With 2-1 lead in NBA Finals, Nuggets favored by 3.5 in Game 4 at Miami

With 2-1 lead in NBA Finals, Nuggets favored by 3.5 in Game 4 at Miami

Denver (67-33 straight up, 56-44 against the spread) bounced back to win last night’s Game 3 at Miami, 109-94, to take a 2-1 series lead in the NBA Finals. Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray were the catalysts, becoming the first two players from the same team to record 30-point triple-doubles in the same game.

That had never been done before. Not in the regular season, not in the playoffs and not in the NBA Finals. Never in NBA history until last night.

Jokic became the first player in NBA Finals history to produce at least 30 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists. He went ‘over’ on his three props for points scored (32), rebounds (21) and assists (10). The two-time NBA MVP added two blocked shots, hit 12-of-21 field-goal attempts and made 7-of-8 free throws.

Murray scored 34 points, dished out 10 assists and pulled down 10 rebounds. He drained 12-of-22 FGAs, 3-of-6 launches from 3-point land and 7-of-8 free throws.

Denver head coach Michael Malone called it, “By far their greatest performance as a duo in their seven years together.”

The Nuggets covered the spread as 3.5-point road favorites, while the 203 combined points dropped ‘under’ the 213-point total. The Heat covered as a small underdog in the first quarter, but Denver was a winner for first-half bets when it took a five-point lead into the break.

Malone’s team finished the first half on an 11-4 run. Denver extended its lead to 19 points at one point late in the third quarter.

Miami responded with a 7-0 run, but the Nuggets answered with a 9-2 rally keyed by back-to-back buckets from Christian Braun. The rookie out of Kansas finished with 15 points, four rebounds, one assist and one steal in 19 minutes of playing time.

Miami only closed the deficit to single digits once the rest of the way, and that didn’t happen until Duncan Robinson hit a trey with 1:22 remaining.

Aaron Gordon had 11 points, 10 rebounds, one steal and five assists compared to zero turnovers. Denver’s bench players were solid. In addition to Braun’s performance (7-of-8 FGAs made), Jeff Green made both of his shots from the field and Bruce Brown contributed five points, three blocked shots and two rebounds.

Michael Porter Jr. continued to struggle and got only 21 minutes of PT. He managed two points and seven rebounds, making just 1-of-7 FGAs.

Porter had 14 points and 13 boards in Game 1, extending his streak of scoring in double figures to nine games. Since then, however, he’s been held to seven combined points in the last two contests. Porter has made just 3-of-19 attempts (15.8%) from long distance in the series.

In the losing effort for the Heat, Jimmy Butler scored 28 points and handed out four assists. Bam Adebayo finished with 22 points, 17 rebounds, one block and three assists without a turnover. Caleb Martin had 10 points, three boards, three assists and a pair of steals.

Miami made just 11-of-35 hoists from downtown (31.4%) and 34-of-92 FGAs (37.0%). After scoring in double digits in six straight games, Gabe Vincent was limited to seven points on 2-of-10 shooting from the field. He had zero assists in 32 minutes of action.

Max Strus, who went 0-of-10 on FGAs in a Game 1 loss, went 1-of-7 on FGAs. He was held to only three points but to his credit, Strus did have four rebounds, one block, one steal and five assists without a turnover.

Denver dominated the boards with a 58-33 rebounding advantage.

“I’m just glad that we won the game,” Jokic said. “It was a big one for us because they won in our arena. We just didn’t want to go down 2-1.”

For Friday’s Game 4 at 8:30 p.m. Eastern, most books have the Nuggets installed as 3.5-point road ‘chalk’ with the total down to 210.5. The Heat are +135 to +140 on the money line.

The updated series price has Denver at -900, with Miami at +600 on the comeback. FanDuel has Jokic as a -1000 favorite to win NBA Finals MVP honors, while Butler and Adebayo share 12/1 odds.

Jokic is also favored (-125 price at FanDuel) to score the most points in Game 4. Butler has the next-shortest odds (+290) and is followed by Murray (+310) and Adebayo (12/1).

I’ve successfully backed Jokic’s points scored prop to go ‘over’ in the last two games. Most spots had that number at 27.5 and 28.5 for Games 2 and 3, respectively.

Although the books have adjusted Jokic’s total to 30.5 for Game 4, I’m taking it to go ‘over’ again anyway.

My lean is to Miami at +3.5 tomorrow night. It’s not a big opinion, though. I’d like to be able to take a bigger position if Denver gets out to a lead early and the Heat become available on the live line at +7 or better.

Game 5 is scheduled for Monday back in Denver. Games 6 and 7 are scheduled for Thursday and Sunday in Miami and Denver, respectively, if necessary.

Leave a Reply