NBA Finals betting: How values have changed as series shifts to Miami
With an eight-point lead heading into the fourth quarter of Game 2, it seemed like the Nuggets would take a 2-0 series advantage, and all that would be up for grabs is the money bet on the point spread. Then came a 9-for-10 Heat shooting stretch, which featured two threes and two layups from Duncan Robinson. Is that repeatable for Miami? Does it have to be?
The Heat hung onto Game 3 thanks to a missed goaltending that went unchallenged and a rimmed-out Jamal Murray three at the buzzer, but the reason they were within shouting distance to take advantage of a scorching shooting stretch is a change in defensive approach.
Before Game 1, we took an educated guess that the Heat might want to avoid overcommitting on Nikola Jokic since he's so dangerous as a playmaker. Fourteen assists later, the Heat got blown out, and Jokic finished a half-point shy of his point total line set at 27.5.
Erik Spoelstra aggressively denied that the Heat are content with Jokic as a high-volume scorer, which is exactly the type of thing you'd say in the middle of the series if something you just game-planned worked.
To my untrained eye, Jokic scored 41 points in Game 2 but only had four assists, and the Heat won. That was good for our prop betting as we swept a trio of player point totals as the game went over a total that had crept up from a depressed opening after a low-scoring Game 1.
So what's next? The series shifts to Miami, but the Nuggets remain the series favorites at -275 and are the market's lean in Game 3.
Using our rating system that we've followed throughout the playoffs, a 6-point swing from Nuggets -8.5 at home to Nuggets -2.5 on the road doesn't seem like enough of a change. We've honed in on the market leaning to five points of home-court advantage for Denver alone, so just one point adjusted for going to Miami isn't enough - unless you apply the zig-zag element of the Nuggets' urgency to bounce back after a loss.
Recently, we've assumed that a point spread would be adjusted a full point toward the team that lost the last game, but at -2.5, a game that should probably be close to pick'em is seeing a significant positive assumption about how the Nuggets will play off a loss.
As for the total, after a drop in the number from Game 1 to Game 2 - and the over-cashing - the total has stabilized at around 215. Keeping the total just shy of that number is a lean toward the idea that with the Heat playing at home, their style of play will prevail with regards to how many points will be scored.
Gabe Vincent over 13.5 points (-120)
The easiest winner of our three-prop sweep in Game 2 came from Vincent going over his total points in the opening minutes of the second half. With scoring totals of 29, 17, 15, 10, 19, and 23 in his last six games, his prescribed total is up just one point.
A good exercise is to look at whether Vincent is willing and capable of staying a top-scoring option and whether the Nuggets' defensive game plan will change focus toward shutting him down. I don't think the Nuggets are worried to that degree about Vincent, and he's shown no sign of cooling off his trigger hand.
Kevin Love over 5.5 rebounds (-110)
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Love got the start and played 22 minutes in Game 2, so why wouldn't that be the case again? He shot just 2-for-9 but hauled in 10 rebounds, providing much-needed size for Spoelstra. When Love has played 20-plus minutes this postseason, he's had six-plus boards in nine of 11 games.
Bruce Brown over 16.5 points+rebounds+assists (-115)
Michael Malone didn't care for the Nuggets' defense or energy in Game 2, so let's assume their biggest energy booster will get more minutes and more involvement on both sides of the court, enabling Brown to produce more. Maybe that's scoring, rebounding, or facilitating, so let's back Brown to do a bit more of everything than he has recently - which isn't all that bad, considering he's 6-2 to the over on this PRA total in his last eight games.
Matt Russell is the lead betting analyst for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.
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