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Stars of the 2023 NBA Finals: MVP Odds and More

Stars of the 2023 NBA Finals: MVP Odds and More | Tipico
Stars of the 2023 NBA Finals: MVP Odds and More | Tipico
Grant Leonard
Published: 2023-05-30

The 2023 NBA Finals are upon us, and what a postseason it has been. The matchup between Miami and Denver marks just the second time since 2011 that neither LeBron James or Steph Curry has reached the title series. NBA fans should be excited for the fresh faces that will take center stage. Let’s take a look at the players to watch in these Finals.

(Tipico odds: –440 to win the title)

The Denver Nuggets finished 1st in the Western Conference and cruised through their conference’s bracket. They’re 12-3 this postseason and just swept LeBron’s Lakers to advance to the franchise’s first NBA Finals. They’ve got a balanced scoring attack, but the team is built around two players: Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray.

Jokic is dominating this postseason. He’s averaging 29.9 points per game to lead all players in these Finals, and the same can be said for the 13.3 rebounds he’s averaging. If that wasn’t impressive enough, his 10.3 assists per game leads all players who played in the postseason. Not bad for a center, eh?

This triple-double machine is currently –290 on Tipico Sportsbook to win Finals MVP, and that looks like an excellent bet. No team has had much of an answer in defending Jokic, so the Heat will just hope to contain him. But if they can manage that, then the Nuggets have Murray to lean on.

What a resurgent year it’s been for Murray (+1100 to win Finals MVP). It wasn’t long ago that fans and pundits were calling for the Nuggets to trade him, and after some injuries plagued the start of his career, all he’s done is come into this postseason and perform.

He’s leading the team in floor time, averaging 39.1 minutes per game and averaging 27.7 points per game -- 10th overall in the playoffs and third among the players in the Finals. He’s making an average of 3.1 three-pointers per game, which is the most of any Nuggets or Heat player and third overall behind the Splash Brothers -- Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. His 6.1 assists per game are the second-most to his teammate Jokic on either roster in this Finals as well.

Jokic will get most of the defensive attention, which will open up more opportunity for Murray. He’s shown the ability to deliver this postseason, and we shouldn’t doubt that he can do it for one more series.

After Murray and Jokic, the Nuggets have a balanced roster. Michael Porter Jr. is the third-highest scorer on the team this postseason but ranks just 38th among all players with 14.6 points per game. In addition, his profile is significantly less well-rounded than Murray and certainly Jokic. Porter may loom large in the series by knocking down timely buckets, but he’s primarily a scoring specialist.

+320 to win the title

The Heat reached the Finals after an improbable run through the Eastern Conference. They snuck into the postseason as the East’s 8th seed and even lost their first play-in game to the Hawks, needing a victory over the Bulls just to make the bracket. All they’ve done since is beat Giannis’ Bucks in five games, the Knicks in six, and the Celtics in seven. They’ve reached the finals primarily by committee, with depth being perhaps their biggest star.

Bet with Tipico on the NBA Finals

Despite losing Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo early in the first round, the Heat roll out an eight-player rotation that can keep pace with anyone. They’ll need everyone to chip in if they’re going to compete in this series, and Herro should be back at some point (early reports suggest a Game 3 return). When it comes down to true star power though, the conversation starts with Jimmy Butler (+350 to win Finals MVP).

“Playoff Jimmy" is averaging 28.5 points per game, second only to Jokic of players in these Finals and is seventh in the entire playoff field. His 5.7 assists per game are third behind Jokic and Murray in this category on either squad. He put up an eye-popping 56 points in his team’s 119-114 Game 4 victory over the Bucks in the first round, so if the Heat hope to win it all against a vaunted Nuggets team, then he’ll have to pull at least a few of those performances out of his bag of tricks again.

The Nuggets are no stranger to high-scoring games, as they’ve allowed their opponents to score 100+ points in all but two of their games this postseason. Butler will draw a ton of attention from former fourth-overall pick Aaron Gordon throughout this series, but the game environments should suit Butler well to continue his impressive postseason run.

Bam Adebayo (+4000 to win Finals MVP) became the primary focus of the Celtics, who limited him to 14.9 points per game. However, through the Eastern Conference quarters and semifinals, he averaged 18.1 points per game. While he’ll be needed on the defensive side of the floor against the dynamic duo of the Nuggets, the Heat will also be reliant upon Adebayo’s scoring, and he should return to a more prominent role on the offensive end of the floor.

Speaking of defense, Adebayo is one of five players to advance to the finals averaging over one steal per game (1.1). He also has racked up an impressive 9.1 rebounds per game.

Caleb Martin took over in the starting lineup for Kevin Love for the final two games of the Eastern finals and averaged 23.5 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 1 steal per game in those games. He’s quickly emerged as a third offensive force on this team – and in some cases second behind Butler – and was a key figure in the Heat's decisive Game 7 win over Boston. For Game 1, Martin’s O/U point total is currently set at 16.5 — the fourth-highest total in the game behind Jokic, Butler, and Murray.

Martin’s impact on the NBA Finals will be interesting to watch, especially considering how his role may be affected depending on how Heat coach Erik Spoelstra will eventually work Tyler Herro back into the lineup.

Photo credit: IMAGO / Icon Sportswire

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.

Stars of the 2023 NBA Finals: MVP Odds and More | Tipico


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