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2023 NBA Finals Preview

2023 NBA Finals Preview | Tipico
2023 NBA Finals Preview | Tipico
Grant Leonard
Published: 2023-05-31

The 2023 NBA Finals are about to tip off, and we have an intriguing clash between teams that entered the playoffs on opposite ends of the seeding spectrum — the Western Conference’s top-seeded Denver Nuggets and the East’s 8 seed, the Miami Heat.

The Nuggets, led by their superstar center Nikola Jokic, have bulldozed through the playoffs with their high-octane offense. Meanwhile, the Heat, fueled by the relentless scoring prowess of Jimmy Butler and the defensive wizardry of Bam Adebayo, have overcome a tough path to reach the final round.


There are a handful of stars to watch in this series — check out our article on those stars, with full MVP odds — but the conversation begins and ends with two-time MVP and Western Conference Finals MVP Nikola Jokic.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra will have to find a way to do what Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns, Kevin Durant and Devin Booker, and LeBron James and Anthony Davis were unable to do – stop Jokic.

Jokic is averaging a triple-double in the playoffs thus far, with 29.9 points, 13.3 rebounds and 10.3 assists per game. He’s already set an NBA-record eight triple-doubles in the playoffs, six of which have come in his past eight games.

He’s the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double through the first 15 games in a postseason. The Heat might not be able to stop him, but perhaps they can come up with a way to slow him down just enough.

Nuggets guard Jamal Murray will certainly have his work cut out for him against the Heat’s stout team defense. Miami rolls out a deep group of guards that includes Gabe Vincent, Caleb Martin, and Duncan Robinson, a combination of which just smothered Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Jokic will more than likely get his gaudy stat lines, but Murray and Michael Porter Jr. will have to provide Denver with reliable secondary scoring. To this point, the trio and rest of the supporting cast have proven plenty capable, as the Nuggets have posted an astoundingly good 119.7 offensive rating in the postseason.

There’s been no sign of slowing them down, though the Heat do boast a well above-average 111.5 defensive rating.


The Heat have a bona fide game breaker of their own in Jimmy Butler, otherwise known as “Playoff Jimmy” or “Himmy.” He has shined when the lights are brightest this postseason. He dropped 56 in a Game 4 win over the Bucks in Round 1, then dropped another 42 in the Heat’s closeout win in that series.

The “Playoff Jimmy” phenomenon has been gaining momentum ever since. Throughout these playoffs, Butler is averaging 31.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 1.9 steals per game while shooting 55.1% from the field and 39.4% from deep. This also includes his 28-7-6 stat line in the Game 7 blowout over the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Can this wave continue? If Butler can do his thing, the Heat have a fighting chance on any given night. But they’ll need more than just him(my) to ball out.

Bet with Tipico on the NBA Finals

Miami has gotten timely scoring to this point in this postseason, as we saw Caleb Martin step up for a 26-point Game 7 performance to send the Heat to the Finals, while Gabe Vincent posted a 29-point performance in Game 2 against Boston.

Bam Adebayo was shut down by the Celtics on the offensive side of the floor, but he had previously provided an excellent 1-2 punch with Butler in the first two rounds.

An X-factor will be the potential impact of Tyler Herro (hand), who is reportedly targeting Game 3 as his return. His presence would give the Heat another reliable scorer and the firepower to potentially keep pace with the Nuggets.

On paper, the matchup isn’t particularly close. The Nuggets boast an 8.0 net rating in the playoffs, nearly double the mark of the Heat (4.6). The odds reflect that, as Denver opened as a -440 favorite with the Heat being a +320 underdog.

It’s been a storybook run for Spoelstra’s squad after losing their first game of the play-in tournament, but this is where the story ends. As we’ve seen throughout the postseason, anything can happen, but it certainly appears to be Denver’s time.

Series Winner: Denver Nuggets -440

Correct Series Score: Denver Nuggets 4-2 +400

Finals MVP: Nikola Jokic -320

Photo Credit: IMAGO / ZUMA wire

Grant Leonard is a former junior B ice hockey player, and a current believer that the Washington Capitals’ aging core still has another Cup run left in the tank. Grant’s owned and operated his own marketing agency since shortly after graduating from Virginia Tech in 2014. After years of hammering puck lines and leading his fantasy football league as Commissioner, Grant started writing about sports betting and the casino gaming industry in 2021.

2023 NBA Finals Preview | Tipico


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