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Nuggets vs Heat Game 3 Odds, Picks, and Predictions: Jamal Won't Run Wild Against Jimmy

Erik Spoelstra made some key defensive adjustments that helped Miami hold Nuggets guard Jamal Murray to just 18 points in Game 2. With the series now shifting to South Beach, our NBA betting picks expect another tough night for the Canadian kid.

Last Updated: Jun 8, 2023 12:28 PM ET Read Time: 4 min

Hustle and heart are difficult to quantify in the analytics-driven world of NBA betting, but those intangibles are how the Miami Heat knotted up their NBA Finals series with the Denver Nuggets at 1-1 heading into Game 3.

The NBA Finals odds have the Heat set as 2.5-point home underdogs in South Beach just two hours before tip-off after winning outright as 8-point road pups in Game 2.

Miami was bullied in the opener but out-worked Denver on Sunday, and head coach Erik Spoelstra once again flexed his Kung-Fu as one of the best game-to-game adjusters in NBA coaching, tripping up the Nuggets' offense just enough to allow those hustle plays to be the difference in a 111-108 victory.

I get all up in the Game 3 spread and Over/Under total and give my best NBA betting picks for Nuggets at Heat on June 7.

Also, check out my Nikola Jokic player prop picks for a deep dive on the Finals MVP odds favorite, and our Game 3 player prop picks for more great bets!

We also have you covered if you're looking for Nuggets vs. Heat predictions for Game 4 on Friday night in Miami.

Nuggets vs Heat Game 3 odds

Nuggets vs Heat Game 3 predictions

The Miami Heat went big in Game 2 and that trickled down to impact the Denver Nuggets' smallest player Sunday night.

Erik Spoelstra’s decision to match the Nuggets’ size by installing 6-foot-8 Kevin Love in place of 6-foot-5 Celeb Martin in the starting lineup freed up Miami’s top on-the-ball defender Jimmy Butler to plague Denver point guard Jamal Murray.

Instead of Butler battling against longer forwards Aaron Gordon or Michael Porter Jr., Love’s presence inside allowed Butler to focus his frenetic energy on the Nuggets’ No. 2 threat and it worked.

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr discussed Spoelstra’s strategy during an appearance on Draymond Green’s podcast late Sunday night, giving insight into Miami’s decision to shake up the starting lineup.

“I haven't talked to Spo or anything like that, but I can see them in their coach's meetings saying, ‘Murray is the head of the snake, not (Nikola) Jokic’,” Kerr told Green. “If you just look at it, you go, ‘Jokic is the head of the snake.’ But when you play a team, you sort of realize, ‘Wait a second, that guy — he's going to dominate no matter what we do — so this is the head of the snake.’”

“I think they just decided Murray is the guy we’ve got to stop,” Kerr concluded, “So you start Love, put Jimmy Butler on Murray, and then you saw they were blitzing Murray quite a bit and really trying everything to take him out of the game.”

Miami pretty much conceded points to Nikola Jokic in Game 2, with the two-time MVP scoring 41 points but recording only four assists. That didn’t allow Murray and the Nuggets’ other complementary pieces to get their motors going off Jokic’s pristine passes.

With Butler in tow, the Heat hedged harder on perimeter screens and ate up much of the space Murray uncovered in the opening game of the series. After scoring 26 points on 11-for-22 shooting in Game 1, the Canadian kid mustered only 18 points on 7-for-15 success and played well below his scoring prop total of 26.5 points Sunday night.

NBA odds have made a mild adjustment to Murray’s scoring forecast for Game 3 in South Beach, dropping it just a point to 25.5. While the Nuggets will undoubtedly counter Spoelstra’s chess moves, Murray’s point projections for Game 3 are still well short of oddsmakers’ expectations.

Some models are calling for fewer than 22 points from Murray while my number comes in at 22.6 points for Wednesday’s series swing to Miami.

Murray sees a slight downtick in scoring production in the home/road spits, with his playoff scoring average sliding from 27.4 to 26.4 when the series shifts to the road. However, his 3-point shooting takes a notable knock in foreign venues.

In the postseason, Murray shoots 42.7% from distance for an average of 3.8 makes on 8.9 takes from beyond the arc inside Ball Arena. That rate flops to 31.8% for an average of two triples on 6.3 attempts from deep on the road.

Murray is always a threat to erupt for a big game, especially given his performances in postseasons past, but with the bigger Butler on his heels and the Heat not giving him clean air to operate, as well as this total trimming to as low as 214.5 points, I’m going Under on Murray’s points in Game 3.

The Under is between -120 and -135 at many sportsbooks but BetRivers and Unibet are still hanging -106 on Under 25.5 as of Monday afternoon.

