The Denver Nuggets have a 2-1 lead against the Miami Heat as heavy NBA Finals odds favorites, but that's had little to do with the play of Michael Porter Jr. The forward has seen his minutes and scoring continue to shrink, which is reflected in some low totals for his player props in Game 4 on Friday night.
Is Porter due for some positive regression, or will he continue to be phased out of the rotation by head coach Mike Malone? I let you know how to play his odds with my best free NBA prop picks for Michael Porter Jr. in Game 4 of the NBA Finals on June 9.
Michael Porter Jr. Game 4 player prop pick
As incredible as Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray played in Game 3, the Nuggets need more production from their supporting cast — including Michael Porter Jr, who has pulled a disappearing act in this series.
Porter finished the regular season averaging 17.4 points per game on 49/41/80 shooting splits, but that dropped to just 13.7 ppg during the Western Conference semifinals and finals. He scored 14 points in Game 1 of the finals but shot just 2 of 11 from deep in 43 minutes.
That playing time plummeted to just 26 minutes in Game 2, where he scored five points and went 1-6 from long range. Those numbers got even worse in Game 3 when he went 1-7 from the field and scored just two points in 21 minutes. What was most concerning about his future projections was the spectacular play of rookie swingman Christian Braun, who scored 15 points in 19 minutes and made big plays when Porter was riding the pine.
It's not unheard of for sharpshooters like Porter to go cold at times, and while Malone hasn't hesitated to bench him when his shot isn't falling, he typically bounces back.
Earlier in the postseason he laid a dud in Game 2 against the Suns, scoring just five points in 23 minutes, but scored 21 points on 37 minutes in Game 3. Even during the regular season, those scenarios happened with Porter dropping just five points on 2-10 shooting (including 1-7 from the arc) in 19 minutes versus the Grizzlies on February 25 and then exploding for 29 points in 39 minutes the next night.
Don't forget that Porter seemed to be in the doghouse back in March when he played 24 minutes or fewer in three straight contests and complained about playing just 22 seconds in the fourth quarter of a close loss to Brooklyn. His minutes and scoring soon ticked back up to regular levels.
Although Porter struggling in back-to-back games is troubling, it's likely that Braun will see regression in Game 4. Keep in mind that the rookie went 7-8 from the floor, an unsustainable number long-term, and he has rarely been scoring during the postseason. He had a modest six points and one rebound in 15 minutes during Game 2 while failing to score a single point and grabbing four boards in 28 total minutes over the previous four contests.
That said, while I do like the Over 10.5 points for Porter, I'm an even bigger fan of the Over 6.5 on his rebounds, which is installed at plus money. Despite logging just 21 minutes on Wednesday, he still grabbed seven boards. He has now pulled down at least seven boards in 10 of his last 12 games, averaging 8.2 rpg during that span.
The Heat's lack of length has been exposed this series, with 6-foot-7 Jimmy Butler and 6-foot-5 Caleb Martin often the second and third biggest players on the floor. Meanwhile, the Nuggets can throw out the 6-foot-10 Porter and 6-foot-8 Aaron Gordon alongside Jokic. That size advantage led to the Nuggets boasting a +25 rebounding margin on Wednesday — the largest in an NBA Finals game since 1972.
While outside shooting can be volatile from game to game, rebounding tends to be more consistent. Expect the Nuggets to continue to control the glass and Porter should play a big role in that capacity, even if he plays fewer than 30 minutes.
My best bet: Michael Porter Over 6.5 rebounds (+120)
Nuggets vs Heat Game 4 same-game parlay
I'm backing a bounce-back performance from Porter, and while that means more minutes and continued rebounding prowess, it should also mean an uptick in his scoring. Backing him at +320 to score at least 15 points is tough to pass up.
If he's scoring at a high level it likely means that his 3-point shot is falling, which correlates with Jokic continuing to find open shooters and rack up assists. The Nuggets big man has dropped at least 10 dimes in nine of his last 11 contests.
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Nuggets vs Heat Game 4 game info
|Location:||Kaseya Center, Miami, FL|
|Date:||Friday, June 9, 2023|
|Tip-off:||8:30 p.m. ET|