A furious fourth-quarter comeback propelled the Heat to a Game 2 win in Denver Sunday night that tied the NBA Finals at one game apiece with the series shifting to Miami.
The Nuggets are once again favored in Game 3 but the biggest storyline is the pending return of Heat guard Tyler Herro (hand), who hasn't played since April 16. Herro, a career 38.3% three-point shooter, is set to rejoin a lineup that’s shooting a blistering 39.2% of its attempts from beyond the arc in the postseason.
That hot outside shooting played a key role in deciding Sunday’s game, which Miami won 111-108. Gabe Vincent’s 23 points led the team and Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo each added 21 points. Nikola Jokić finished with 41 points, his third 40-point performance of the playoffs, but none of his teammates even topped 20 points.
Below are four bets and one question for Game 3 of the NBA Finals, which tips off at 8:30 p.m. ET Wednesday on ABC.
Jamal Murray Bounces Back: Bet Murray Over 25.5 Points
Murray’s 18-point output in Game 2 tied his second-lowest total of the playoffs. He drained a pair of threes late but still finished well short of his postseason average of 27 points per game. Murray tallied 26 in Game 1 to go along with Jokić’s 27, which was enough for a Nuggets win. But with Michael Porter Jr.’s shooting struggles (3-17 from three in the Finals), the two-time MVP needs more out of his running mate. That will likely require more shot attempts from Murray in Miami considering he took just 15 in Game 2. He’s hit the over on his points prop seven times in his last 10 games.
Nikola Jokić Controls the Paint: Bet Jokic Over 12.5 Rebounds
Jokić’s playoff rebounding average peaked at 14.5 in the Lakers series. He corralled 21 boards in Game 1 in the West Finals, which is as many as he has through two games against the Heat. Miami is not regarded as one of the better rebounding teams in the playoffs or the league at large, but Jokić’s numbers are still down a tick this series. The postseason’s top rebounder is available at plus odds (+104) to secure at least 13 boards in Game 3, a feat he’s accomplished nine times across 17 postseason games.
Jimmy Butler Goes Under, Again: Bet Butler Under 25.5 Points
Butler has played well through two games but that has not necessarily meant big scoring outings the way it did in previous rounds. He’s taken fewer than 20 shots in both Finals games and is shooting under 40% from the field. That’s resulted in scoring totals of 13 and 21 points, well below his playoff average of 27.3 points per game. Game 2 was the fifth time in a row the under hit on his points prop. Butler’s line for Game 3 is down to 25.5, and with Herro back in the lineup and the All-Star assuming more of a facilitator role, he could be in for a sixth straight under.
Heat Handle Themselves at Home: Bet Miami +2.5
Miami has been installed as an underdog often throughout its playoff run. The Heat have already gotten points four times on their home floor and Game 3 will be their fifth time in that position — they’re undefeated against the spread and 3–1 straight up so far. The last time it happened was Game 6 against Boston when Miami, a 2.5-point underdog, lost 104-103 at the buzzer. The Heat’s success against the Nuggets through two games on the road, specifically handing them their first home loss off the postseason, is enough to inspire confidence in their play at Kaseya Center, especially with a few points as insurance.
How Will Tyler Herro Look in His Return to the Court?
Reinforcements are about to arrive for Miami. Herro, who hasn’t played in more than a month, is making his return on basketball’s biggest stage. He was the Heat’s second-best player in the 2020 Finals as a rookie and he averaged better than 20 points per game across 67 games this season, his first as a full-time starter. How he slides back into the lineup will be a key storyline to follow as coach Erik Spoelstra tools with his rotation. Herro's points prop is set at 10.5 for Game 3.
NBA Playoffs Betting Record: 33–32
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