My best bet: Jamal Murray Under 25.5 points (-106)

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Nuggets vs Heat Game 3 same-game parlay

Jamal Murray Under 25.5 points (-115)

Aaron Gordon Over 0.5 made threes (-118)

Jimmy Butler Under 7.5 rebounds (-138)

With Butler in his shorts and the series swinging to South Beach, projections have Murray in for another long night with my number sitting at less than 23 points from the Nuggets point guard.

Given the Heat’s approach to letting Jokic do his thing inside, Gordon will find himself sliding to the outside more to allow for space. He was 2-for-2 from distance in Game 2 and is a 40.2% 3-point shooter on the road this season.

Butler’s defensive assignment has pulled him away from the basketball and that led to only four rebounds in Game 2 after snatching seven in the opener. His projections are all short of 7.5 boards for Game 3, with my number an eyelash over six rebounds.

See more plays in my Nikola Jokic player prop picks for Game 3.

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

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Nuggets vs Heat Game 3 spread and Over/Under analysis

Following Miami’s road win as an 8-point underdog in Game 2 and the NBA Finals swapping venues to Kaseya Center, the Heat opened as low as 2-point home pups for Game 3. That spread has since seen a half-point added on, with an industry consensus of Denver -2.5 as of noon ET on Monday.

While Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra is downplaying his defensive adjustments made in Game 2 — namely allowing Nikola Jokic to score at will and neutralize his ability to energize his teammates with his passing — oddsmakers can’t ignore what we saw from Miami in Game 2.

But as mentioned above, much of Miami’s advantage was measured in blood, sweat, and tears. The Heat battled the bigger Nuggets on the boards and played with much more intensity on defense, which shook out 14 turnovers from sure-handed Denver. Miami made the most of those mistakes, translating them into 19 points.

After the energy-sapping air in Denver left Miami’s legs heavy in Game 1, the Heat had adjusted to the altitude by Game 2 and had lift that wasn’t there in the opener, making 17 of their 35 attempts from 3-point range (13-for-39 in Game 1).

Hot hands from outside have been the difference for Miami during its improbable postseason run. The Heat went from one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the regular season (34.4%) to an offense that makes a playoff-best 39.2% from downtown.

Miami may add another long-range threat in Game 3 with sharp-shooting guard Tyler Herro listed as a game-time decision to make his return after missing all but one game in the playoffs with a hand injury. Herro took pregame warmups ahead of Game 2 in Denver and adds some perimeter depth to this roster if he returns to action.

The Heat have been a solid bet at home during the postseason, going 6-2 SU and ATS, with a net rating of +8.5 as hosts. They’ve also been live underdogs with a 10-6 SU record and a 12-4 ATS mark when catching the points. Denver is just 4-3 SU and ATS away from Ball Arena during the NBA Playoffs, boasting a postseason-high +3.9 net rating as a visitor.

As for the Over/Under total for Game 3, it opened at 216 points and has sunk to as low as 214.5 points as of Monday afternoon despite Game 2’s 111-108 final score going Over the closing number of 216.5 on Sunday night.

Miami does tighten up on defense in South Beach, with an advanced rating of 106.7 in the playoffs and a home Over/Under count of 4-4 vs. 8-4 O/U on the road. The Heat have allowed visiting teams to shoot just 42.8% from the floor, including less than 30% success from distance, while generating almost 14 turnovers per game.

The Nuggets' defense softens away from the Rocky Mountains, watching its defensive rating balloon from 108.8 at home to 116.4 on the road. Denver has watched host teams shoot better than 48% and get to the foul line for an average of 25.6 free throw attempts.

There was a large discrepancy between Miami’s ability to get to the stripe in Games 1 and 2, with the Heat picking up 18 of 20 foul shots Sunday vs. just two in the series opener. Points scored at the foul line are a boon for Over bettors, as those tallies come with the clock stopped.

While Game 1 was played at a slower pace rating of 93.0, the Game 2 tempo was at a snail’s pace with that metric dipping to an extremely methodical rating of 86.5. The efficiency of both offenses coupled with the slower tempo forced offenses to start plenty of possessions off the inbounds and allowed the defense to get set.

This style of game pulled the plug on Denver’s transition attack, with the Nuggets looking to leak players downcourt on turnovers and rebounds in order to force mismatches in transition.

Nuggets vs Heat betting trend to know

There have been 18 games so far in this postseason with the home team set as point-spread underdogs. Miami has been that home pup in four of those games, going 4-0 ATS and 3-1 Over/Under. Games with home dogs are 11-7 O/U during the 2023 NBA Playoffs. Find more NBA betting trends for Nuggets vs. Heat.

Nuggets vs Heat Game 3 game info

Location: Kaseya Center, Miami, FL
Date: Wednesday, June 7, 2023
Tip-off: 8:30 p.m. ET

Nuggets vs Heat Game 3 key injuries

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