The Nuggets took Game 1 of this series with a 104-93 victory before taking an eight-point lead to the fourth quarter in Game 2. However, as they have done so many times this postseason, the Heat rallied for a 111-108 victory to even up the series heading to Miami.
Despite the loss, Nikola Jokic scored 40 points. That may be exactly what the Heat want, though, and I expect another big performance from the two-time MVP in Game 3.
Jokic had to take on more of the scoring burden than he likely would prefer, and he had only four assists in Game 2. One factor that played a role in that is the Heat’s ability to slow down Jamal Murray.
However, Murray had 10 assists, continuing a trend from Game 1. Will the trend continue as the series shifts to Miami?
NBA Finals Player Props Today
Nikola Jokic Over 40.5 Points + Rebounds (-120)
|Time | TV||8:30 p.m. ET | ABC|
Whether or not Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra wants to admit it publicly, he would prefer that Nikola Jokic is a scorer in this series.
The Nuggets are 0-3 this postseason when Jokic has scored 40 points or more. When he has a game like he did Sunday night, it reduces the chances that he, Murray and at least one of Michael Porter Jr. or Aaron Gordon all go off on the same night.
Jokic is still one of the game’s passers, and I would expect more than four assists on Wednesday night. However, Jokic is also a bad matchup for Bam Adebayo.
Jokic has had success against Adebayo in the regular season over the past few years. That has continued in the first two games in this series, as he has averaged 34 points per game. In Game 1, he scored 27 points on just 12 shots. He maintained efficiency in Game 2 and is shooting 16-for-28 from the field.
Overall, he’s shooting 60% from the field and 85% at the free-throw line through the first two games.
Jokic went over this line with just points in Game 2. However, I’m playing this combo because he has not had a dominant performance on the glass yet — well, at least by his standards.
He had 10 rebounds in Game 1, but it took him until one of the final possessions of the game to secure the double-double. He also had 11 rebounds in Game 2, but he’s averaging 12.9 this postseason. He has eight games this postseason with 14 or more.
For Jokic to go over this line, the expectation is in the neighborhood of 30 points and 11 rebounds. However, if he goes slightly under on points, he can still go over this line with a game like 27 points and 14 rebounds or 26 points and 15 rebounds.
Jamal Murray Over 6.5 Assists (-120)
The Heat started Kevin Love in Game 2 to provide more size in the frontcourt. While Love is not regarded as a strong defender, he did offer more resistance to Aaron Gordon, who scored 12 points in the first quarter of Game 1.
More importantly, it allowed Jimmy Butler to spend more time defending Jamal Murray. While Murray was still efficient — he went 7-for-15 from the field — he took seven less shots and scored eight fewer points than in Game 1.
Where he has been consistent is as a facilitator. Murray has had 10 assists in each of the first two games of this series. He’s averaging 19 potential assists and 80 passes per game, according to NBA Stats. Both of those totals are higher than Jokic, who is at 14 potential assists and 72 passes per game.
Miami’s zone limited the effectiveness of the Jokic-Murray two-man game to a degree. Additionally, Butler defending Murray created some tougher shots for him and forced him to pass up others. Those factors could lead to more assists in Game 3.
At 6.5, there’s room for regression if he doesn’t put up 10 assists again. However, another double-digit performance offers some value. You can take Murray to reach 10 assists at +475 on bet365.