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NBA Finals

NBA Finals Preview

The 2023 NBA Finals Preview 

With the 2023 NBA finals all but officially set, we take a look at what we’ve learned from both the Denver Nuggets and the Heat and what to look forward to, but before we do, head to our Cross Sport Specials page to check out some of the special offers we have. You can also read about our new feature; the Pick 11 Jackpot Bet here.

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Barring a miracle as epic as 5,000 people being fully fed on just five loaves of bread and two fishes some 2020 years ago, the Miami Heat will be joining the Denver Nuggets in the NBA final with the Larry O’Brien Trophy up for grabs. The Nuggets secured their spot in the finals by sweeping the Lakers, while the Heat currently hold a commanding 3-0 lead over the Boston Celtics. Throughout NBA history, there have been 150 playoff series where a team had a 3-0 lead, and none of those instances resulted in a successful comeback by the trailing team. In fact, only three teams, namely the New York Knicks in 1951, the Denver Nuggets in 1994, and the Portland Trail Blazers in 2003, managed to level the series at 3-3. However, all three teams ultimately lost their respective Game 7 encounters. 

 Guided by their exceptional leader, two-time MVP Nikola Jokić, the Denver Nuggets have followed a predictable path to the finals. Jokić’s remarkable performance, averaging 29.9 points, 13.2 rebounds, and 10.1 assists per game, has placed him in esteemed company as only the fourth player in playoff history to achieve a triple-double average. He joins the ranks of Russell Westbrook (2017 & 2021), Jason Kidd (2007), and Oscar Robertson (1962) in this remarkable feat. Unsurprisingly, he was named the Magic Johnson Western Conference Finals MVP.   

The Miami Heat’s journey to the finals is a testament to their unwavering determination, exceptional coaching, and impressive team chemistry. Spearheaded by six-time All-Star Jimmy Butler, they have achieved a remarkable feat by becoming only the second 8th seed team in NBA history to reach the finals, following the footsteps of the New York Knicks in the shortened 1999 season. Despite being the top seed last year and reaching the conference finals, the Heat faced a challenging regular season this year, finishing as the 8th seed. They had to rely on the play-in tournament to secure their spot in the playoffs, showcasing their resilience and ability to overcome adversity. 


  • Jimmy Butler Is Who He Thinks He Is: This is perhaps the highest praise he might get but the Miami Heat Small Forward seems to have cracked something all-time greats like Tom Brady, LeBron James & Kawhi Leonard have long understood – the playoffs are the ultimate focal point in American sports. We initially witnessed the emergence of “Playoff Jimmy” during the Bubble, where he guided the Heat to their first finals appearance since the LeBron James era. However, they ultimately succumbed to James’ Lakers. Jimmy delivered an impressive performance, scoring a career-high 56 points in Game 4 against the Bucks during the first round, and followed it up with 42 points in Game 5 to secure the victory. He has consistently showcased his dominance over the Celtics, leaving the reigning Eastern Conference champions powerless against him. 
  • Nikola Jokić Should Have Been the MVP (Again): The 28-year-old Center is the best player on the planet, and he’s proving it. In the NBA, there exists a phenomenon known as “Voters Fatigue,” where award voters become weary of repeatedly selecting the same individual. It’s the reason LeBron James only won 4 MVPs in his 20-year career, and it’s the reason Nikola Jokić wasn’t named MVP for the 3rd consecutive year. The award went to Joel Embiid instead, but the Philadelphia Big Man failed to impress in this playoff. Instead, Nikola Jokić has taken his game to yet another level this post-season as he averages a triple-double. As a reward, he’s taken the Nuggets to their first ever finals appearance and could possibly secure the more prestigious finals MVP trophy.  
  • Both Teams Are Tough to Beat In Their Respective Homes: Both of these teams have been impeccable when playing on their home courts during the playoffs. The Nuggets have achieved a flawless record, winning all 8 games at home, while the Heat have also been undefeated in their 6 home games. However, the Nuggets boast a particularly impressive home record that extends beyond the playoffs. During the Regular Season, they only lost 7 out of 41 home games, which ranks as the second-best in the league. Denver – the Mile-High City – sees two of its major sports teams (NBA’s Nuggets & NFL’s Broncos) enjoy a rather unusual home-advantage over because of its high altitude. In 2015, the Nuggets introduced a new home court design featuring the numbers “300” and “5280” engraved near the sideline. The former is a warm celebration of the number of sunny days said to occur in the state each year while the latter – 5280 – is the number in feet of Denver’s altitude and an unnerving reminder that opponents will be become fatigued and struggle to breathe in the city’s thin air. 

