NBA Game 3 Preview: Denver Nuggets at Miami Heat

Jun 7, 2023

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Game: Denver Nuggets @ Miami Heat

Time: 8:30 p.m.

Odds: Nuggets -2.5, Heat +2.5

Total: 214.5

The Miami Heat have defeated the Milwaukee Bucks, the top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference, and are just three wins away from an unlikely NBA championship. When they host the Denver Nuggets tonight in Game 3 of the best-of-seven NBA Finals, the eighth-seeded Heat will have the chance to go up 2-1 in the series against the top team in the West.

With a convincing 111-108 victory in Game 2 of the series on Sunday in Denver, Miami eliminated the Nuggets’ home-court advantage. Miami overcame a 15-point deficit to defeat the Nuggets at home for the first time in ten games of this postseason.

With Game 4 also taking place in South Florida, Miami is now in a very advantageous position. The underdog Heat can head back to Denver for Game 5 in a position to win the series if they manage to hold serve.

Gabe Vincent of the Heat, a surprise Finals star, just wants to concentrate on Game 3 and avoid looking too far ahead. In the series, Vincent is averaging 21 points and has made 9-of-16 three-pointers. The former UC-Santa Barbara star went undrafted, and now has scored at least ten points in each of his last six playoff games.

Denver head coach Michael Malone was disappointed with the performance in Game 2. The Nuggets were simply outplayed in Sunday night’s loss. Nikola Jokic, the two-time NBA MVP, scored 41 points to lead Denver. As time ran out, the Nuggets had a chance to send the game into overtime, but Jamal Murray’s shot hit the rim and missed.

The Nuggets played much better in Game 1 and won the first game of the series 104-93 before suffering their first postseason home loss in Game 2. Murray had 18 points and 10 assists on Sunday and realizes they can’t play like they did in Game 2, whether on the road or at home.

Despite Jimmy Butler’s lackluster series debut, the Heat managed a split in the mile-high altitude of Denver. Prior to scoring 21 points and dishing out nine assists in Game 2, Butler had just 13 points in Game 1. Of concern for Miami is Butler’s 39.4 percent shooting percentage and the fact that he has only attempted five free throws through two games.

Butler is unconcerned about his 17.0 scoring average against the Nuggets. Don’t forget, he set a franchise playoff record with 56 points in Game 4 of the Milwaukee series. Butler’s teammate, Tyler Herro, practiced with the team on Tuesday. He was ruled out of Game 3 after breaking his right hand on April 16 but is closer to making a return.

The Game 2 victory by the Heat was the first win over Denver in eight games. It was also the first time the Nuggets didn’t cover against Miami in eight games. The Heat is now 12-6 in its last 18 games. Miami has covered the spread in 13 of those 18.

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