his left for the first 30-45 minutes of every trip to the gym this summer.)

Derrick White was also in double figures with 18 points but for the first time in the series, the ‘under’ cashed on his prop for 3-pointers made (2.5) when he hit just 2-of-9 from beyond the arc. Nevertheless, he was the reason Boston improbably rallied from a 3-0 deficit to force a Game 7.

After missing Game 6 with a forearm injury, Malcolm Brogdon gave it a go in Game 7 but was ineffective. He played only seven minutes, missing all three of his shots from the field.

The Celtics went 0-of-10 from long distance in the first quarter and made merely 9-of-42 three-point attempts for the game (21%).

Instead of becoming the first team in postseason history to win a series after digging a three-game hole, Miami becomes only the second No. 8 seed to advance to the NBA Finals.

Denver (65-32 SU, 54-43 ATS) awaits the Heat in the Mile High City, where it goes into Thursday’s series opener with nine days of rest. Shortly after last night’s game went final, DraftKings opened the Nuggets as 8.5-point favorites with a total of 218.5.

As of Tuesday morning, most spots had Denver at -8.5 (Circa was at -9) with the total adjusted up to 219 or 219.5. The Heat were in the +300 to +320 range on the money line.

For the series, the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas has the Nuggets as -400 favorites, with the Heat at +300 on the comeback.

According to a report from TNT’s Chris Haynes, Miami’s Tyler Herro is expected to return soon with Game 3 being the most likely target. Herro broke his hand in the first half of the series opener vs. Milwaukee in opening round of the playoffs on April 16. In 67 regular-season contests, he averaged 20.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game.

Denver owns a 42-7 SU record and a 31-18 ATS mark in 49 home games this season, while Miami is 23-28 SU and 22-27-1 ATS in 51 road assignments. However, the Heat own a 9-2 ATS record in 11 games as an underdog of 7.5 points or more this year. Meanwhile, the Nuggets are 14-15 ATS in 29 games when favored by at least 7.5 points.

These teams met twice during the regular season. In the first encounter at Denver on Dec. 30, the Nuggets won a 124-119 decision as four-point home ‘chalk.’ The 243 combined points went ‘over’ the 224.5-point total.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope paced eight Nuggets in double figures with a team-best 20 points. He made all seven of his shots from the field, went 4-of-4 from 3-point territory and drained both of his free-throw attempts. Nikola Jokic had a triple-double with 19 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists.

Martin didn’t play for the Heat, who were led by Herro’s 26 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Adebayo finished with 22 points, seven boards, four steals, two assists and a pair of blocked shots, while Butler added 17 points, eight assists, six rebounds and four steals.

In the next meeting on Feb. 13 in South Florida, Denver captured a 112-108 victory as a one-point road favorite. The 220 combined points hurdled ‘over’ the 217-point tally. (The ‘over’ has cashed in each of the last five head-to-head meetings between these clubs.)

Jokic led seven double-figure scorers with 27 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists without a turnover. He knocked down 12-of-14 FGAs and made all three of his FTAs. Michael Porter Jr. added 17 points and six boards, while Bruce Brown scored 16 points. Jamal Murray did not play due to an injury.

Miami was without Herro, Kyle Lowry and Duncan Robinson. Butler had 24 points, 10 rebounds, one steal and nine assists compared to only one turnover in the losing effort. Max Strus finished with 23 points, seven rebounds and four assists, while Adebayo contributed 19 points but had only two rebounds. Vincent had 15 points and four assists before fouling out.

For Thursday’s Game 1 on ABC at 8:30 p.m. Eastern, Denver is -5 for first-half bets with a total of 112. For first-quarter wagers, the Nuggets are favored by three with a total of 56.

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