NBA Finals game 3 Preview, Odds, & Prediction

Alex Campbell
FiredUp Network Sports Writer


Wednesday, June 7, 2023

It looks like we might just have a series on our hands, ladies and gentlemen.  The Miami Heat upset the Denver Nuggets on Monday 108-111 in game 2, The lead story in Miami's bounceback was Erik Spoelstra's insertion of Kevin Love into the starting lineup.  That change allowed Jimmy Butler to guard Jamal Murray and Butler responded by limiting Murray to under 20 points.  With Bam on Jokic and Jimmy B on Murray, the Heat role players didn't have to leave their assignments to help defend.  That led to less open 3's for Denver, but more opportunites in the paint for Jokic, and he capatilized with 43 points but it wasn't enough to seal the deal. Tonight at 8:30pm EST the Butler/Murray, Jokic/Abedayo, and Spoelstra/Malone matchups will be on full display in Miami.  Those matchups are like the infinity stones of this series, whoever wins the most will win it all.

The most regurgitated stat of the series so far is that the Nuggets are 0-3 when Jokic scores 40 or more points this postseason, including game two.  3 games is a small sample size but there may be something to it.  Take game 1, which the Nuggets dominated, by haltime of that game Jokic had only taken 3 shots and already had 10 assists.  That's Nuggets basketball, when you've got the best passing big man of all time and the NBAs first true Point-center you lean into that skillset and design the entire offense to revolve around it.

Denver is a 2.5 point favorite tonight according to Ceasars' Sportsbook.  The over/under for total points scored is 214.5. The coaching matchup here favors Spoelstra by a considerable margin, but coach Malone is a master motivator and he'll have the Nuggets ready to play with some of his own tricks I'm sure.  I predict this will be a close game like the last.  Max Strus, Gabe Vincent, Duncan Robinson, and Caleb Martin will almost undoubetly play with more confidence at home but Denver is still the more talented and deeper team.  Jimmy Butler hasn't had a "playoff Jimmy" type stat line yet, and tonight at home might be the night we see a classic performance by him. All that said, I expect the Nuggets to win this critical game 3.  But I also expect it to be close, so I'm taking the Heat to cover.