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Free NBA Betting Picks - NBA Finals Best Bets, Expert Predictions, Odds

As the calendar turns over to June, we officially welcome the NBA Finals into our lives and I hope you are ready to watch what should be an entertaining series of basketball games.

These two teams couldn't be any different and have had very different paths to the finals. While the Nuggets have been dominant in their run as the top seed in the West, Miami has had to battle as the #8 seed to get here and needed seven games to finally finish off Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Nuggets have been resting for over a week, while the Heat have only had a few days to prepare for tonight's series opener.

In this article, I'll be providing my favorite betting picks for the Nuggets-Heat game that tips off at 8:30 PM EST on Thursday, June 1st. I'll also make my series prediction and suggest some series bets as well. Let's talk some hoops already, while we still can!


NBA Betting Picks: NBA Finals Preview

Miami Heat (+8.5) @ Denver Nuggets (219 total)

Season Series: Denver 2-0

This series is being depicted as a David vs. Goliath matchup with Denver heavily favored (-425) to win the series and their first NBA championship. As someone who has a Nuggets championship ticket at +1000 from way back in January, I very much hope that Denver takes care of business. But discounting the Heat in this series would be a terrible mistake.

Let's not act as if this same nucleus of players didn't go to the NBA Finals in 2020. Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro were still wet behind the ears back then, but Jimmy Butler put this team on his back and defied all odds by getting them to that Finals before the Heat suffered some major injuries and were finished off by LeBron and the Lakers.

And the run that this Miami team has made this year has been as impressive if not more as I remind you they were only a few minutes from being eliminated in the second play-in game against Chicago. I was a bit of a Heat-hater this year as I thought they had clearly taken a step back from 2022 when they gave Boston everything they wanted and more in the ECF. I thought Kyle Lowry was washed, that Butler took too many games off to rest, and that Miami simply didn't have enough firepower to keep up with the big guns in the East.

But I don't think anyone saw the development of Caleb Martin into a legit third option coming. In fact, Miami picked up Kevin Love (I am still upset the Cavs released him) to give them some important minutes at the four and another outside shooting threat so I don't think the Heat even knew what he was capable of doing before that Boston series.

And while Gabe Vincent and Max Strus had important roles throughout the season, often stepping into the starting lineup when needed - not many expected either of them to have huge playoff performances. Heck, Duncan Robinson wasn't even in the rotation for much of the season and now he's out there knocking down threes with confidence as if he had been all year.

It feels like Miami has been playing with house money, but at what point do they come back to reality? I take nothing away from Coach Spoelstra who has his team playing hard every night and who can get the most out of his roster. But it's not easy to pull off this many upsets in a row and Denver should pose the biggest challenge yet for Miami in the postseason.

That biggest challenge has a name - it's Nikola Jokic. I have all the respect in the world for Bam as a defender, but he's going to be giving up 4-5 inches in height against the two-time (and should have been 3-time) MVP. Jokic is the cheat code that every team wishes they had - a 7-footer who can handle the ball, pass, shoot, screen, rebound, and score in the post. There's literally not much that he can't do and he makes every player on his team better in the process.

But while Jokic has been fantastic this postseason and has posted some huge box scores, it's really been about his sidekick, Jamal Murray. In 15 postseason games, Murray is averaging nearly 28 points per game while contributing 5.5 boards and 6.1 assists. He's taken over several games in this playoff run and put the Denver offense on his back. He's shooting nearly 40% from behind the arc but also showing off impressive moves in the post and taking smaller guards to school in the mid-range, too.

Murray and Jokic have been playing together now for seven seasons and they probably have the best chemistry of any pick-and-roll duo in the league over the last several decades. Denver has done a great job this year of surrounding them with role players who excel at what they are asked to do. Michael Porter Jr. is a deadeye assassin from deep, while Aaron Gordon has developed his game into a utility player who can do a little bit of everything. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been shooting the lights out in the postseason and is one of the best wing defenders in the NBA. Both Gordon and Porter Jr. could be 20+ point-per-night scorers if they were featured on other teams, but they've accepted their roles.

I guess my point is that Denver is loaded with talent, playing their best basketball, and finally healthy after years of having either Murray or MPJ hurt at one point or another. I would be picking them over Boston or probably any team in the East this year based on how they've played in this postseason.


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NBA Betting Picks: Final Thoughts and Picks

As I said earlier, I have no doubt that the Heat will battle and I think they'll even keep most games in the series close, if not win one at home. I don't think they have enough firepower to keep up with the Nuggets and the unlikely heroics of Caleb Martin can't continue forever, especially with Aaron Gordon potentially locking him up on defense. Jimmy Butler will be great in a few games, but he can't do it all by himself either. We might see Tyler Herro by Game Three, but by then it might be too late for him to turn the tide and we don't even know in what capacity we would see Herro as he would probably be somewhat limited and come off the bench.

I really can't buck the trends here, I think Denver is just the better all-around team, and while it would be fun to see the Miami underdog story continue - all good streaks must come to an end. I'd be happy to see Jokic and Murray hoist the trophy as well, I think both guys have worked incredibly hard on their game to get where they are now.

For tonight's game, I think Denver comes out at home and makes a big statement. I don't buy much into the "rust factor" I think Denver will be rested and ready to roll in front of their home crowd where they are undefeated this postseason. The spread is 8.5 points so they'll need to dominate, but I think they will and they've shown that they can close teams out and pull away in the fourth quarter. I will pass on predicting the total as that has been a fool's errand for me for much of the season.

As far as the series goes, I think Denver wins it in five games. I won't be totally surprised if they sweep, but I do think Miami can win at least one game at home and push it to a fifth game. Can Miami take it to six games? Perhaps, but that would require a few bad games from Denver and a few absolutely peak shooting nights from Miami again. So I will take Denver -1.5 games for the series as my boring bet at -175. Instead of betting on the exact number of games, I can get plus odds by going under 5.5 games for the series total as well. And just for fun, I will sprinkle a little on Jamal Murray as the Finals MVP at +1400. There's not much use in betting Jokic at -360 and the Heat would have to win the series for Butler (+330) to get the award. If Murray has a few big games, it's quite possible he walks away with the hardware.

Game Bet: Nuggets -8.5 (-110 DK)

Series Prediction: Denver wins 4-1

Series Bets: Denver -1.5 games (-175), Under 5.5 total games (+115), Jamal Murray MVP (+1400)


Good luck, RotoBallers, and enjoy the game tonight!

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