The Denver Nuggets had been unbeaten at home this postseason, but that streak ended in a 111-108 upset loss to the Miami Heat in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday. Another Denver streak is on the line tonight in Miami as the Nuggets have yet to trail in a series in this postseason. They are 2.5-point favorites for Game 3 at BetMGM, but other books are starting to post 3s (even a couple of 3.5s here and there), and BetMGM may as well with pretty heavy Nuggets action. The most-wagered player prop so far likely will surprise. Click here for expert picks.
As of this writing with Denver at -2.5, 69% of the bets and 61% of the money is on the Nuggets spread even though Miami is an NBA-best 14-6 against the spread in these playoffs. The total has dropped from 216.5 to 214.5, with 46% of the bets and 51% of the money coming in on the Under. Miami at +130 on the money line is taking 57% of the bets, and 31% of the money.
What is it with the Heat and fourth quarters in these playoffs? Miami has been outscored by a point in first quarters, 11 in second quarters and by 12 in third quarters, but is plus-90 in the fourth, the third-best fourth quarter points differential in a single postseason in league history.
The fourth quarter was absolutely the difference on Sunday with the Heat outscoring Denver 36-25. It marked the seventh time Miami has trailed by double digits in the postseason and come back to win, tying a record that has been kept by the league since 1998. It was the Heat's fourth victory this postseason when entering the fourth quarter down by at least five points, the most in league history during the shot clock era (since 1955).
The combined fourth-quarter score of the first two games: Heat 66, Nuggets 45. Miami has outscored Denver by double figures in the fourth quarter in both games. It was the first time Denver was outscored by double digits in the fourth at home in consecutive games this season. Miami shot 68.8% from the field in the fourth quarter of Game 2, the highest-ever fourth quarter shooting percentage on the road in NBA Finals history, and the third highest overall. The Heat's 13 wins in these playoffs already are a record for a No. 8 seed. A No. 8 seed has never won the Finals.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra opted to start big man Kevin Love over small forward Caleb Martin in Game 2 and likely will stick with that lineup because Tyler Herro is still not ready to return from his fractured hand. Love didn't set the world on fire, but definitely played well with six points, 10 rebounds, two steals and a plus-18 rating in 22 minutes. Martin was excellent last round vs. Boston but has totaled only three points in each of the first two games of this series.
Love Over 5.5 rebounds at -110 is the most-wagered player prop so far. He didn't take the court at all in Game 1 of this series or Games 6-7 vs. Boston, but has now topped that number in back-to-back outings. Other popular props: Nikola Jokic to score first field goal (+475); Bam Adebayo Over 3.5 assists (-140); Jokic Over 28.5 points (-110); and Jokic to record a triple-double (Yes +120).
The Heat would probably love for Jokic to score 41 points again like he did in Game 2. Why? The Nuggets are 0-3 this postseason when Jokic scores at least 40 and 13-1 when he scores fewer than 40. The three losses in 40-point games are tied for the most by any player in a postseason in NBA history.
On the updated series line, Denver is -275 and Miami is +220, with the Heat taking 75% of the bets. Jokic is the -250 favorite for Finals MVP and 41% of the money (the biggest share of the action) is on him.
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