Heat vs. Nuggets Game 2: Trends Favor This Play on Total

Action Network contributor Austin Wang previews how to bet Heat vs. Nuggets, including updated odds, picks and predictions for Sunday's Game 2.

Heat vs. Nuggets Odds

Heat Odds +8.5
Nuggets Odds -8.5
Over/Under 215.5
Time 8 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Denver Nuggets started the NBA Finals with a bang, defeating the Miami Heat in Game 1 by the score of 104-93. The final margin doesn’t accurately represent the Nuggets’ dominance — they had a 21-point lead going into the fourth quarter before the Heat made a push.

Both teams were cold from behind the arc as the Heat were 13-for-39 (33.3%) and the Nuggets were 8-for-27 (29.6%). Another interesting note is that Miami only attempted two free throws, the fewest in NBA playoff history!

There were lots of narratives at play entering Game 1. The Heat were coming off a tough, seven-game series against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals while many wondered if the Nuggets would benefit from nine days of rest or suffer from rust.

Here’s a preview of Nuggets vs. Heat Game 2, plus my betting pick on the total.

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Miami Heat

Miami’s shooting has been incredible all postseason, leaving analysts and fans to wonder when — or if — regression would hit. Well, it happened in Game 1.

Caleb Martin, Max Strus and Duncan Robinson went a combined 2-for-23 from the field. The Heat definitely looked like a team that played a seven-game series, traveled across the country on short rest and played in the Denver altitude. After a couple of days to regroup, can their shooters bounce back?

On a positive note, Haywood Highsmith, another undrafted gem discovered by the Heat, emerged as an unlikely X factor as he played well on both ends of the floor.

Bam Adebayo was another one of the few bright spots for the Heat. He was aggressive and scored at will, racking up 26 points and 13 rebounds. It seemed like the Nuggets’ game plan was to have Adebayo beat them instead of their shooters. His excellence offset an ineffective showing from Jimmy Butler, who ended up with 13 points on 6-for-14 shooting from the field. An ailing right ankle and fatigue seems to have slowed Butler.

Tyler Herro could make his return from a fractured right hand in Game 2, so keep tabs on that potential development. While the Heat have fared well without him, his ability to score could be crucial to match the output of the Nuggets. Also worth noting is that Martin did not participate in practice on Saturday due to an illness.

Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets are an incredible 43-7 straight up (SU) and 31-18-1 against the spread (ATS) at home this season. In the playoffs, they are 9-0 SU and 6-1 ATS. Denver has won and covered all three matchups against Miami this season.

Nikola Jokic was amazing, as expected. He began Game 1 as the primary facilitator and tallied 10 assists in the first half.  He found his teammates for easy baskets as Denver built an early lead. He took over the scoring in the second half and finished with a 27-point triple-double.

The Nuggets primarily did their damage inside. Aaron Gordon used his size to bully his way into the paint and dominate smaller defenders. Even Michael Porter Jr. got easy shots against this smaller Heat team.

Heat-Nuggets Pick

I have a stat to debunk the typical zig-zag theory. Favorites of 3.5 points or more off a win are 134-93-4 (59.0%) since the 2015-2016 season, per the SDQL at Killer Sports. The Nuggets looked a class above the Heat in the Game 1 victory, but Miami has defied odds and trends throughout the postseason.

I am looking at the over in the second game of the NBA Finals. In Rounds 2-4, Game 2s have gone 43-25-1 (63.2%) to the over when the first game went under, according to the history of the Killer Sports SDQL database, which dates back to the 2002-2003 season.

The total for Game 1 was 219; for Game 2, it’s been as low as 213.5, but has ticked up to 215.5. I think the offenses should be a lot better in Game 2, with the Heat getting a breather and adjusting to the altitude in Denver. The Nuggets should be sharper from outside after shaking off the rust.

Nerves were high in Game 1, which resulted in a low-scoring game. The total dropping so dramatically is an overadjustment, in my opinion. I recommend a play on the over at 215.5, and I would play it up to 216.

Pick: Over 215.5 (-112) | Play to 216