    • “Bubble Jamal Murray” Is Back: The Nuggets Guard has had a very disappointing few years but now, he seems to have put that behind him. Jamal Murray was one of the Bubble stars as he and Nikola Jokić led the Nuggets to the Western Conference finals but, an ACL injury saw him miss out on the last 2 seasons. Now, he looks back to his best and continues to post a playoff scoring average higher than some Hall of Famers like Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. 

      • Miami’s Undrafted Players Are Ruthless: Occasionally, a team discovers a remarkable talent among the undrafted players, similar to the Lakers’ finds of Alex Caruso and Austin Reaves. These players are often hidden gems, overlooked by most teams. It is not uncommon for a team to stumble upon one such player, but occasionally, a team strikes lucky and uncovers two. In the case of the Miami Heat, they currently have seven undrafted players on their roster, and four in particular – Gabe Vincent, Duncan Robinson, Caleb Martin, and Max Strus – have showcased nothing short of remarkable performances during this playoff run. The Heat faced substantial criticism for their lack of activity in the trade market, as they were among the three teams that did not make a move before the deadline. However, despite the injury to their 2019 First-Round Draft Pick, Tyler Herro, the Miami Heat’s offense has not missed a beat. Game after game, these undrafted players step up and deliver outstanding performances to get the job done. 
    • Erik Spoelstra is the Best Head Coach in the League: It takes a good coach to get top talents to perform consistently at a high level, but only exceptional coaches can get the not-so-fancied players to do that. Spo remains the x-factor for this Heat side and the series against the Celtics showed just that. The 15-year Miami HC completely out-coached Celtics’ Rookie Head Coach, Joe Mazzulla and has repeatedly made the 34-year-old look like the novice he is. Spoelstra excels at concealing his players’ weaknesses, particularly on the defensive end, while effectively utilizing their strengths. This season, Coach Spoelstra has utilized zone defense to a greater extent than any other coach in the NBA in the past 19 years. This strategic approach has disrupted opposing teams’ offensive flow, particularly in the playoffs, creating difficulties for them to execute their game plans against the Heat. 


Predicting the outcome of the upcoming games is indeed challenging. When considering various factors such as logic, statistics, and historical trends, the Nuggets appear to have an advantage and are favored to win the title. They have demonstrated themselves as the strongest team in the playoffs, particularly excelling at home. With their talented roster, they boast the best lineup in the league, including the best player in the world. Furthermore, they have the added benefit of home court advantage. 

On the other hand, the Heat’s success in this playoff run seems to defy logical expectations. Despite ranking fourth-worst in 3-point accuracy during the Regular Season, having the lowest-rated offense among the 16 playoff teams, and even possessing a negative Points Differential from the Regular Season, they have managed to reach the NBA finals. Historically, teams in similar situations would be expected to have their luck run out. Yet, against all odds, the Miami Heat find themselves just four wins away from a championship. 

Ultimately, the outcome of the games will unfold on the court, and while the Nuggets may be favored, the Heat have shown their resilience and ability to defy expectations. That said, here are a few things that have followed some patterns:  

    • This could be a high-scoring series. In this playoff series, both teams have demonstrated impeccable performance when playing on their respective home courts, but they have experienced setbacks by losing three games each when playing away from home. Surprisingly, they have managed to score higher average points when playing on the road compared to their home games. The Nuggets have been averaging 115.4 points per game at home but have increased their average to 118.3 points on the road. Similarly, the Heat have averaged 113.0 points at home but have seen a rise to 116.3 points on the road.

      • Always pick the home team to win in this series. As explained earlier, both teams are excellent at home, and we highlighted how the Nuggets’ altitude helps them even further. However, there is an additional factor to consider. The Nuggets’ performance on the road is rather average. Throughout the Regular Season, they had more losses than wins when away from home (19-22), and in the current playoffs, their record stands at 4-3. 
    • Line or Handicap Betting for the Nuggets could present some value away from home. During this playoff series, the Nuggets have displayed an extraordinary level of performance, as they have only found themselves trailing by 10 or more points on two occasions, which is truly remarkable. Their largest defeat, which occurred in Game 3 against the Suns, was by a mere 7 points. In comparison, the Heat’s biggest defeat was a 16-point loss against the Bucks in Game 2. Considering the Nuggets’ ability to stay competitive on the road, it is anticipated that they will keep the game close even if they ultimately lose. Therefore, placing a bet with a -5.5 handicap for the Nuggets on the road (meaning they are expected to lose by no more than 5.5 points or potentially win the game) should offer good value for money.

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