NBA Finals 2023 Game 1 Nikola Jokic Player Props: Joker Is All Business

The Denver Nuggets would likely not be in the NBA Finals without Nikola Jokic, so it's imperative to their title hopes that he gets off to a good start in Game 1. Our NBA betting picks believe he'll do just that tonight.

Rohit Ponnaiya - Betting Analyst at
Rohit Ponnaiya • Betting Analyst
Jun 1, 2023 • 19:11 ET • 3 min read
Denver Nuggets All-Star center Nikola Jokic NBA
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Finals tip off on Thursday night with the Denver Nuggets facing off against the Miami Heat.

The Nuggets — heavily favored in the NBA Finals odds — are anchored by Nikola Jokic, who came up just short of winning his third straight regular season MVP Award this season, but is an overwhelming favorite in the NBA Finals MVP Award odds.

Although stat-stuffing superstars often see inflated numbers on their NBA player props, the totals for Jokic in Game 1 are fairly reasonable given his production during the playoffs. Here are my best free NBA picks for Nikola Jokic player props for Game 1 of the NBA Finals on June 1.

For more on NBA Finals Game 1, check out our Game 1 picks and predictions article, as well as our Game 1 prop picks column.

Nikola Jokic Game 1 player prop pick

The biggest factor preventing Nikola Jokic from going Over his prop numbers today might be the expected slower pace of this contest and fewer overall possessions. The Nuggets have been playing at an extremely slow tempo since the All-Star break, while the Heat have been one of the slowest teams in the league all season (with only the Cavs moving at a more sluggish pace). 

However, even taking that into account, Jokic should be in for a massive performance. Keep in mind that he's coming off an incredible series against a Lakers team that had Anthony Davis and Rui Hachimura to throw at him. Miami's Bam Adebayo is an excellent defender but doesn't protect the rim as well as AD, and the Heat don't have any other lengthy rotation players to effectively double Jokic. 

The Over/Under on Jokic's points total for Game 1 is set at 27.5, while the O/U on his assists is at either 9.5 (juiced towards the Over at around -150) or 10.5 (with the Over paying out at +110).

Jokic has eclipsed that points total in seven of his last nine games, while logging at least 11 assists in seven of his previous eight contests. However, I'm looking at the total on his points + assists prop, which is installed at 37.5.

Since Denver's offense runs through Jokic, he'll fill up the assists column if he can't score, and will fill up the hoop if the Heat focus on taking away his surrounding shooters. Joker has gone Over 37.5 points and assists in nine of his last 12 games, and is averaging an incredible 43 points + assists per game over that span. 

There has to be some concern that the Nuggets could rest Jokic in the final quarter if they are up big, which is a very real possibility since they are nine-point faves. However, keep in mind that he logged 38 minutes in blowout victories against the Suns in Games 5 and 6 of that series. 

My best bet: Jokic Over 37.5 points + assists (-110)

Heat vs Nuggets Game 1 same-game parlay

Jokic Over 28.5 points

Jokic Over 9.5 assists

Caldwell-Pope Over 10.5 pts

While I'm taking Joker's points + assists prop as my best bet, I also love the idea of chopping up those totals separately to build a parlay. After all, in many games he racks up both points and assists at an extremely high rate. 

Jokic's biggest improvement this season has come in the assists column, and the main reason for that has been the success of spot-up shooters surrounding him, including Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Caldwell-Pope is one of the best 3-and-D role players around, and is getting plenty of burn during the playoffs. He's averaging 34.2 minutes and 16.0 points per game over the last five contests, and benefits from opponents' focused on stopping Jokic, Michael Porter Jr., and Jamal Murray.

Look for Jokic to keep getting KCP involved in the offense, and parlay the Over 10.5 on his points for an even bigger payout. 

Learn how to bet a same-game parlay with these helpful tips and strategies.

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Heat vs Nuggets Game 1 game info

Location: Ball Arena, Denver, CO
Date: Thursday, June 1, 2023
Tip-off: 8:30 p.m. ET

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