After a dominating second half performance in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, Nikola Jokic and his Denver Nuggets lead the series 2-1 over Jimmy Butler’s Miami Heat.
Miami look to bounce back and even the series as it hosts Game 4, but can Miami’s offence reawaken and keep up with Denver?
MIAMI HEAT: $2.40
DENVER NUGGETS: $1.63
Kaseya Center, Saturday 10.40am
The Finals so far have been a wildly entertaining ride as both teams have delivered a stellar mix of offence and defence, with adjustments coming thick and fast.
Offensively, two of the three Finals games have hit the total points under and the one that went over – Game 2 – was tracking to hit the under until Miami had a collective out-of-body shooting experience and won the game after dropping 36 points in the fourth quarter.
But with the line at only 211 total points and Denver having hit 109, 108 and 104 in the first three games – and averaging over 115 points a game this season – Game 4 looks set up to be a game where both teams rediscover their offence.
Denver relied on Jokic and Jamal Murray both delivering incredible 30-point triple doubles to power the Game 3 win, but after only shooting 5-18 from three will look for its ‘whirring death machine’ offence (s/o NBA Straya) to re-emerge in Game 4.
Miami’s 3-point shooting dipped to 11-35 (31.4%) and both teams will expect better offensive performances, with the Heat in particular realising the only way they beat Denver is by outpacing them down town as they did in Game 2 (and in their series against Milwaukee and Boston).
After a few inefficient outings – he had 28 points on 11-24 shooting in Game 3 – Jimmy Butler will also be keen to deliver a signature game similar to his 28-7-6 in Game 7 against Boston. Game 3 was the first time since the East semis he had fewer than 5 assists and 4 rebounds.
Expect Playoff Jimmy – who called out his team for their energy and effort – to lead from the front in game 4.
The Heat will also need their shooters to stand up: Gabe Vincent had 19 and 23 in the first two games of the series (and went 9-16 combined from 3) before a quiet Game 3: look for the Heat guard to bounce back.
He’s gone for 2+ 3-pointers in 12 of his 21 playoff games so far and topped 3+ in 10 of them.
Caleb Martin will also want to pick up the pace after shaking off an illness that plagued him in the first two games before dropping 10 points in Game 3. The Heat will need his wing shooting desperately to have a shot at winning.
Nikola Jokic had the first 30-20-10 game in NBA Finals history and is now averaging 30.5 points, 13.4 rebounds and 10.1 assists in this year’s playoffs. That’s more ridiculous than folks thinking LeBron is better than Michael Jordan.
Joker might not need to score as much in this game as the Nuggets wing shooters wake up, but he should still get to the 25 point mark, while after 21 in Game 3 his rebounds will likely stay drop back to the 10-11 mark as Michael Porter Jr and Aaron Gordon stay on the court longer, and if those shooters hit more shots, Joker’s assists should jump a little from Game 3’s 10.
After 21 minutes in Game 3 after again delivering a MIA performance on both offence and defence, Michael Porter Jr likely has one last chance to prove to coach Michael Malone he deserves to be on the court in the NBA Finals.
MPJ is getting good looks, but the 42% 3PT shooter is just missing: if he gets one to go early, he should bounce back and earn plenty of minutes.
He’s extremely talented and Denver need his offence to keep Miami at arm’s distance in Game 4 – and if he hits a couple of threes to stay out there, his rebounding numbers should bounce up too. He had 10+ in four of five before Game 2 of the Finals and still managed 6 in Game 3.
Jamal Murray also had a 30-point triple double in Game 3 (31-10-10) and has three straight with 10+ assists. Look for him to keep pressuring the Miami defence as the head of the Denver spear.
Denver’s won eight of the last nine between the two and if they remember how to hit threes, the Nuggets will be too good again.
Miami is now 21-28-3 against the line at home, but the Heat’s offence should click again and push Denver right to the end.
The 3.5 line is a bit scary as Miami should keep it close, even though Denver has covered the line in four straight road games, but it’s unlikely to be a blowout.
JAYMZ CLEMENTS’ POINTS-A-PLENTY NBA FINALS GAME 4 SAME GAME MULTI
- Nikola Jokic – 25+ points
Joker is averaging 30+ in the playoffs and getting to 25 without much difficultly against the Heat big men.
- Jimmy Butler – 25+ points
Playoff Jimmy has upped his points per game average from 22.9 in the regular season to 27.3 in the postseason.
- Jamal Murray – 20+ points
Murray is averaging over 27 points an outing in the playoffs and has gone for 20+ in seven of his last eight.
The Heat big man has gone for 20+ in all three Finals games against Denver.
- Gabe Vincent – 15+ points
Vincent has averaged over 16 points a game since the start of the ECF against Boston.
- Michael Porter Jr – 10+ points
MPJ averaged 15 in the WCF and had 14 in Game 1: if his shot finally falls, he should bounce back in a big way.
- Caleb Martin – 10+ points
Martin put up over 19 a game against Boston in the ECF and after overcoming an illness, had 10 points in Game 3.
SEVEN-LEG ‘POINTS-A-PLENTY’ SGM @ $26 (via Betr)
[all odds as of June 9]