NBA Finals Best Bets: Game 1

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    June 1, 2023

    We have made it to the finish line!

    We’re definitely bruised after a rough conference finals but with a week off, the clear eyes and heads are prevailing, so let’s start Game 1 with some wins!

    Layups: 2-Unit Plays
    Two-Pointers: 1-Unit Plays
    Three-Pointers: 0.75-Unit Plays
    Half-Court Shot: 0.5-Unit Plays

    Record: 44-42 (-3.1 units)


    Jimmy Butler Under 27.5 Points (-118): Despite Jimmy Butler seemingly becoming the second coming of Michael Jordan (at least on Twitter), I’m very excited to fade him in Game 1 tonight. Mainly because the Nuggets will surely put Aaron Gordon on him for most of the game — and Gordon has had a fantastic defensive playoff run.

    So far in this postseason, he’s guarded the likes of Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and Karl-Anthony Towns. Through all that, Gordon ranks 27th in defensive rating in the postseason of guys averaging 25 or more minutes, and his defensive win share number ranks 18th. At home, Gordon’s defensive rating jumps to 21st in the postseason. He’s been tested by the best and succeeded.

    As we saw occasionally against Boston, Jimmy can struggle against bigger defenders and Gordon’s 7-foot wingspan will likely give him issues. He’s averaged 20 points per game in two games against Denver this season and averages 21 points per game on the road. In the playoffs on the road, he averages a bit more at 27 points a game, but that’s still just under this number. Playing at elevation, after an emotional and tolling Game 7, and going against one of the league’s best defenders this postseason, Jimmy should have a tough time getting over this number.

    Miami Heat Team Total Under 104.5 Points (-104): The Heat hit over this number twice in the series against the Celtics: In Game 1, where they shot 51% from three, and in Game 2, where they hit 48 points in the paint and forced 15 turnovers. Against a much longer Denver team, the Heat might really struggle. Denver gives up an average of 103 points per game while at home this postseason, and with defenders like Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon,  a smaller Heat team could really struggle. And I haven’t even mentioned the elevation issue that every team struggles with in Denver!

    The pace of both teams sits smack dab in the middle this postseason, so the pace of play shouldn’t be too much of an issue. I expect the Heat to struggle to get over this number in their first game on the road.


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