NBA Finals Game 2 Preview, Odds, and Prediction

Alex Campbell
FiredUp Network Sports Writer


Sunday, June 4, 2023

The Denver Nuggets will host the Miami Heat tonight for game 2 of the NBA Finals.  Tip-off is scheduled for 8pm at Ball Arena.  

The Nuggets won the series opener 104-93 on Thursday, also at Ball arena.  They came into that game as 9 point home favorites and the Heat struggled in Denver as Vegas predicted. 

The most glaring issue for Miami was that they only shot 2 free throws in game 1, which set an NBA record for fewest attempts in a playoff game.  Jimmy Butler finished with 13 points on 14 shots and the role players that have played so well for the Heat in this run couldn't bring that level of production to game 1 either. Caleb Martin, Max Strus, and Duncan Robinson combined for just 6 points on a woeful 2/23 from the field combined.   In the first 18 playoff games this trio averaged 33.7ppg combined.  Bam Adebayo, in contrast, played his best game of these 2023 playoffs scoring 26 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. If the heat are going to win this game or have a chance in this series, they will need Butler, Martin, Strus, and Robinson to contribute like they did in the first 18 postseason games in this bracket. 

Denver, on the other hand, has been dominant at home in these playoffs, the win on Thursday made them 9-0 at home so far in the postseason.  Nikola Jokic looks downright unstoppable.  He socred 27 points, had 14 rebounds, and 10 assists in game 1 and his side kick Jamal Murray scored 26 of his own.  Aaron Gordon was also instrumental in the game 1 victory, pouring in 16 of his own, and he really led the Nuggets offensively early in that game and set the tone. 

In order for Miami to win they'll need to be far more aggressive on the offensive end and get to the foul line consistently.  Jokic, while incredible on the offensive end, is not a great rim protector.  The Heat should be able to attack in the paint and potentially get the Joker in foul trouble. Butler and the role players are also highly unlikely to have another off night.  Role players traditionally play worse on the road in the playoffs but they should absolutely do better than 6 points combined.  The Heat also may have just 1 more card to play as well, F Tyler Herro's hand injury is healing and progessing ahead of schedule.  Herro has been seen warming up and practicing with the Heat and is said to look great, maybe he could provide the spark Miami needs offensively to steal a victory in game 2.

In order for Denver to win they just have to stay the course.  They've got the first dominant Point Center in NBA history, just let the offense run through him and let Jokic and Murray cook in the Pick n Roll.  Jamal Murray is also making quite a name for himself this postseason, now breaking out of the 'bubble murray' mantra to now becoming known as just 'Playoff Murray'.  And it's true, he's been absolutely sensational and has come up huge for the Nuggest time and again this year.  The Nuggets would also love for one of their role players like Aaron Gordon or Michael Porter Jr to step up early like Gordon did in game 1.  And while role players typically play a little worse on the road, they're normally much better at home in the playoffs.

The Nuggets come into this game as an 8.5 point favorite at home, a half point less than the line in game 1.  Miami also has not beaten the Nuggets since the bubble season, so for 3 years.  To put that into perspective, Jokic has won 2 MVPs since the last time the Heat beat the nuggets and they (the nugs) are also 11-0 ATS in those games.  I ultimately like the Nuggets to win but the Heat to cover in this one.  I think Miami learns their lesson from game 1, comes back rested, and gets to the foul line early and often.  The Heat have been incredibly ressillient against more talented teams in this run, and I wouldn't put it past them to steal game 2 tonight; I just don't think that's likely to happen.  Jokic and the Nuggets are just too good, especially at home.